My Very Different Pregnancies Without and With Migraine
Last updated: May 2022
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.
Do you have a migraine toolbox for when an attack hits?
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