I’m one of the unfortunate people who has suffered with migraines all my life. I remember coming home and throwing up with them as early as Elementary school. When I was pregnant with our first baby, I told my doctor I was worried about not being able to take migraine medicine and being able to manage my migraines throughout my pregnancy.
She said “let’s use 90 migraine sufferers to make things simple. During pregnancy, 30 of those people will have no migraines at all, 30 of those people will have less migraines than usual, and 30 of them will have the same amount of migraines they’ve always had.”
There must be some other small category that I’m lucky enough to fit into where migraines get way worse during pregnancy. Not just the first trimester. The ENTIRE time.
This time around, I was determined to figure something out for my migraines, but nothing helped. Add to that the fact that I have to take progesterone shots weekly throughout this pregnancy, and you have quite the recipe for horrible migraines.
The midwife center that I’m going to in our new town for my prenatal appointments gave me some pointers for managing migraines during pregnancy, and I thought I would pass it along in case anyone out there has been struggling with this as much as me.
Please understand that you should run all of these suggestions by your doctor before trying any of them, no matter how desperate for a solution you are. I’m not a doctor (far from it!) and what my midwives or doctors have suggested to me may be far different from how your healthcare provider would treat you. Be careful!
What Worked For Me
First, the good part. What has actually worked. My midwife center calls this their cocktail: one Sudafed, two Tylenol, and a can of Coke.
I realize Coke during pregnancy isn’t exactly the healthiest thing for the baby. Unfortunately, neither are migraines. During the 1st trimester of this pregnancy, I ended up in the ER after a fainting spell brought on by dehydration from one of my migraines. Dehydration is likely what landed me in the hospital during my second trimester with my first baby for preterm labor. Dehydration is the number one cause of preterm labor. Be so much more careful than I was. If you have migraines, no matter what it takes, please stay hydrated to make sure you don’t risk any early appearances by your little one!
Some other suggestions for headache prevention from my midwife:
Magnesium GLYSINATE – Please! Make sure you pick up the Glysinate form of magnesium, not the cheap oxide available at most stores. Magnesium oxide can actually have adverse effects on your headaches. This is the exact one I use.
Take magnesium every day. I have been trying to do this. I take a pill in the morning and a pill at night. Diarrhea is a side effect of magnesium oxide, so if you’re noticing this symptom, double check the form of magnesium you’re taking is the correct one.
Milk of Magnesia has been shown to work too. Take one teaspoon per day with food.
CoQ10 at a dosage of 300 mg a day.
Carnitine amino acid 333 mg, three times a day with meals.
If you already have a headache, my midwife told me to try various combinations of the following drugs every 6 hours.
Tylenol 650-1000 mg
Sudafed 30-60 mg
Magnesium 800-1000 mg
Benadryl 25-50 mg (I should note that during a really bad migraine my husband called the midwife center to see if there was anything we could do for the pain and vomiting. They told him to give my Benadryl and it should help with the nausea at least. I ended up going to the ER for an IV and didn’t get to try this, but other mommies I know swear that it works!)
Butterbur 50-75 mg BID (use standardized extract only)
More Serious Options – Definitely Discuss With Your Doctor!
Apparently, my migraines weren’t bad enough for my midwife to consider these options, but they were technically options if I had made a bigger fuss about the pain I was in.
During pregnancy, doctors can prescribe beta blockers to be taken daily to hopefully help alleviate some of your migraine pain. Reglan is also an option. Reglan works great for my migraines during breastfeeding when coupled with Naproxen, so I’m sure it would help throughout pregnancy if your doctor agrees to try it.
Higher dosages of Benedryl or Zofran for nausea.
Sumatriptan. Oh Imitrex…how I miss thee…
Tylenol #3 or Flexeril as needed, but only in extreme cases.
If you suffer from migraines during pregnancy like I do, I hope some of these treatments from my doctor are able to help you. I would start with the Sudafed, Tylenol, coke mixture after discussing it with your doctor to see if you have any luck. I was able to go a whole month during my second pregnancy without a single migraine thanks to this little cocktail.
Whatever you decide, if you have migraines and are pregnant, please know that my thoughts are with you. I know it’s no fun – believe me!
Do you suffer with migraines? Did they get better or worse during pregnancy? What helped you? Let me know in the comments!