I am an ‘irregular’ Migraine sufferer I am used to getting them randomly and not very often. I haven’t figured out what triggers them yet either even after all these years. I got my first Migraine when I was pregnant with Kyd 9 years ago. I was at the end of my pregnancy though and they became quite frequent and carried on through the 6 months that I was breastfeeding. But then they stopped... well sort of... I have had a handful of severe migraines since, as I have managed to easily control many of them with off the counter meds. I carry them around in my handbag just in case, as when they start they get to their worst quite quickly....
Only problem is... I’m now 11 weeks pregnant and, as most of you know, pregnant people can’t take ANYTHING! So I can’t prevent, fix or cure it. All I can take is Paraceptamol and that doesn’t help when it gets in to full swing.
I got my first one in ages a few weeks ago in hospital and I put it down to the meds they’d given me. (For those that have never had one I’ll describe it) My eye sight started going with bright flashes of lights in front of my eyes (Aura), my head started pounding and the lights in the waiting room were so bright I had to wear sunglasses... inside... in December... I think the staff thought I was being a diva to be honest. It gradually got worse, my speech started slurring, it was like I couldn’t group my words into a sentence and when I could they just wouldn’t transfer from my brain to my mouth. By the time I had been in to see the specialist that I was waiting for, I had got to the pins and needles stage. They start in one of your fingertips, they then gradually work their way up and down my fingers, moving gradually around my body in most cases. I’ve had them in my nose, face and arms before and it is quite a scary feeling when you don’t know what it is that’s going on! I thought I was having a stroke the first time it happened but now I know its normal I try and ignore it. It doesn’t last long and it’s almost like a warning for me really, because soon after that stops, I know the nausea will start. Now, nausea and migraines with me can vary from just feeling a little bit sick, to violently being sick and I never quite know what to expect. I tend to stay walking distance from a toilet or a bucket and avoid any movement. After that I always fall asleep.
You’d think that’d be it.... NOPE this can reoccur in random orders for up to 72 hours... 72 HOURS!! And after that you feel like you’ve got the worst hangover in the world without a drop to drink!... so the horrible ‘I didn’t get anything from it’ kind of hangover! It can affect me for up to a week after and I can’t look at the computer screen or watch too much tele as I can’t focus. I can’t read words, say words, spell words and it’s almost like being 5 again. My memory is never very good but after a migraine ‘attack’, as they’re called, I have no memory at all for names, numbers and general things. I could be using this as an excuse for my Blonde Moments... but the truth is, I use my Blonde Moments as an excuse for these occasions. It is so much easier for me to explain to people that I’m just being Blonde, than it is for me to say ‘It’s the after effects of a migraine I had 2 days ago’ people who don’t get severe migraines just don’t get it!! So I will carry on with using my hair colour as an excuse and those who know me know that my ‘blonde moments’ and my ‘after effects’ now just sort of roll into one... and are generally known as ‘Alicisms’.
I have now have had 3 migraines since that day in the hospital each at varying stages and the last one starting Monday night and although I felt better Thursday the ‘Alicisms’ are still in full flow today. I’ve had to spell check this 4 times and there will still be mistakes. My doc told me yesterday that there is not really much I can do but hope and pray that they stop after the first Trimester... Oh the joys of being pregnant.
Anyway I’ve learnt a lot the past few days researching what causes Migraines in Pregnancy and I thought I’d share with you some of my pearls of wisdom that I have picked up from the tinternet... clever this tinternet malarkey isn’t it... take a read even if you don’t get migraines as they can strike anyone at anytime and it’s good to be prepared... Enjoy...
Some Facts on Pregnancy Migraines:
Hormonal change in women is a common trigger for those prone to migraine. This is often shown in pregnancy when the sex hormone levels show profound changes which has an effect on whether your migraine get better or worse. Oestrogen sometimes reaches one hundred times the normal level, whilst progesterone levels decrease, rising again towards the end of the pregnancy. However, the fluctuation of levels is not as pronounced as during the non-pregnant state, which may be why migraine often improves during pregnancy. This improvement may also be due to the increased levels of natural pain-killing hormones (endorphins). These are several times higher during pregnancy, and though the relief from migraines they provide might last the whole pregnancy, the levels settle back down after delivery, normally allowing migraine attacks to recur.
However, it is not always the case that your migraine will improve, especially in the early weeks of pregnancy. For some women, migraine can go on unchanged, or more rarely even get worse.... (Oh another reason why I’m RARE... Jees can I not just be normal for a change!)
During the first three months the symptoms of pregnancy can make your migraine worse. Morning sickness can mean that you feel like eating and drinking less which can cause low blood sugar and dehydration. If you are not careful this can make your migraines worse. You should try to eat small frequent meals and drink frequent small amounts of water to prevent this. You will also be helping reduce any pregnancy sickness.
Studies show that migraine without aura improves after the first three months of pregnancy for about 60-70% of women. This is the case especially if your migraine has been linked to your menstrual cycle.
...If you experience migraine with aura you are more likely to continue to have attacks during your pregnancy. Also if you experience migraine for the first time while you are pregnant it is likely to be with aura.... (OH JOY! Well that’s something to look forward too isn’t it... NOT!)
So what can you do to help it...
Ideally, all drug treatments should be avoided, as many are either considered unsafe or their safety has not been tested in pregnancy or breast feeding. The use of any drugs during pregnancy or while breast feeding needs to be discussed with your doctor, so that you can weigh up the relative risks and benefits of any treatment.
For treating a migraine attack as it begins, paracetamol is the drug considered safe during pregnancy and breast feeding. This should be taken in soluble form at the earliest signs of an attack, preferably together with something to eat. Aspirin has been used by many pregnant women in the first and second terms of pregnancy. Aspirin should be avoided nearer to the expected time of the birth as it can increase bleeding. Ibruprofen should not be taken in doses over 600mg per day.
If you need anti-sickness drugs for your migraine, the following have been widely used in pregnancy without evidence of harm: buclizine, chlorpromazine and prochlorperazine. Domperidone and metoclopramide are safe in pregnancy, but they are probably best avoided in the first three months. Again, you will need advice from your doctor on what is best for you.
Many women prefer to take complementary and alternative medicines such as homoeopathic and herbal remedies rather than traditional medicines whilst they are pregnant, considering them to be milder. It is important to remember some complementary treatments can have an unwanted effect on your pregnancy just as conventional medicines can. For instance, some women find aromatherapy massage very helpful, and may be unaware that some essential oils (rosemary for example) need to be avoided. Reflexology treatment is not always advisable during pregnancy, and all complementary medicines should be taken under supervision of a qualified practitioner. Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy.
Non-drug treatments certainly can be helpful, and massage, acupuncture, relaxation and biofeedback have been found to be useful by some. Some women also find applications of heat or cold to the head can be useful.
So then, not really much I can do to fix me really is there?... I’ve just got to get on with it and hope and pray it sorts itself out! I’m lucky really because I know a few Alternative Therapist’s so I’ll be going to them for some advice and treatments as I’m slightly stuck as to what to do.... also I might wangle a lovely Day Spa trip out of it... it’s worth a try isn’t it! *wink*
JUST TO ADD: If you do think you are experiencing migraine for the first time whilst you are pregnant it is important to visit your GP so the causes for your head pain can be found and treated if necessary. Pre-eclampsia, for example, can have symptoms similar to migraine.
OH AND... There is no evidence that migraine (with or without aura) has an effect on the outcome of the pregnancy. Migraine in a mother does not harm or endanger her baby.