Laboring Through Migraine
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Profile photo of Holly Baddour

I binge-watch TV, because it is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to distract myself from the pain associated with migraine. It provides a way to pass the long hours and gives me something to focus on, other than the pounding, squeezing, heat and excruciating discomfort. Many times I can’t actually watch the TV. I just have it running in the background and use it almost like a radio, with the light turned all the way down. Listening to the ongoing drama of someone else’s life serves to lift me out being trapped in the reality of my own ongoing saga.

Focal point

Many migraineurs seek ways to turn the channel in their brain away from the pain of an attack. Medication or other therapeutic approaches may be employed. Some use meditation, deep breathing exercises, music, or podcasts. It reminds me a bit of going through labor. Many birthing coaches encourage women to find a focal point in the room in which they are laboring. They may even bring something special from home to look at if they are laboring in the hospital. Whatever the case, the focal point serves as just that; something to focus upon while centering in on breathing exercises in order to move through the pain of each contraction. These tried and true strategies have been created to help women through the pain, find useful ways to pass the time until they are on the other side one of the most physically demanding experiences of their lives.

There are certain places in my bathroom that have become focal points for me at my lowest times. Places that I look toward and focus upon, trying to catch my breath and talk my way (literally) down from the pain in between heaving and vomiting, while also juggling extreme migraine pain. I tell myself I’ll be okay and that it will eventually pass.

Giving birth vs. a migraine attack

I’ve heard many migraineurs who’ve given birth say that the pain of migraine is either equal to or worse than the pain of childbirth. Indeed, there are times that the two last about the same amount of time. Many migraineurs labor through pain anywhere between 4 hours to two or more days. I’ve given birth twice and my opinion is that it’s impossible to choose which is more painful. The two experiences can be equal or worse than one another on the pain scale but are of course totally different in terms of sensation. One big difference is that you have nothing to show at the end of a migraine.  No bundle of joy, but thankfully, if coming off a major migraine attack, no noise-producing bundle either.

Preparing…

Whether preparing to give birth, or battle with a migraine, the question for each of us is how to best prepare ourselves. Just as expecting parents make elaborate birthing plans, migraineurs can benefit from thinking in advance about how to handle various bumps in the road. Who to call if an emergency room visit becomes necessary? Who will pick up the kids? What are the top five strategies that work for you to gain comfort or emotional support during the pain? Is there anything you can do in advance to be prepared before you are in pain? Who will you reach out to afterward or what activities will you resume to help restore your emotional balance? Taking time to make your own plan and/or perhaps simply having it in place will likely bring you some peace of mind.

What are some of your key strategies that help you get through severe migraine pain? Please share what works for you below so that others might learn from you.

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