Around week 9 of pregnancy, a person may experience headaches. Mild headaches are common in early pregnancy and can occur due to high levels of hormones.
At 9 weeks pregnant, your baby moves from the embryonic stage to the fetal stage. There is continued rapid growth with huge developmental strides. They are now around the size of a peanut.
As the muscles are continuing to get stronger, your baby will now be making a lot of waves in the amniotic fluid, with spontaneous movements of their limbs.
At this stage, it might be possible to hear a heartbeat for the very first time with the use of a handheld Doppler. However, this is not always possible and positional changes of the baby may make hearing the heartbeat more of a challenge.
This feature is part of a series of articles on pregnancy. Find out what to expect at each stage of pregnancy and get some insights into how your baby is developing. Take a look at the other articles in the series:
You are unlikely to be visibly pregnant at 9 weeks because there are few, if any, visible body changes.
However, some physical pregnancy symptoms may already be present, or starting imminently.
During most pregnancies, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), also known as the pregnancy hormone, doubles approximately every 48 to 72 hours following implantation.
Between weeks 8 and 12, levels of HCG are at their peak, and then they drop for the rest of the pregnancy.
These high levels of HCG can affect how you feel at this time.
Mood swings may make your feelings hard to control, especially as you start to wonder how your new life will be.
Morning sickness may be particularly bad at this time. Ginger tea and small, frequent meals may help.
Nasal congestion is more common during pregnancy, as the body makes more mucus than usual.
Headaches can result from hormonal fluctuations. Ask a health provider before you take any medication, as some drugs can affect the unborn child.
The American Pregnancy Association notes as a guideline that between weeks 9 and 12 weeks, HCG levels may range from 25,700 to 288,000 mIU/mL.
They urge women not to worry about their HCG levels, as each individual is different.
However, an unexpected change in HCG levels can be a sign that medical help may be necessary.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, at 9 weeks, the developing baby measures 1.67 inches (4.24 centimeters), or the size of a shelled peanut or strawberry.
Developments that are underway include:
- Head and neck: The head is more straightened and rounded and the face is forming.
- Eyes: The eyes remain closed, but there is full retinal pigmentation present.
- Mouth: The surface of the tongue will now have taste buds and the palate bones start the process of fusion.
- Ears: With the external ears fully developed, they appear much more pronounced.
- Limbs: All limbs are formed with the fingers and toes having a distinct appearance, and the arms are now bent at the elbow.
- Abdomen and pelvis: The liver, spleen, and gallbladder form and the intestines continue to make their way into the body from the umbilical cord. The external genitalia remain unrecognizable.
Week 9 is a good time to attend a prenatal visit, if you have not already done so.
Also, if genetic testing is under consideration, this is a good time to speak to a doctor about it. Testing is usually done between weeks 9 and 13 for early screening.
Increasing breast size might be causing a certain amount of discomfort. This can be a good time to try sleeping on the left side. This is a good way to improve blood flow to the baby.
This can happen because of hormonal and other changes. According to the American Pregnancy Association, causes of headaches during pregnancy include:
- an increase in blood volume
- stress and lack of sleep
- changes in vision
- poor posture
- low blood sugar
- caffeine withdrawal
Studies suggest, however, that around 8 percent of women will have more frequent or more severe migraines than usual, and 16.5 percent will experience migraines for the first time.
Those who know their migraine triggers should try to avoid these during pregnancy. Migraine headaches are difficult to treat at this time, as the usual medications may have an adverse effect on the developing fetus.
If you experience headaches at this time, the following home remedies may help:
- changing sleeping habits
- ensuring you get enough exercise
- following a varied and healthful diet
- as far as possible, avoiding stress and getting enough rest
- applying heat or cold pads to the head
- having a massage
- increasing hydration
It is important to speak to a health provider before taking any medication for headaches or other problems during pregnancy, as some treatments may affect the fetus.
When to see a doctor
Call your doctor if you experience a sudden or severe headache, or if you also have any of the following symptoms:
- visual disturbances
- pain below the ribs
- abdominal pain and swelling
- swelling of the hands, face, or feet that occurs suddenly
These could be signs of pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition that involves high blood pressure during pregnancy. This is very rare early in pregnancy, but it should be evaluated by a doctor.
Other possible causes of severe headaches that need attention include cerebrovascular problems, such as cerebral venous thrombosis, and pituitary apoplexy. A
It is important to seek help if you are concerned about unusual symptoms at any time during pregnancy.