My Very Different Pregnancies Without and With Migraine
Last updated: September 2023
I got pregnant in 2013 and, until that time, could usually expect two to three full-blown migraines with aura a year. It was manageable but highly inconvenient as I never quite knew when they were going to strike.
My first pregnancy
With the surge in estrogen and blood flow during pregnancy, my migraines completely went away. It was such a relief to have one less thing to worry about while my body was giving me all kinds of other experiences: heartburn, restless legs, body pain, and, eventually, a giant, adorable baby who had to be surgically removed.
I was migraine-free post-partum
Post-partum, I breastfed and took the "minipill," a progestin-only birth control. I continued to live migraine-free. I began to think I had outgrown the migraines and stopped carrying around emergency medications.
My second pregnancy
When I got pregnant with my son in 2015, my life got a whole lot more stressful. Not only was I dealing with a very active toddler and a very queasy first trimester, but I had some life stresses that I wasn't expecting. Still, no migraines...until the third trimester.
Aura settled in
I was in Trader Joe's with my daughter when I started to feel disoriented. I was having trouble focusing on my checkout and felt like I might be getting faint. I'd actually nearly fainted in that same Trader Joe's while pregnant with my daughter, so I also thought I might be having some very light PTSD. I got out of there fast, buckled in my daughter, and headed home.
I was desperate to get home
I live close to Trader Joe's, but I was fairly certain I was getting an aura as I drove. I considered pulling over and calling my husband but knew he was unlikely to answer during the day or be able to get me. I considered my friends and mother-in-law, all of whom may or may not pick up. I decided to make it home.
I tried to sleep it off
I could hardly see as I unloaded the groceries and the toddler. I refrigerated the perishables and put my daughter in her room for a nap, sans book, and lullaby. She cried and wailed and pounded on the door as I retreated to my bedroom. I checked on her to the best of my visual ability on the baby monitor and saw her give up the fight, lie down, and fall asleep. I followed suit.
When I woke up, the aura was gone, and I had no headache. I felt exhausted and nervous that the storm had not passed, but it had. I didn't get a full migraine.
Was this normal?
I brought it up to my OB, and he seemed unconcerned. He told me that sometimes happens with pregnant women, and it would likely go away after I delivered. "What if I'm driving?" I asked, to which he told me to pull over and call 911. I didn't love that plan and hoped I wouldn't end up in the ER.
Did it continue post-partum?
The fates were on my side, and I didn't get another aura until after I had my son. I did, unfortunately, start getting surprise migraines again and have rescue medication on me at all times now. The brief respite was nice, and I'm prepared for whatever comes next.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?