Nighttime Headaches During Pregnancy

Updated on May 15, 2009
S.L. asks from Brownsville, TX
15 answers

Hi there moms! I'm hoping someone out there has shared in my experience and can offer a little advice.
I am 5 1/2 months pregnant. About a month ago I started getting terrible headaches in the middle of the night. I go to bed feeling fine and wake up around 3:00, to pee of course, and within seconds of waking up my head feels like it is going to explode. The headache will not go away on it's own and by morning I am so miserable I have to take my Excedrin Tension pills and pray for relief. **Excedrin Tension are acetaminophen only, without aspirin (the Excedrin Migraine contain aspirin) and a little caffeine.
I don't know what to do and I am so miserable most mornings that I have started sleeping in a little bit and leaving my 5 year old alone for about half an hour because "mommy needs to close her eyes a little bit longer".
Now, a little bit about me that may help with my diagnosis. At 3 months along, my ob/gyn diagnosed me with gestational high blood pressure. I take Methyldopa twice a day and monitor my blood pressure at home 3x a day and it really isn't an issue anymore. I take this, my iron pill, and my prenatal at bedtime with a large glass of water and a TUMS chaser. I drink water all day long, so I doubt my headaches are from dehydration. I sleep on my left side 50% of the time and sitting up with 3 king size pillows behind me the other 50% so I don't think it's lack of blood flow by sleeping in the wrong position. I am not congested so I am breathing just fine. My two boys sleep through the night, my husband and I don't go to bed angry, I don't go to bed with my thoughts racing, I don't go to bed on an empty stomach...HELP!!
I have been seeing my doctor weekly since the high blood pressure and headaches began. I am 37 so having hit the trifecta, I am officially a high risk pregnancy. I swear I feel fine most days, after the headache goes away, but until I get these headaches under control my doctor wants me in every week. He did prescribe Fioricet but I am too scared to take it because it is a barbituate. The last thing I want is a baby addicted to pain killers! I already feel guilty taking Excedrin and my bp meds.
Are there any moms out there who have gone through the same thing? Everyone is so worried about me and I feel awful that everyone is suffering along with me. My father has even begged me not to get pregnant again because I am not healthy.

What can I do next?

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answers from College Station on

I had hormone related migranes with my second. It sounds different than everything you're going through. But I found that if I laid down for even 15 min it kept me from getting them. I would just suggest getting more rest.

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answers from Odessa on

I just read in a health magazine about B2 helping with migrains. You might consider increasing your B vitamins.

Excedrin tension, I don't believe, has aspirin as was previously posted. I took a lot of ibuprofen prior to pregnancy and of course couldn't when I got pregnant. The doc prescribed Lortab for my pain. I took them 1/2 at a time. It controlled my pain and my baby was not born addicted. The doc wouldn't prescribe the Fioricet if he were concerned about the baby being addicted. Take them minimally and get the relief you need. Too much aceteminophen is dangerous.

I really like the post by the midwife. She had some great tips to keep things in check. I would really follow what she recommended.

Best wishes for a healty pregnancy!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

This really sounds like a blood pressure and Blood sugar problem. Did your doctor suggest you eat a little something when you wake up to pee? Also do not just jump up out of bed. Move slower and lift your head slower.

Also acu- pressure by squeezing/ pinching between the thumb and the forefinger will give you a little bit of relief.

You need to do what you have to do to get through this. I know taking medication is disturbing, but sometimes we have to take them for the health of our child. You must have rest to be strong for the actual labor and then to be ready to care for your little one..

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answers from Houston on

Are you monitoring your blood pressure at home and doing daily kick counts? Could your pressures be higher at night? When my blood pressure is high it can trigger a migraine. I'm prone to migraines anyway even when not pregnant.

I took Lortab occassionally during my last pregnancy due to migraines with no issues. Trust me I'm more impaired with a migraine than on narcotics for a migraine. And I had a toddler to take care of, so I had to be able to function.

During my last pregnancy my pressures were labile, but they were more likely to be high at night. I wound up with preeclampsia. My pressures spiked postpartum, and I was also put on Methyldopa. I felt better taking my dose 3X/day instead of 2X/day- I think at 2X/day the dose was wearing off.

Since you are high risk are you being overseen by a MFM? Has your doctor discussed the possibility of an early delivery?

As you probably know gestational hypertension- and having migraines during pregnancy- carries an increased risk of preeclampsia. Be on the lookout for other symptoms of preeclampsia including increased facial swelling, upper-right quadrant or epigastric pain, vomiting, visual changes, or an non-stop severe headache that doesn't respond to medication. For more info on preeclampisa and gestational hypertension:

ETA: Of course talk to your doc before taking any med or supplements. Herbs that have a diuretic effect can lower blood pressure but should only be taken with a doctor's approval IMO since you are high-risk.

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answers from Killeen on

I like Laurie A's response...But...

Get off the [email protected]!!

Does your doctor know you take it? Did he/she tell you to?? You are officially a high risk pregnancy, Excedrin has aspirin AND ibuprofen in it, high risk pregnancies should ONLY take meds that are tylenol based! Unless due to the High BP issue you need to be on either of these really not good for baby medications...Did your OBGYN mention this?

Take acetomenephin instead try the lowest dose to begin with with and move up if it's not enough to help your headache...

I would seek the second opinion of another high risk specializing OBGYN in this case...if you are seeing this person every week and you are not seeing any relief AND they are not able to explain WHY you are having the headaches then I, personally would feel more comfortable seeking a second opinion...

Good Luck! ;-)

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answers from Houston on

You should be taking your night meds with orange or grapefruit juice. The citrus helps your body to absorb the iron better (& I didn't get an upset tummy after!). There are tricks with iron... too little can give you headaches and too much can also give you headaches! I'd give the juice a try and if it doesn't change after a few days ask your doc if you could be getting too much? Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Take the medication your Dr prescribed. The only risk for addiction really happens during the 3rd trimester and 2nd trimester headaches are very common. My Dr prescribes darvocet and believe me it's the only thing that works. At 5 1/2 months you don't have to be this miserable. You have plenty of time to get off the pills before your baby comes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I am a midwife and just because you are 37 does not automatically make you high risk. We have women all the time that are in their 40's and giving birth. It sounds like your headaches are due to low blood sugar. You need to eat something high in protein before going to bed. This will keep your blood sugar on an even keel most of the night. Also, you need to quit taking tums. Tums has calcium in it that is poorly assimilated so the majority of it will deposit in the placenta and this will cause an unhealthy placenta. Lastly, there are many natural things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. Exercise is very important, deep relaxation can help, and changes in diet. Watermelon, cucumber, parsley, and onion all reduce blood pressure. You can also take herbs such as hops, skullcap, passionflower and hawthorn. You should also increase your calcium intake (but not with tums:) Garlic capsules can also decrease blood pressure. There are many things you can do to improve your health but you must be proactive.


P.S. Someone suggested doing fetal kick counts but this will not be reliable until you are about 34 weeks pregnant.

P.P.S. Another poster suggested eliminating salt from your diet. DO NOT DO THIS! It is extremely dangerous and low salt intake can lead you right into pre-eclampsia. Your body must have salt in order to up your blood volume to support the pregnancy.

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answers from Austin on

I suggest massage since you seem to have tried other avenues for relief. If you can get a prescription for Physical Therapy, call Wellness Matters if you are in Austin. Cullen, the owner is wonderful and so is Julee, a therapist. ###-###-####. If your husband is willing, he can also massage your neck and shoulders enough to help. There are therapists that specialize in pre-natal massage. I think you would love it and hopefully, it would help with the headaches. Bless you. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

well I to had high blood pressure with my first baby and I did not take my bp pills ( not recommending you do that ) thank GOD I had a healthy baby. have you ever tried alfalfa it's the mother of all roots talk to your Dr first of course I just know that alfalfa helps with so many problems including headaches.... stay on that left side as much as possible

Best of luck



answers from Houston on

I read some of the response but thought that I would give my two sense for what it is worth. IF your prescribed it for you it should be okay. I have migraines all the time whether I am pregnant or not. I had to take narcotics while pregnant with my second, my doctor also took me off of them about three weeks before I was due so that the baby would not be addicted to them. None of this it due to you not being healthy some people handle pregnancy diffrently than others and one pregnancy will be diffrent than the next.
(Ex. I only gianed 15 pound with my first and 55 with my second and my first was the bigger baby, and they were both girls). Talk to you doctor, if you have any question he or she will answer them and tell you what you need to do, maybe make a food journal so that at you next appointment you and your dr. can go over it and maybe there is something that is being missed. Just take it slow and remember that the dr. is there to help you. Good Luck.



answers from San Antonio on

S., You need to be talking with a chiropractor or nutritionist and use natural methods instead of drugs that may have an adverse effect. One thing that works for relieving headaches is eating a couple of stalks of celery. Also, cinnamon helps drop blood pressure. They do no harm. My Mother dropped her blood pressure just by eating a few teaspoons of cinnamon a day. It can be on a piece of toast. If you don't like celery, try it with a little peanut butter. Also, since you experience the headaches in the middle of the night, it may be related to the time you are taking the iron pill, and tums. Discuss this with a naturopathic or chiropractor. Are you sure you need the prenatal vitamins and the iron pill? I always took my vitamins in the morning with breakfast. Also, I ate plain vanilla yogurt with a banana to help get enough calcium instead of tums. I hope this helps.



answers from Houston on

Just my 2 cents but it sounds like your blood pressure is causing the headaches. You may be getting up to a standing position too fast. I know when your half asleep it's hard to get up slowly, especially when you have to pee, but you may want to try getting up in stages first to a sitting position then wait a few minutes then stand.

I know when my blood pressure is up I have those pounding head going to explode headaches. Also once you've gone to the restroom when you lie down elevate your feet. When you rest during the day you may want to also try and elevate your feet this should help with the headaches too.

Sorry you are so miserable, although I was not high risk I was sick and miserable my whole pregnancy so I can relate. Just take it easy, take your meds if you need to, try and maintain the healthy life style of moderate exercise and eating right! I'm sure everything will be fine! Hang in there remember this is only temporary!



answers from Houston on

Edit: I was just repremanded by another mom for posting this. Of course every pregnant woman should consult with her doctor before making any changes. I meant no harm. I was only saying what had helped me. I eliminated the words that were objectionable to the other reader.



answers from Houston on

have you taken your blood pressure when you wake up with these headaches? your bp meds may not be working for you feel dizzy when you get up at night? get up slow..sit up slow on the end of the bed and then slowly go from sitting to standing...

what time do you take your bp meds?

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