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Understanding Postpartum Headache Symptoms. Other symptoms can accompany a head pain. Causes. There are different types of headaches with different causes and triggers.

2  Most of the time, postpartum head Migraines. A migraine is a type of headache. Sometimes it’s not that easy to tell. Postpartum headache refers to the appearance or increase in headaches in women who have just had a baby, typically within the first six weeks after they deliver. Migraine in women is closely linked to hormonal changes; many women with migraine experience headache just prior to menstruation, when their estrogen levels fall, and postpartum headache.

Postpartum headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches, which include tension headaches and migraines secondary headaches, which are caused by an underlying condition. Causes of a Postpartum Headache Your body goes through a lot of hormonal changes after giving birth, which can trigger headaches. Hormone changes happen too quickly for the body, so the sudden shift can bring about a headache. If you experience headaches while breastfeeding, it is also due to hormonal fluctuations.

Research from Headache finds new data on women seeking treatment for acute postpartum headache. Nearly half of all women experience headache within the first month of giving birth due to unique hormonal and biological changes that take place during and after pregnancy. Postpartum headaches usually fall into two categories: tension and migraine.

Tension headaches cause moderate discomfort, and they often feel like a rubber band around your head. Postpartum headache is described as a complaint of headache and neck or shoulder pain in the first 6 weeks after delivery. 1 It is one of the most common symptoms with up to 39% of parturients experiencing headache in the first postpartum week. 2.

A postpartum headache can happen because childbirth is a strain of the female body. At the end of the delivery, your body finally relaxes which leads to the pain. When the brain vessels return to normal the migraine will stop bothering you pretty quickly. In this case, medication is not required.

Studies have shown that up to 39 percent of people experience headaches in the first week after childbirth. Commonly called postpartum headaches or postnatal headaches, sometimes these headaches. After the emotional and physical exhaustion of delivering a baby, the last thing you need is a headache. But a headache in the postpartum period is a common complaint.

Hormonal changes, dehydration, anesthesia, and sleep irregularity can all contribute to headache after delivery of your precious newborn.

List of related literature:

The most common postpartum headaches are tension-type and migraine headaches, which account for almost two-thirds of headaches during this period.1,2,6 Tension-type headaches are often circumferential and constricting, can be associated with scalp tenderness, and are usually of mild to moderate severity.

“Chestnut's Obstetric Anesthesia E-Book” by David H. Chestnut, Cynthia A Wong, Lawrence C Tsen, Warwick D Ngan Kee, Yaakov Beilin, Jill Mhyre, Brian T. Bateman, Naveen Nathan
from Chestnut’s Obstetric Anesthesia E-Book
by David H. Chestnut, Cynthia A Wong, et. al.
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2019

Most postpartum headaches are probably tension-type or ‘simple’ headaches, but the studies that have examined headache among postnatal women have not generally specified headache type.

“Mayes' Midwifery E-Book: A Textbook for Midwives” by Sue Macdonald
from Mayes’ Midwifery E-Book: A Textbook for Midwives
by Sue Macdonald
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2011

Postpartum headache has been defined as any headache occurring during the first 6 weeks after delivery.

“Complications in Anesthesia E-Book” by Lee A Fleisher, Stanley H. Rosenbaum
from Complications in Anesthesia E-Book
by Lee A Fleisher, Stanley H. Rosenbaum
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2017

Unfortunately, headaches in the postpartum also can be due to more concerning neurological issues such as stroke or seizures given the increase in the obstetrical risks of pre-eclampsia and eclampsia and a hypercoaguable state in the postpartum period.

“Women and Health” by Marlene B. Goldman, Rebecca Troisi, Kathryn M. Rexrode
from Women and Health
by Marlene B. Goldman, Rebecca Troisi, Kathryn M. Rexrode
Elsevier Science, 2012

Migraine headaches are not more frequent with lactation, but headaches that occur immediately postpartum can be severe.

“Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession” by Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Robert M. Lawrence, MD
from Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Profession
by Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Robert M. Lawrence, MD
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2015

In the postpartum period the most common headache is migraine.

“Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology” by T. Murphy Goodwin, Martin N. Montoro, Laila Muderspach, Richard Paulson, Subir Roy
from Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology
by T. Murphy Goodwin, Martin N. Montoro, et. al.
Wiley, 2010

Headache is a common complaint in the postpartum period.

“Avoiding Common Errors in the Emergency Department” by Amal Mattu, Arjun S. Chanmugam, Stuart P. Swadron, Carrie Tibbles, Dale Woolridge, Lisa Marcucci
from Avoiding Common Errors in the Emergency Department
by Amal Mattu, Arjun S. Chanmugam, et. al.
Wolters Kluwer Health, 2012

Postpartum depression may intensify postpartum headaches, which usually represent a recurrence of migraine.

“Kaufman's Clinical Neurology for Psychiatrists E-Book” by David Myland Kaufman, Mark J Milstein
from Kaufman’s Clinical Neurology for Psychiatrists E-Book
by David Myland Kaufman, Mark J Milstein
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2012

Postpartum migraine occurs most often 3–6 days after delivery.

“Neurology in Clinical Practice: The neurological disorders” by Walter George Bradley
from Neurology in Clinical Practice: The neurological disorders
by Walter George Bradley
Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004

Headache This is a common ailment in the general population; concern in relation to postpartum morbidity should therefore centre around the history of the severity, duration and frequency of the headaches, the medication being taken to alleviate them and how effective this is.

“Myles' Textbook for Midwives E-Book” by Jayne E. Marshall, Maureen D. Raynor
from Myles’ Textbook for Midwives E-Book
by Jayne E. Marshall, Maureen D. Raynor
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2020

Oktay Kutluk

Kutluk Oktay, MD, FACOG is one of the world's foremost experts in fertility preservation as well as ovarian stimulation and in vitro fertilization for infertility treatments. He developed and performed the world's first ovarian transplantation procedures as well as pioneered new ovarian stimulation protocols for embryo and oocyte freezing for breast and endometrial cancer patients.

Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: +1 (877) 492-3666

Biography: https://medicine.yale.edu/profile/kutluk_oktay/
Bibliography: oktay_bibliography

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16 comments

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  • I had ppd so bad after my last child, I went to the er because I had thoughts of hurting my self and my oldest son. The hospital I went to were so completely useless. I had admitted myself to the psych ward and that first doctor told me I was just a tired new mom and had needed sleep and sent me home. The second time I admitted myself to another hospital because I was have thoughts of hurting myself. They treated me like I had a drug problem and pushed lithium on me. I ended up signing myself out because the lithium made me worse and made me super paranoid. It was terrible how I was treated and I hope no one is ever treated this way. I hope one day we can get better treatments for ppd for new moms.

  • I had some wacky stuff happen postpartum. I developed a high fever on day 9 that ended in a trip to the ER and finally a mastitis diagnosis. I had such bad constipation I ended up tearing my stitches and it took months for my tear to fully heal. I developed scar tissue at the site of the tear that was extremely painful (the pain was getting worse instead of better) that they had to burn off with silver nitrate. What a wild ride! You forget all the crazy stuff lol

  • I have a very sad story to tell about my csection incision about 10 days after I got home from the hospital after my csection I was having a lot of incision pain it was looking funny to me I ended up going back to the hospital and being checked in all the doctors are saying it looks fine I don’t have a temperature but they keep me there for almost a week I’m not feeling any better in fact I felt worse than when I was admitted so agenst doctor’s recommendations I checked myself out and went to my primary doctor and she was the first doctor in almost a week to physically touch my skin around my incision she felt how hot it was and all this puss and gunk came she took it for testing and it turned out to be a grade 2 staph infection she said to go back to the hospital and I told her I just came from there straight to her so instead of the IV antibiotics I need she put me on an oral medication for a month

  • My postpartum experience and depression were SO bad. The prenatal and labor care in the hospital was terrific But the moment I was moved to postpartum care it’s like I wasn’t even a person anymore. They refused me any formula for my son til about a day after he was born (despite the fact I could not get the little guy to latch on so he went without that whole time AND they wouldn’t get me anybody to help). Then when they finally gave him formula, he made these weird chirping sounds as he drank and I thought he was choking and not breathing. I called my nurse, I called the front desk, I called everybody I could and I was told “we’ll be right there”, I had a total mental breakdown for two hours thinking my infant was going to die in my room and nobody even came to check until shift change..
    then outside of the hospital after we were released, I could not bond with him. I went weeks without real sleep because every time I heard him move my heart would fill with dread. I remember hallucinating bugs crawling all over him, the walls and bottle.. I remember a part inside of me that urged me to bite or squeeze him every time I held him. I remember crying and rocking the both of us all night for several nights, constantly telling myself, “don’t bite the baby”
    It was a nightmare.. I told my doctors, at that time I was still working with my OB, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.. I wasn’t able to acquire a bond with my son til he turned 2. Now he’s three and we’re all doing great but I’m terrified to have another baby because I hate the person I was during the first two years of my sons life.

  • When I had my first baby no one told me what it would be like when my milk came in. I remember after coming home from the hospital I wanted a nice hot bath. I got in the tub closed my eyes and laid back. My husband came in and said what are you doing. I looked down and a fountain of milk is spraying from my chest. I was sitting in milky water. I said I don’t know ��This YouTube channel would of been so helpful then. ��

  • Here’s my story:
    I worked up until June 13th. Then my water broke 1:30am on the 14th. Boyfriend’s mom rushed us to the hospital where they confirmed my water broke then proceeded to put me in a delivery room. I wasn’t contracting fast enough so they gave me petocin. Once the rest of my water broke it was already early afternoon of the 14th, then the unbearable contractions started and I was allowed an epidural. Evening came and I was only 6cm dilated. I was feeling numb, shaky, and nauseous. Drinking water was hard, as a result I was dehydrated. around midnight I was 8cm. The next morning I was checked by my doctor at 6 something in the morning. I was 9 and a half centimeters dilated but my baby’s head wasn’t all the way down. Had to get a c-section at 7am. My beautiful daughter was born at 7:40am. I was fine for a few days emotionally despite already losing sleep. I used to open a lot during the pregnancy so lost sleep wasn’t a big deal to me. The depression kicked in when I began to have trouble nursing her. She has nipple confusion so I ended up crying a lot and blamed myself. Nursing her was the one thing that made me feel useful to her since I’m unable to do much right now. So I pump to feed her, but it hurts me knowing she won’t eat directly off me because of the early introduction of the binky. I know I shouldn’t beat myself up over it, but just typing this out now the tears r coming and I’m shaking so much. I sincerely can’t wait until I can do more so I can do more for her

  • Hi Mama Doctor Jones, you should react to the movie Tully, about a woman with postpartum psychosis. It’s really interesting and I’d like to hear a medical perspective on the movie’s accuracy.

  • the exact causes of portpartum is unknown. because women wont talk straight to the point. lol.

    when you feel you are starting to get sad, figure out why. do you miss friends? miss the freedom? want to try something. instead of sulking, and subtly asking for TLC.

  • I had post partum preeclampsia and a post partum kidney infection. I want another baby so bad but am scared to get that again and I know since I’ve had it I’m at higher risk ABD I’m type 1 diabetic so a little more risk! Can you do a video about preeclampsia???

  • I had my baby 4 days ago and the next night they took him for a bath and weight check. It took about an hour and before they brought him back I was crying because ei was scared they had really stolen my baby and weren’t coming back. I never in my head that was crazy and irrational. I still couldn’t stop it from making me cry and worry.

  • Does pre-existing anxiety/depression increase your chances of developing postpartum depression, or increase the likelihood that it will be more severe?

  • Im going to see a psychiatrist tomorrow.

    I just gave birth to my son last month and my dad passed away the same day.. I also have graves disease which causes me to have hyperthyroidism that causes more anxiety. I know i feel lucky I have a healthy beautiful baby boy. But I just cant stop thinking about my dad. I also feel like I’m not a good wife to my husband. I also feel like my mom-in-law is trying to take control of my life. She helps but it feels like she is overstepping. I say this because she would push me whenever I change my son’s diaper because SHE WOULD DO IT. I would have to beg to be able to hold my son. She would not let me bathe my son. All the pressure they have put me through. I do not understand. I want to just scream and grieve. Im tired. I could not even grieve because they wont allow me. They scoff everytime they see me crying over my dad. 2 days after my dad’s burial they were forcing me, my husband and my baby to stay in their house. I WAS SOOOOOOO DEVASTATED WHEN THEY SAID MY PARENTS DONT HAVE RIGHTS TO ME ANYMORE. OMG. I canr even talk to my husband about this because he respects them very much and I dont want him to hate on me for feeling disrespected. I also fear that if they know I have depression they would get my son away from me..

  • Hi Mama Doctor Jones, I have a question. I don’t plan on having children and one of the main reasons is my depression. I struggle with it very badly in general and I worry about how pregnancy would affect that aspect of my life. And I also worry about post-partum depression. If I struggle with depression anyway, am I more likely to suffer from post-partum depression, and will pregnancy make me more depressed than I already am?

  • The morning after I came home from the hospital my left leg blew up like a balloon. Thought it was a blood clot so i went to the ER. Blood pressure was 180/108 at rest. Then I got to learn the Joy’s of postpartum preeclampsia

  • The rush of oxytocin I got when I nursed was seriously like a drug. My life was difficult in the last months of my pregnancy with my youngest and the first year of his life, so when I got to just sit and nurse, the hormones helped me incredibly.

  • I’m here because I just saw a news about mother suffering from this.. she killed her 4 Childrens using Machete then stabbed her self.. ��