Headaches May Signal Serious Conditions in Pregnancy

June 17, 2014
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Risks of Narcotics in PregnancyAs if raging hormones and growing pains weren’t enough, most pregnant women struggle with at least one bad headache or two. But a recent study from The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist suggests that not all headaches are created equal. In fact, some of them can even be signs of rare, serious conditions that require further medical treatment.

The literature review revealed that neurological issues are the third leading cause of maternal deaths in the U.K. Further, expecting mothers who suffer from regular migraine-type headaches have double the risk of developing a condition called preeclampsia, which is characterized as having dangerously high blood pressure and, in some cases, fluid retention and proteinuria (which may signal kidney damage).

Additionally, pregnant women who are classified as obese are at risk of a rare condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension, which is when pressure increases in the skull, causing a headache and, if untreated, even possibly death.

A third cause of pregnancy-related headaches is a condition called cerebral venous thrombosis, or CVT. This involves having a blood clot in the venous sinuses which brings about symptoms such as head pain and vomiting, and can be brought about by a caesarean delivery, infection, or anemia.

For these reasons, it is important for pregnant women to report any headache-related issues to her obstetrician or gynecologist to rule out any serious issues. It is also imperative that chiropractors and other health professionals recognize that head pain in expecting mothers can be a sign of a more serious condition and urge her to seek testing and evaluation to ensure that this is not the case.

However, if the headaches are caused simply by stress, hormones, muscle contractions or nerve impingement, a chiropractor can help alleviate some of the pain through soothing and restoring manipulations. This allows proper blood flow to get to all areas of your body and creates a pregnancy that is full of joy and excitement – not pain and discomfort.

Previous research has demonstrated that chiropractic is effective for migraines and cervicogenic headaches.


Revell K and Morrish P. Headachesin pregnancy. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 2014; DOI: 10.1111/tog.12101 

Rarer causes of headaches in pregnancy need to be considered by health-care professionals. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/277310.php#references.

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