For many women, pregnancy brings relief from headaches, but not all women are so lucky. Some actually experience more symptoms, particularly in the first trimester. “Consequently, these women may require pharmacotherapy during this period, which also corresponds to the most vulnerable period of fetal development,” wrote Katerina Nezvalova-Henriksen, MD, and her colleagues in the journal Cephalalgia.
Dr. Nezvalova-Henriksen and her fellow researchers analyzed data from over 60,000 pregnant women who were part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Just under 6% had at least one migraine in the first five months of pregnancy; 73% of this group turned to migraine medications (primarily non-narcotic analgesics and triptans). Insufficient sleep turned out to be a big contributing factor: women who had less than five hours of sleep each night were 50% more likely to use migraine drugs during pregnancy than women who had more sleep. Being overweight prior to pregnancy (as determined by a high body mass index), being on sick leave, and acute musculoskeletal pain (back, neck or shoulder pain) were also risk factors.