Headaches in pregnancy 20 weeks and over
There are many reasons why you might have a headache; most of these are unrelated to your pregnancy. Dehydration is one of the commonest reasons for developing a headache. It is important that you remain well hydrated during pregnancy and avoid dehydration, especially in hot weather (6-8 medium glasses or 1.6L throughout the day). Try taking simple paracetamol at home; it is safe to take 2x 500mg tablets (1g) of paracetamol every 4 to 6 hours, not exceeding 4g in 24 hours. (Do not take NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen during pregnancy).
Always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
You can't sleep
Makes daily life difficult to manage
Makes it hard to concentrate
You can manage to get up, wash or dress
Comes and goes
You can manage to sleep
Is annoying but doesn't stop you doing things like going to work
Call 999 if you/ the pregnant woman has any of the following
Having a seizure (fit)
Unable to speak
Sudden onset of severe headache reaching maximal pain within seconds
Any loss of consciousness
Neck stiffness/ pain or develop a rash that does not disappear with pressure (the ‘Glass Test’)
Numbness or weakness in your arms and/ or legs
Drowsiness or confusion
Contact your GP or NHS 111 out of hours today if you have any of the following
Persistent moderate headache which is not relieved within 12 hours of taking regular paracetamol (2x 500mg tablets 4-6 hourly)
Visual or hearing disturbance, double vision
Temperature 38°C or over (or feel hot to touch)
Contact your maternity unit within 1 hour if you have a headache with any of the following:
Epigastric pain (under your ribs on the right side not related to your baby’s movements)
Visual disturbances- these are usually “flashing lights” seen in front of the eyes- not related to standing up
Persistent or sudden swelling particularly around the face
Reduced baby movements
Pre eclampsia in a previous pregnancy
Previous concerns about your blood pressure at your midwife or doctor’s appointment
You are taking any medication for your blood pressure
Your headache settles when taking paracetamol.
Your headache improves when drinking enough fluids. (6-8 medium glasses or 1.6L throughout the day) or after a sleep.
Swelling in your hands and feet that improves when lying down
If you suffer with migraine and you are experiencing a typical migraine headache
For more information on pre eclampsia click here
For more information on sepsis click here
Contact your maternity unit if you are still concerned. And speak to your community midwife at your next appointment.
Paracetamol 2x 500mg tablets (1g) 4-6 hourly not exceeding 4g in 24hours. Do not take NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen whilst pregnant.