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Migraines in pregnancy - please tell me something positive!

(7 Posts)
jobrum Tue 27-Sep-16 11:13:47

Couldnt find anywhere to fit this into health so putting it here.

I am hoping for some advice/ encouraging stories. During my last pregnancy my migraines increased. I was told to wait to the second trimester, then wait a few more weeks, then a few more… when I was around 20 weeks pregnant the doctors agreed that they were not improving and prescribed me Amitriptyline which did work although the side effects were awful. I had to take them around 7pm or I just would not wake up and it took around three weeks to get to the point where they made me sleepy rather than knocking me out an hour after taking them. I also was shaky and noticed an increase in anxiety for a week or so. But they worked and I stopped taking them at 28 weeks and had no more migraines.

I am pregnant again, nearly 12 weeks, and my migraines returned in the exact same week and are just as bad. I have had one day off sick a week for the last three weeks because of them and the headache lasts a day and half and the build-up and then horrible exhaustion afterwards lasts a couple of days. I take Sumpatriptan when I really have to (last time I was assured that they are safe, even in the first trimester but to try to take as few as I can) but they don’t work as effectively as when I’m not pregnant, cocodamol hardly touches the pain and all I can do is sleep. I’m losing time at work and with my family. Fortunately they’ve occurred either when I can leave my dd in nursery for the day or dh is around. I would not be able to look after her with a bad migraine on my own. I spoke with a lovely helpful doctor who understood why I was reluctant to take the Amitriptyline again and found a beta-blocker used in pregnancy she hoped would work but then discovered that my blood-pressure is too low to take them. I’ve been referred to the neurology department at the hospital but I just want to know if anyone else has been in this position? What worked, how did you manage? Acupuncture helps reduce the intensity I’ve found but not enough to get them manageable. I’m at a loss. The doctor said she could sign me off work as worrying about the migraines might not be helping but I felt bad doing that. My manager and team at work are fantastic which helps. I will take the Amitriptyline again if that is the only option but I think I’ll have to book leave off work for a few weeks until I’m used to it. I’ve been sleep deprived with a baby but taking those was something else!

Sorry this is so long, I just would love to know there is a magic potion out there that will stop these migraines!

jobrum Tue 27-Sep-16 12:44:35

A hopeful bump?

noodlmcdoodl Tue 27-Sep-16 22:30:58

Hi there, I feel your pain (literally).

I've had migraines and tension headaches for as long as I can remember. I had got to a point prior to becoming pregnant where they had vanished (I'll come back to that).

Since about 16 weeks (now 28 weeks) they are back with vengence.

I'd always managed them with occasional paracetamol and occasional sumatriptan until I went through a phase this time last year where I was getting daily tension headaches and weekly migraines. They made my life so miserable!

I went to my GP (hoping to get a Neurology referral to establish what was causing them) and was initially offered Beta Blockers which I declined. I was then offered Amitryptaline and assured if they didn't work I would get my Neurology referral.

I didn't take the Amytriptaline but accepted the prescription with no intention of collecting it, on the grounds of getting my Neurology referral. I'm an endurance athlete (competitive cyclist) and knew that any drugs would affect my ability to train and race (impacting stuff like my V02 max). Besides, apart from the tension headaches and migraines I'm incredibly fit and healthy and really look after myself. It's my belief that taking any drugs (which wouldn't even cure what I was taking them for just mask the symptoms) in my circumstances are bad and will lead to health complications/ problems in later life. I also suspected the side effects would be worse than the migraines.

I went back to my GP and lied, telling her the Amytryptaline had caused unbearable side effects. Unfortunately she still didn't refer me to Neurology but gave me a prescription for an Anti Convulsant (given to those with Epilepsy). Needless to say I didn't take that either!!

Around this time I saw a private Dr through work. Unlike my GP, she totally accepted my reasoning for not wanting to take medication and suggested Acupuncture or Osteopathy. She understood I wanted to get to the bottom of the cause of them so I could tackle that, rather than just taking long term strong medication which would just deal with the symptoms and not change anything.

The Accupuncture didn't work but the Osteopathy did. I saw the Osteopath out of desperation, not thinking it'd work but to rule it out. I can honestly say it had transformed my life.

I learnt my tension headaches and migraines stem from knotted up tight muscles in my upper back and shoulders and over my skull. They come from years of office work, sleeping on my stomach (now sleep on back) road cycling and spending down time slouched on the sofa or scrunched up over my tablet/ phone. The first few treatments were horrific as I reacted badly (they triggered migraines). I persevered as I got noticeable relief 48 hours later. I stuck to a regime of exercises prescribed by my Osteo (simple stretches I do at my desk and lots of foam rollering). After about four treatments my tension headaches and migraines vanished. I just saw my Osteo once every 6 weeks for maintenance. I stuck with the stretches and foam rollering and also had a new chair at work which helped me to sit better rather than slouch.

Since about 16 weeks pregnant I feel I'm back to square one! I'm going fortnightly (would go weekly but can't afford it). Basically the weight of the baby is pulling my lower spine forward which is having a knock on postural impact further up. The last few weeks have been slightly better but it's because I'm foam rollering my neck at least four times a day and ensure I get up every 20 minutes to move about. I'm also using trigger point massage balls at work which I press into the tight muscles whilst sat at my desk working.

I eventually got my Neurology referral. It came through after I'd found the cause of my problems and the cure. The Neurologist solution was more drugs and failing that Botox. Why the hell would I want something developed as a chemical weapon injecting into my head FFS?! I explained about the Osteopathy and asked if this could be accessed via the NHS. No was the answer! Utterly rediculous as it is a drug free cure which actually treats the cause of my problems... so surely in the long run it'd save money therefore the best option all round.

If you haven't tried it I really recommend seeing an Osteopath. I found mine through recommendation from friends. They have to be registered to practice. There's stuff on the NHS website here

noodlmcdoodl Tue 27-Sep-16 22:52:24

PS I also find pregnancy yoga beneficial. I have a Tara Lee DVD which I follow 5 or 6 times a week (I don't have time for classes). I find the relaxation/ deep breathing helpful as well as the poses that help with improving posture. It is something that has to be done very regularly to get any benefit from though. I find if I wake up with a bad head the yoga helps. I also find using the breathing/ relaxation techniques helps if I can feel the beginnings of a tension headache coming on.

I also find '4 Head' good at soothing, it doesn't cure but certainly eases the pain. You can buy it in a chemist. It's a peppermint waxy stuff you put on wherever you feel the pain. Totally drug free.

jobrum Wed 28-Sep-16 23:26:31

Thank you, that's really helpful. I had heard about oseopathy but was very skeptical. Not sure why as I went for acupuncture which I am convinced makes a difference, especially when not pregnant. I have no reason not to take drugs if you see what I mean so was very hopeful that the betablockers would help me get through the next four months or so of pregnancy until the point where they stopped last time. I'm no where near as fit as you but I am pretty healthy and active and pregnancy doesn't stop me doing anything, just these migraines. I might have a look at the timetable for a pregnancy yoga class near me, should be a nice relaxing hour if nothing else and its next to a lovely tea shop!

Interesting to hear your experience of the neurology clinic; I'm not sure what to expect but I feel a bit better knowing I'm at least doing something. Its amazing how quickly I fall behind at work after an unexpected day off and the day after a migraine I'm just useless!

It's so hard to find other people's experiences but the percentage of women who's migraines continue into pregnancy is tiny. We're a special few!

booboo11 Thu 29-Sep-16 12:39:58

I also recommend Yoga

LJH79 Mon 31-Oct-16 13:54:37

I have had awful migraines my whole life and survived two pregnancies with both migraine and hyperemesis. That's the reason I have a 5 yr age gap as never thought I could do it again. I still don't know to this day how I survived! I was signed off for months both times. I did use triptans occasionally but tried not to. Used ice packs, bio freeze on back of head, codeine sometimes. I have tried all alternative therapies and nothing has helped. I am actually worse now post pregnancy and it's a nightmare. Not sure what advise I can offer but you have my every sympathy as I am suffering currently after being sick 5 hours last night from bad attach and still have migraine now X

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