Video Q & A:

Women

Question:

How do I handle migraines while I'm pregnant?

Expert:   Audrey Halpern, MD, PC, Executive Director, Manhattan Center for Headache & Neurology »

The unlucky women who still have to cope with migraines during pregnancy will have to adjust their typical treatment plan to make sure their babies are safe. Watch this if you're a migraineur looking to get pregnant.

Transcript: If you have a history of migraine, you might worry about how to treat them when you’re not even ALLOWED to take an aspirin for a simple backache. Don’t worry, though—you DO have options…although you may not even need them. About 7 out of 10 women experience a break from migraine attacks while they’re pregnant. Even when the headaches don’t stop RIGHT away, they usually disappear by the end of the first trimester, all because of increased estrogen levels. During pregnancy, you should be EXTRA-vigilant about avoiding YOUR migraine triggers. Common ones include stress, certain foods, bright lights and loud sounds, changes in your sleeping and eating pattern, and some medications. When prevention fails, the smart first step is to try out home remedies, such as deep relaxation exercises and techniques, sleep, massage and ice packs. One study found that after these sorts of treatments, 79 percent of pregnant women said they felt better. When medication IS necessary, the first drug that is recommended is acetaminophen—or Tylenol. There may be other, more high-powered migraine medications that you can use, but many of them have not been studied on pregnant women, although animal studies indicate they may cause problems. For example,TRIPTANS are a class of fast-acting migraine drugs taken at the beginning of an attack. Sumatriptan is the most-studied triptan drug and the data show that it DOESN’T increase the risk of birth defects if taken during pregnancy, but it IS associated with premature births and excessive bleeding after delivery. The other triptans haven’t been researched as much, but so far, evidence indicates they may be relatively safe to take while you are pregnant, but carry the same risks as sumatriptan. Migraine treatments are complicated WITHOUT the added stress of protecting a fetus, but there are definitely alternatives out there for pregnant women. If you’re concerned about experiencing migraines during pregnancy, be sure to explore your options with your doctor before reaching for your usual medications. ¬¬¬For more information about migraine and pregnancy, watch other videos in this series! More »

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