How can you relieve a headache when you’re pregnant? Could alternative remedies help?
Fluctuating hormones can cause headaches in early pregnancy. But treating headaches is, well, a bit of a headache!
So what's safe for you when a headache strikes? Any why can't you just reach for an aspirin?In 2003, scientists in California suggested that ibuprofen and aspirin increased the risk of miscarriage, and most doctors now advise against using these painkillers in pregnancy. Paracetamol is a safer alternative in the early months of pregnancy, but beware of popping too many paracetamol after 20 weeks, as it can increase the risk of your baby developing asthma.Women who took paracetamol on most days or every day in the second half of their pregnancy were twice as likely to have babies who wheezed through early childhood than mums who never took paracetamol, found a UK study in the 1990s, monitoring the health of more than 14,000 families.However, it appears safer to take the odd paracetamol than to dabble with herbal remedies, as ‘natural’ does not always mean safe.
Talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplements, as some of them have nasty side effects.
Some women swear by acupuncture for pregnancy headaches.
If the thought of needles puts you off, try shiatsu massage, which is less invasive, though tell the practitioner you are pregnant beforehand.
Check with your doctor or midwife, but also consult a qualified herbalist rather than use over-the-counter herbal preparations.
Dr Lowri Kew, GP
“When I first started getting pregnancy headaches I was taking paracetamol, but then I did worry that even that might not be a good idea, so I just switched to different habits – taking a long soothing bath with some nice candles and making sure I kept up my intake of water through the day. These actually really helped and it made me feel better to keep my pregnancy ‘natural’.”
Laura, 35, mum to Sam, 2
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