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How can you prevent migraine headaches in pregnancy?

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If you have severe, recurring attacks, preventive treatment may stop future attacks or reduce their severity. Many of the drugs used for prevention were originally used for other conditions, such as high blood pressure.

See a neurologist experienced with treating pregnant women. She'll prescribe a low-dose medicine and likely recommend some kind of talk therapy. Relatively safe medications for migraines include beta-blockers, such as propranolol and labetalol, as well as calcium channel blockers such as verapamil.

When you're pregnant, always talk with your doctor before taking any drug, herbal product, or natural medicine.

If you can't take medications or wish not to, there are some devices which might be worth considering. Cefaly is a portable headband-like device gives electrical impulses on the skin at the forehead. This stimulates a nerve associated with migraine headaches. Cefaly is used once a day for 20 minutes, and when it's on you'll feel a tingling or massaging sensation.

SpringTMS  is a magnet placed on the back of the head at the first sign of a headache. It gives off a split-second magnetic pulse that stimulates part of the brain. It usually has no side effects. Also, gammaCore is a hand-held portable device which is a noninvasive vagus nerve stimulator (nVS). When placed over the vagus nerve in the neck, it releases a mild electrical stimulation to the nerve's fibers to relieve pain.

If you're seeing a headache specialist, double-check with your obstetrician or certified midwife about the safety of any medications used during pregnancy. While migraine pain may be excruciating, taking a risk with your baby's health could cause lifelong health problems for your child.

SOURCES:

National Women's Health Information Center: "Migraine."

Migraine Research Foundation: "About Migraine."

OB/GYN News: "Migraine Drugs."

National Headache Foundation: "Migraine."

Northwestern University Medical School and Illinois Department of Public Health: "Migraine Headache and Pregnancy."

American Headache Society: "Commonly Used Acute Migraine Treatments."

U.S. News & World Report: "Migraine Medications May Cause Serotonin Syndrome."

National Guideline Clearinghouse: "Special Treatment Situations: Standards of Care for Headache Diagnosis and Treatment."

HHS: Indian Health Service: Maternal Child Health: "Migraine and Pregnancy."

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Headache."

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 22, 2018

SOURCES:

National Women's Health Information Center: "Migraine."

Migraine Research Foundation: "About Migraine."

OB/GYN News: "Migraine Drugs."

National Headache Foundation: "Migraine."

Northwestern University Medical School and Illinois Department of Public Health: "Migraine Headache and Pregnancy."

American Headache Society: "Commonly Used Acute Migraine Treatments."

U.S. News & World Report: "Migraine Medications May Cause Serotonin Syndrome."

National Guideline Clearinghouse: "Special Treatment Situations: Standards of Care for Headache Diagnosis and Treatment."

HHS: Indian Health Service: Maternal Child Health: "Migraine and Pregnancy."

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: "Headache."

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 22, 2018

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