How to Manage Headaches at End of Pregnancy

Headaches can strike at any time during your pregnancy, so even if you sailed through the first two trimester without any symptoms, you could develop an aching head late in your pregnancy. Late pregnancy headaches often are the result of tension caused by the weight of the developing baby or preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy. However, migraine headaches and sinus headaches also can occur in the third trimester. Because many medications are contraindicated during pregnancy, relieving headaches using natural methods is preferable.

Pregnant woman sitting down while holding her head in pain. (Image: Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Maintain your posture. Standing and sitting up straight keeps your spine aligned and prevents strain on your muscles that can lead to headaches.

Step 2

Lie or sit down and rest at the first sign of a headache. Dim the lights and elevate your feet slightly.

Step 3

Use a cold compress on the back of your neck to relieve a tension headache. A warm compress on the forehead, eyes and nose works for sinus headaches during late pregnancy.

Step 4

Get a massage. A massage relieves the immediate pain of a headache and releases headache-inducing tension that is built up in your shoulders and neck.

Step 5

Take a warm bath. This relaxes your muscles and relieves pain, tension and sinus congestion, so it helps for various types of headaches.

Step 6

Eat small, frequent, healthy meals. This keeps your blood sugar steady and makes future headaches less likely, since low blood sugar can trigger a headache.

Step 7

Avoid any foods or situations that trigger headaches for you. Common food triggers include chocolate, peanuts, yogurt, cheese, yeast breads, fermented foods, preserved meats and sour cream. Environmental triggers can include fluorescent lights, loud noises, strong odors, tobacco smoke and extreme heat or cold.

Things You'll Need

  • Cool or warm compress

  • Warm bath


Don't take over-the-counter pain medication unless your physician advises it. Ibuprofen and aspirin typically are avoided during pregnancy, but acetaminophen might be OK if non-pharmaceutical methods do not work.

If your headaches feel worse than usual or does not subside after using these remedies, contact your doctor. Other signs of a potential problem that require immediate medical attention include blurred vision, hand and facial swelling, sudden weight gain and abdominal pain.

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