Your pregnancy and baby guideHeadaches in pregnancy
- Getting pregnant
- Secrets to success
- Am I pregnant?
- I'm pregnant
- Early days
- Week by week
- Preparing for the birth
- Work out your due date
- Tests scans and checks
- Your pregnancy (antenatal) care
- Your health and wellbeing
- Healthy eating
- Foods to avoid
- Drinking alcohol while pregnant
- Vitamins and supplements
- Stop smoking
- Your baby's movements
- Sex in pregnancy
- Pharmacy and prescription medicines
- Reduce your risk of stillbirth
- Illegal drugs in pregnancy
- Your health at work
- Pregnancy infections
- If you're a teenager
- Existing health problems
- Common pregnancy ailments
- Pregnancy-induced conditions
- Labour and birth
- The start of labour
- The birth
- Emotions and worries
- Premature babies
- Your newborn
- How to breastfeed
- Breastfeeding problems
- Lifestyle and breastfeeding
- Bottle feeding
- Newborn screening tests
- Newborn essentials
- New parents
- New mums
- Twins and multiples
- Babies and toddlers
- Weaning and solid foods
- Baby health and care
- Spotting signs of serious illness
- Reflux in babies
- How to take a baby's temperature
- Reducing the risk of SIDS
- Treating a high temperature
- Sleep problems in children
- Coughs, colds and ear infections
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Infectious illnesses
- Children's medicines
- Looking after a sick child
- Serious conditions and special needs
- Constipation in young children
- Your baby's height and weight
- Baby health and development reviews
- Leg and foot problems in children
- Learning, play and behaviour
- Safety and accidents
Some pregnant women find they get lots of headaches. They are most common in early pregnancy and usually improve or stop completely during the last 6 months.
They don't harm your baby, but they can be uncomfortable for you.
Headaches can sometimes be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually from around 20 weeks of pregnancy or soon after the baby is delivered. Pre-eclampsia can lead to serious complications if it's not moitored and treated.
Call your midwife or maternity unit immediately if you have:
- a severe headache
- problems with vision, such as blurring or seeing flashing lights
- pain just below your ribs
- a sudden increase in swelling of your face, hands, feet or ankles
Any of these could be signs of pre-eclampsia and need to be checked.
Coping with headaches in pregnancy
Paracetamol is the first choice of painkiller if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. It's been taken by many pregnant and breastfeeding women with no harmful effects in the mother or baby.
However, for safety, if you take paracetamol in pregnancy or while breastfeeding, take it for the shortest possible time.
You can get advice from your pharmacist, midwife or GP about how much paracetamol you can take and for how long.
Read more about taking paracetamol in pregnancy.
There are some painkillers you should avoid in pregnancy – such as those containing codeine, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen – unless prescribed by your doctor.
You can also make changes to your lifestyle to help prevent and treat headaches. Try to:
- drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
- get enough sleep – read tiredness and sleep in pregnancy to find out more about tackling this
- rest and relax – you could try a pregnancy yoga class, for example
Find out more about health problems in pregnancy.
if you can't speak to your GP and don't know what to do next.
Page last reviewed: 20/04/2016
Next review due: 20/04/2019