Migraines After a C Section

migraines after having a c section

I was prepared for many things when I was having my second C section. I was ready for the cold room and getting a spinal block. I was ready for taking care of my incision and breast feeding. My surgery was very close to the first except for the fact that about halfway through the procedure I started getting a terrible headache. Not just a head ache, an intense sharp pain behind my eyes that was so strong I began vomiting from the intensity. After my daughter was born and I got to see her my anesthesiologist gave me some medicine to help me sleep in the hope that when I woke up in recovery my headache would be gone. It was, but I had a deep throbbing in my head for the next three days that only Percocet seemed to touch. When I finally got to go home I felt like I left the migraines at the hospital. We got into a rhythm taking care of our daughter and I stopped taking the Percocet on the fifth day after my surgery so it wouldn’t affect my breast milk.
About two weeks after my surgery I woke up from a deep sleep with a terrible migraine. It was so painful I couldn’t even sit up, I gripped my husband’s arm and whimpered for about an hour while it coursed through me. These headaches were worse than my incision and recovery from major abdominal surgery. Thankfully they disappeared before my daughter was a month old and I was so confused on what had been happening. After talking with my obstetrician at my follow up appointment I learned that migraines are very common after cesarean deliveries.
In the US doctors deliver about 32 percent of babies by C section according to data from the CDC. As a form of surgery, C sections can result in various side effects and complications, including chronic headaches. The actual surgery doesn’t pose many long-term problems, it’s the anesthesia. In my case I used a spinal block but epidurals also pose this risk. A spinal block is usually chosen for C sections because it allows the patient to remain conscious during the surgery and is a very safe option. A narcotic or anesthesia is injected once into the patients back and as they lay down they become numb from the chest down. During vaginal births an epidural is a common choice for pain relief but is a more continuous form of pain relief. A hollow needle is injected into your spine and then a catheter that delivers the medicine is threaded into the hollow needle to stay in your lower back.
Spinal headaches occur when spinal fluid leaks out of the spinal column and it happens in about 1 in every 100 procedures. Most spinal headaches will occur anywhere from an hour to three days after using the spinal anesthesia. The pain feels like hot searing pain that involves the front and back or head and sometimes the neck and shoulders. Pain can vary in severity and it can be made worse by standing or sitting up. Nausea and vomiting can accompany the headaches. In most cases oral medication can help but sometimes the headaches require a blood patch. If you have persistent pain that comes and goes, make an appointment with your obstetrician to get some medication to help. However, if the pain is debilitating you may need a blood patch and should go to the ER immediately as it can only be administered in a hospital.

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