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Moms with Migraine: 7 Helpful Tips for Managing & Preventing Migraine Attacks

Under: Migraine & Headache, Women's Health

Being a mom with migraine isn’t for the faint of heart. Parenting is tough – but parenting with chronic migraine takes it to a whole new level.

Moms with migraine may worry about how their chronic migraine affects their family or feel a major case of mom guilt when an attack strikes. Plus, there’s that looming dread of wondering when the next migraine will hit. And when it does, the pain and other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound can make you want to hide in a dark room and wait for it to pass. But when you’re a mom, that’s just not possible. Yet, you can be proactive and practice healthy lifestyle habits to lessen migraine attacks and plan ahead for when they do strike. This article unravels why moms are more prone to migraine and offers helpful tips to prevent future attacks.

Motherhood and Migraine: What’s the Connection?

According to a US survey, 17.1% of women and 5.6% of men suffer from chronic migraine. That means women are three times more likely to experience migraine than men! But why? Well, scientists think your hormones may be to blame. During childhood, migraine occurs equally among boys and girls. That is, until puberty hits. Once girls begin menstruating, their incidence of migraine skyrockets. Scientists believe this is likely due to changes in estrogen. Studies show that when estrogen dips, it can trigger migraine attacks.

Women experience hormone fluctuations often, with the most dramatic changes happening before, during or after:

  • menstruation
  • ovulation
  • pregnancy
  • giving birth
  • perimenopause
  • menopause

Many moms get a reprieve from migraine during pregnancy, only to be hit hard after giving birth. Having a baby elicits an enormous drop in estrogen, which can easily trigger postpartum migraine.

Migraine During the Pandemic

The pandemic has only exacerbated migraine pain, especially for moms. According to data from Migraine Buddy, a smartphone application used to track migraine symptoms, during the pandemic:

  • 57.5% of respondents reported more migraine days
  • 26% reported a significant increase in migraine days
  • 41.8% of respondents said the severity of symptoms increased

Since stress is the most common migraine trigger, this isn’t all that surprising. We all dealt with massive stress during the pandemic, between health worries, financial concerns, and social isolation. But moms felt the brunt of pandemic stress especially hard with the added responsibilities of virtual learning.

That means it’s even more important that moms practice healthy habits to prevent migraine attacks. Granted, that’s easier said than done as moms have trouble focusing on themselves and always want to put their kids first – which is amazing. But migraine attacks can make it difficult for you to show up for your loved ones. By investing time and energy in taking better care of yourself, you’ll be better able to take care of your kids.

7 Helpful Tips for Moms Managing Chronic Migraine

1 – Know Your Triggers & Avoid Them When Possible

There are a lot of potential triggers for migraine attacks, including:

  • Stress is the most common migraine trigger. Consider stress-coping strategies that work.
  • Menstrual cycle: especially right before your period or during ovulation.
  • Weather: changes in barometric pressure are known to trigger migraine.
  • Blood sugar imbalances can spark a migraine attack. So don’t skip meals.
  • Trigger foods: They’re different for everyone, but some common offenders include aged cheeses and meats, MSG, and aspartame.
  • Strong scents such as perfume, cigarette smoke, and vehicle exhaust can aggravate migraine.
  • Alcohol can trigger migraines. So don’t overdo it.
  • Dehydration can set a migraine off. Drinking plenty of water is crucial.

Every person’s experience of migraine is different. Knowing your unique triggers can help you avoid them or plan ahead for when potential triggers may strike.

So keep track of your triggers and see if you notice any patterns. You may want to record them as they occur in a migraine diary (download here). This will clue you in on what to be mindful of or avoid altogether.

2 – Preparation is Key
As said before, skipping meals can trigger a migraine attack. So no matter how busy you get, don’t skip them! Also, when you’re out and about, always have snacks handy for your kids and YOU. Dehydration can stir the migraine beast as well, so carry a water bottle wherever you go. Aim for at least half your body weight in ounces every day. And since you never know when a migraine might hit, plan ahead. Do some meal prep or make freezer meals on your migraine-free days, so you have less to do when those bad days pop up.

3 – Talk With Your Kids
Explain to your kids how a migraine attack feels in language they can understand. You might tell them that a migraine feels like ‘brain freeze,’ but instead of lasting a few seconds, it lasts for hours or even days. Tying it in with an experience they’re familiar with can help them understand migraine better. That way, they’ll realize why you need the lights dimmed and quiet time when an attack strikes.

Talk with your kids about migraine

Talk with your kids about migraine

Another huge reason to talk to your children is that they may experience migraine themselves one day. Children with one parent who struggles with migraine have a 50% chance of having them. If both parents deal with migraine, the risk increases to 75%. Educating them now may help them recognize signs in the future.

4 – Get Support
Tell your friends and family about your chronic migraine and how it affects you. Give them a heads up that there may be days you need some help. That might look like having your kiddos join a carpool to school or having an impromptu playdate if the pain gets bad. You may even want to talk with teachers, so they’re aware of your migraine struggles. Also, there are several delivery services for groceries and meals that can be a lifesaver during an attack. So don’t be afraid to use them!

5 – Plan ‘Quiet Day’ Activities
When you chat with your kids, give them a heads up that migraine days are ‘Quiet Days.’ Have plenty of puzzles, Legos, crafts, coloring books, and Playdoh ready for those times when you need some rest and recovery. ‘Quiet Days’ can even be an opportunity to bond! You can snuggle up and read books together in bed or pop some popcorn, dim the lights, and have a movie marathon. However, if the pain is terrible and you need some peace and quiet, that’s okay. In those cases, screentime can be a savior to give your body the rest it needs.

6 – Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
Many things that prevent migraine attacks are easy to let slide, especially for busy moms! But making time for healthy habits will allow you to be fully present with your children more often.

Here are some lifestyle habits that can lessen migraine attacks:

  • Get quality sleep: Having a consistent sleep schedule is important for your kids AND you! Research shows that poor sleep quality can trigger migraine attacks. Yet, it also shows that preventative migraine treatments improve sleep.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise boosts your mood, improves sleep, and eases stress. It also releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. So make time for regular exercise whenever you can! Try getting the kids involved and go on a walk or bike ride together. Or squeeze in a quick workout video while they’re enjoying screen time.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Processed foods contain harmful preservatives and flavorings such as nitrates and MSG, known migraine triggers. Opt for wholesome, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  • Manage your stress: Practice regular stress relief to keep migraine at bay. You can try journaling, breathwork, yoga, or meditation. If you’re not sure where to start, there are several helpful apps like Headspace and Calm that can help guide the way. You may also want to consider a natural combination supplement formulated to reduce the physical and psychological impacts of stress. There are also various techniques used to relax the body, including deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation (a technique of tensing and relaxing various muscles in a specific order).

Many of the habits above are healthy for your children too! So by taking good care of yourself, you’ll be setting them up for their own self-care success in the future.

7 – Build a Migraine Toolkit
It would be nice to say if you religiously practice the six tips above, you’ll never have another migraine attack. But we both know that’s a longshot. Yes, you can do a great deal to help prevent a migraine attack. But it also helps to be prepared for when they do strike. Having a migraine toolkit can be a godsend during those tough times.

Here are some things to consider adding to your own migraine toolkit:

  • Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to keep the noise level down
  • Sleep mask for those light-sensitive moments
  • Ginger chews in case nausea hits
  • Ice packs to dull the sensation of pain
  • Heating pad to relax tense muscles
    MigreLief-Now for fast-acting nutritional support and neurological comfort. It contains a combo of magnesium, ginger, and Boswellia to provide neurological and whole-body comfort when you need it most.
Be prepared - build a migraine toolkit

Be prepared – build a migraine toolkit


Motherhood is challenging on its own. Adding migraine into the mix can make it even more difficult to keep up with everyday responsibilities. While migraine attacks can strike at any time, you hold more power than you think. Prevention is key when it comes to managing migraine, especially for moms with migraine. Prioritizing healthy habits like quality sleep, exercise, nutritious food, and stress relief can be tricky as a mom. You may even feel selfish investing time and energy into yourself. However, the more you care for yourself, the better you’ll be able to care for your family. And the less likely those migraine attacks will happen.

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