Headaches after you have had your baby

Headaches are a common complaint and the majority of them are mild and self-limiting.

However, there are some serious causes of headaches that need to be recognised and treated promptly.

Headaches due to tiredness and stress are common in the postnatal period and these can be managed with simple pain killers (paracetamol and ibuprofen), rest and avoiding dehydration by drinking to thirst.

Severe headache:

  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you can't sleep
  • makes daily life difficult to manage

Moderate headache:

  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress

Mild headache:

  • comes and goes
  • you can manage to sleep
  • is annoying but doesn't stop you doing things

If you have any of the following:

  • Having a seizure
  • Sudden onset of severe headache, reaching maximal pain within seconds.
  • Experiencing weakness of arm/legs, loss of vision or double vision
  • Difficulty waking up / unable to rouse - cannot be woken up at all
  • Any change to your speech including slurred speech
  • Any change to your thinking including confusion

You need urgent help.

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department, phone 999 or call your local Maternity Unit immediately.

If you have any of the following:

  • Persistent severe or moderate headache which is not relieved within 4 hours of paracetamol and ibuprofen (as directed).
  • Postural (worse when lying down or sitting up)
  • Symptoms/signs of preeclampsia (raised blood pressure, swelling in your face, arms or legs, seeing “flashing lights”)
  • Dislike of bright light
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting


You need to contact your maternity unit or GP today.

Please ring your GP surgery, your community midwife service or call NHS 111 - dial 111

  • A headache that improves with regular painkillers, rest or drinking enough fluids (by drinking to thirst).

Self care

Continue care at home. If you are still concerned your GP or midwife or call NHS 111 – dial 111

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