Okay, I kiiiinda feel like I was sold a bill of goods with this second-trimester thing. “It’s the best!” “The honeymoon period of your pregnancy!” “You won’t even know you’re pregnant!” (1) No, (2) LOL, (3) Yeah, and those days terrify me. My second trimester has been a rollercoaster of back pain, surprise acne, more morning sickness and constipation (sorrynotsorry), oh yeah, and persistent throbbing headaches. Yay? The good news is: I now have the answers for solving and resolving the most difficult of these — the dreaded second-trimester headache. I’ve tried everything and collected the Best Of below.
Some of these probably seem a little obvious, but some will not! In fact, I stopped looking up “headache remedies” and just started trying everything and logged what made my head ache less. So enjoy a few interesting new tactics in my list of second trimester headache remedies!
(And, while this should go without saying: I am not a doctor. Don’t do anything your doctor doesn’t totally bless, and if in doubt, always do nothing (except talk to your doctor — always do that instead. And probably cut back on reading the internet instead of talking to your doctor. It’s a bad idea. Okay now carry on!))
1. Cool cloth on forehead
I warned you that some of these would be obvious. Putting a cold, damp washcloth on my head makes me feel (a) like an overly dramatic Southern belle, and (b) soooo much better immediately, both of which are great as far as I’m concerned. If I can wait long enough, it’s even better to get a small towel damp, then FREEZE IT for like 10 minutes, and then put it on your head whilst in a reclined position. It really does help almost instantly.
You can also try this with the cloth on the back of your neck. This is amazing both for your headache as well as for the f’ing hot months if you happen to be pregnant in Texas between the months of February and November (haha you think I’m joking.) This pose might require you to lie on your stomach, so it’s less ideal if you have started to get that bump of course, but for the late-bumpers it’s really a dream. Give it a chance!
2. Warm milk
Not just for bedtime anymore! That’s right, a glass of milk popped in the microwave (yes, microwave, not stove top. What am I, the Queen??) for a few seconds really does to WONDERS not just to make you sleepy, but to totally smooth out that throbbing in your noggin. When I started waking up with headaches, even in the middle of summer, I’d zap a little milk with a cinnamon stick in the mug and sip that down with breakfast. IT. ALWAYS. HELPED. I don’t know what the magic is, but the rest of the internets seems to agree with me that this is a solid pick.
And on top of that, it gets you more calcium and dairy goodness in your day! What’s not to love? I also recommend taking this in whatever flavor direction you want it to go: chai milk tea? Do it. Super-milky-latte? Yas! I also got used to dropping in a little English Toffee liquid stevia when I was craving a little sweetness and lemme tell ya, folks: it is not half bad. Maybe try it out yourself!
3. Eat more protein!
Surprise! You should be slamming those steaks right about now, missy! (Well done, of course.) Now, I can’t take any credit for this either, except for the fact that I was trying desperately hard to avoid Googling “pregnancy headaches” and ended up just searching “why does my brain hurt all the time.” Managing to also avoid all the Web MD articles about brain cancer, I found several recommendations around upping your protein intake to help manage headaches.
I haven’t been super hungry in my second trimester, and protein is really filling, so I tackled this from a bunch of weird angles. I made yogurt my go-to snack, that or cold chicken (cooked in the pressure cooker and shredded, then topped with buffalo sauce and greek yogurt because #PREGNANT), or straight up nut butter on a spoon. We bought protein-enriched everything — bread, buttery spread, Cheerios — and I noticed an almost immediate improvement in how I felt.
Gone quickly were the morning when I woke up with my head aching! Gone were the 2 PM cripping, pouding skull! Full was my tummy with all the good proteiny goodness! Long story short: get the protein. Put it in your body. You can do this without eating meat, but meat sure is great. 🙂
4. Hips on blocks (“yoga”)
Okay, this one is only an option to you before about 20 weeks, depending on how big you get and how soon. However, it works GANGBUSTERS and not just for your headache!
Months before I got pregnant, I started taking this great ‘Upside Down Workout’ class at my local ballet studio. You basically spend an hour with your hips on a yoga block, starting with the lowest height and gradually working up to the highest height, flexing and toning your legs and increasing flexibility while letting blood flow “in reverse” back toward your heart.
I know this may sound a little crunchy/granola/hippy-dippy, but it helped me in a big way with stress relief and a general sense of “chill” in my pre-pregnancy months, so much so that I bought a cheap set of foam yoga blocks from Amazon (for like $10) so I could start putting my hips on blocks while watching TV or reading at home.
Let me tell you: I am so glad I did. Because now that I’m pregnant, that class has been canceled but I can still reap the MEGA BENEFITS of having the blood flow toward my heart, getting the bliss hormones going, and just generally peacing out when these bad headaches hit. It’s almost a miracle.
Just lie on your back (again, when you can) and put the block under your sacrum (the bony part of your low-butt). You’ll know it’s in the right place because it won’t hurt, and you’ll feel stable. Then just pop those legs in the air (sometimes it’s good to do this against a wall or a piece of furniture — couches and beds work great — to prop your legs against) and let the magic of gravity + your body do its thang. Give it 10 – 20 minutes and you’ll see how floaty-floaty you feel, and your headache will melt away.
5. Magnesium supplements
Natural Vitality Calm magnesium supplement is one of my favorite things in the world. When I used to work as a nanny, the kids would get Calm every night before bed, mixed into their yogurt. It froths up and basically turns the yogurt into foam (awesome) and makes plain, unsweetened yogurt really tasty. And then it would knock them out because magnesium is a magical gift that none of us get enough of.
The TL;DR on magnesium is that most people don’t get enough of it and it works hand-in-hand with calcium, which most people get plenty of. Calcium effectively tenses up your muscles or flexes them, and magnesium is the juice that helps them retract/expand/stretch back out. Magnesium also has a wonderful natural ability to um, speed things up down there and keep you regular. (Double win for preggos.)
My doctor recommended no more than 350 mg of magnesium (in supplement form) per day, and my pre-natal has no magnesium in it, so I just take the recommended dose of 2 teaspoons of Calm mixed into some cool water most nights before bed. Once I started doing this regularly, the chance of me waking up with a headache basically dropped to zero, and the odds of them sprouting up in the middle of the day really decreased as well. Magic, I tell ya!
So there you have it! Five tried-and-true second trimester headache remedies, some a little more obvious than others, all worth giving a go (if your doctor gives you the green light, of course.) Now get back to humble bragging about how amazing your pregnancy has been and wait for people to compliment your glow. 😉