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Migraine & Pregnancy: 5 Must-Read Articles

Most pregnant women want to avoid all medications during pregnancy, but that’s not always practical with a health issue like migraine. Doing so can lead to other problems, like severe weight loss, that could be even more dangerous than taking certain medications. These must-read articles answer questions about migraine during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which medications are safe, weighing your migraine management options and more.

Migraine and Pregnancy
A brief overview migraine and pregnancy, this article from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston starts with advice for women considering becoming pregnant and answers common questions about migraine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

You Are Pregnant (or Planning to Have a Baby)
Is your migraine frequency or severity likely to change during pregnancy? Can having migraine attacks while pregnant harm your baby? The National Headache Foundation shares statistics and answers questions.

What To Expect With Pregnancy and Delivery
This excerpt from The Woman’s Migraine Toolkit provides detailed and easy-to-understand explanation how hormones during pregnancy and after delivery can impact migraine. (Diana Lee of Somebody Heal Me, who is expecting a baby in July, recommends this book.)

Expert Answer: How can I manage my migraines during pregnancy?
A headache specialist talks about the importance of creating a migraine treatment plan for use while pregnant, which medications are safe to use during pregnancy and what alternative treatments a pregnant woman can consider trying.

A Migraine Mama’s Advice on Balancing Medication Usage During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
A chronic migraineur reconsidered her resolve to avoid all migraine medications during pregnancy after her migraines spiraled out of control and she lost 15 pounds before her first OB appointment. She describes the emotional wrangling of finding the balance between getting the treatment she needed without endangering the pregnancy.

And remember, your particular situation may be different than those addressed in any of these articles. Work with your doctors to find the safest, most effective treatment approach for you. Having migraine attacks while pregnant isn’t harmful, but they are a physically stressful event. Your body is already stressed enough with the changes of pregnancy, so it’s extra important to take good care of yourself and treat your migraines appropriately.

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Migraine & Headache News From the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting

Migraine-related study findings presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, April 12-19.

Migraine Increases Risk of Severe Skin Sensitivity and Pain
The study found that 68 percent of those who reported almost daily headaches (chronic migraine) and 63 percent of those with episodic migraines reported allodynia, the name of this intensified and unpleasant, painful skin sensitivity. Forty-two percent of people with probable migraine reported the skin pain compared to 37 percent of those with daily or tension headache.

Migraine Frequency Linked with Women’s Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
New research shows women who have weekly migraine are significantly more likely to have a stroke than those with fewer migraines or no migraine at all, but those with lower migraine frequency may face increased risk of heart attacks.

Breastfeeding While Taking Seizure Medicine Does Not Appear to Harm Children
A first of its kind study finds breastfeeding while taking certain seizure medications does not appear to harm a child’s cognitive development.

Children with Migraine at Increased Risk of Sleep Disturbances
Children with migraine are more likely to have sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and lack of sleep, than children without migraine, according to research on the effects of headaches on children’s sleep patterns.

Overuse of Codeine, Oxycodone and Barbiturates Increases Risk of Chronic Migraine
People who overuse barbiturates and opioids, such as codeine, butalbital, and oxycodone, to treat migraine are at an increased risk of developing chronic migraine.

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Headaches, Hormones & Breastfeeding: Purely Anecdotal But Interesting

I saw a new OB/GYN last week (and loved her). Not surprisingly, we talked about headaches and hormones. Turns out she has frequent headaches too, which she thinks are hormonal.

When I asked how they were when she was pregnant, she said that they were better during her pregnancy and while she was breastfeeding. When her milk production slowed down and she began to wean her son, she had a two-week long headache. During this time, of course, her hormone levels were changing. She also said that her friend had the same experience. This is anecdotal of course, but it’s food for thought.

I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of what hormonal headaches are about (I flirted with the idea that mine are menstrual, but am sure they aren’t), but some resources include American Council for Headache Education, the National Headache Foundation and the National Women’s Health Information Center. I found this last resource to be most helpful.

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Breastfeeding and Headache Meds

According to About.com’s headache and migraine page, women who breastfeed can take some headache meds without exposing their babies to the drugs. The article outlines what precautions mothers should follow if they wish to take abortants or preventives while breastfeeding. Of course, women should consult with their doctors and choose their meds carefully.

Breastfeeding with Head Pain Disorders: What’s Safe, What’s Not and How to Find Out