Parenting With Migraine: How the Pandemic is Crushing Moms With Migraine

Covid-19 and Migraine | 4 Min. Read
Author: Ctrl M Health Migraine Team
Reviewed by: Ctrl M Health Medical Directors

Summary

  • Stress is a migraine trigger, making this pandemic back-to-school season an especially difficult time for parents with migraine, the vast majority of whom are women.
  • Studies show that women also continue to perform most of the childcare and housework. 
  • Altogether, many women are left with little time or energy for the proactive self-care required to improve health with migraine.
  • Having social support — people and institutions you can rely upon for help — is essential. It will free you up to engage in the migraine management activities you need.

Full Article

 Stressed out mom in front of laptop with two disruptive daughters in foreground and background.It’s a school day in the age of Covid-19: Time to set up your restless children in front of their screens for virtual class, then keep them attentive and on-schedule throughout the school day. You also serve their lunch, provide their tech support, and help with their homework.  Simultaneously, you’re attending to your own work. Also, the house is a mess. The baby’s in your lap during Zoom meetings. The dog needs walking. And your head is pounding—because on top of everything, you’re parenting with migraine

Sound familiar? With most children learning from home in some capacity, this back-to-school season has cranked up Covid-19 stress yet another notch. Overwhelmingly, the burdens of that day-to-day scramble fall on women, who also make up the vast majority of people with migraine.

Parenting With Migraine As A Mom

Right now, a few factors are coming together to squeeze moms with migraine:

Pandemic stress is already taking a toll on people with migraine: In May, 58% of people with migraine surveyed said their headaches have worsened. What happens when they’re further exacerbated by back-to-school stress? And with no end to Covid-19 in sight, how can moms parenting with migraine continue to cope?

The Case for Asking for Help

The first step for moms with migraine, says Jefferson Headache Center’s Dr. Simy Parikh, is to know the most important ingredient you’ll need to succeed. The answer may surprise you. “The most important thing is social support,” says Dr. Parikh. “It comes down to whether or not you have the environment that supports you.”

Having people and structures that make your life a little easier are crucial for a critical reason: they free you up to engage in migraine management. Managing migraine is more than popping a pill; it involves proactively doing things that are good for you. But in order to do those activities — or to even think about doing them — you need the time and energy to make it happen, or else you’re stuck. That’s the situation women largely find themselves in: too busy to get better.

Take a moment to think about the following:

    • Do you have anyone to help with responsibilities at home?
    • Do you have a flexible workplace environment?
    • Do you have the ability to take breaks during the day and relax?

Those are the make-or-break factors for migraine, says Dr. Parikh. “Take two patients with the exact headache frequency and severity, Patient A and Patient B. If one patient has support, they can go on working. If they don’t, they may have to get disability assistance.” She adds, “So many things come into play with migraine, aside from neurobiology. Access to support plays a big role in health outcomes. I think Covid-19 is really shining a light on that.”

How does a busy mom begin asking for support? How do you evaluate your own needs, especially when everything feels urgent? And, importantly, if you were able to get some help, how could you best use that sliver of time and ease for your own migraine care? Read the second part of our series on parenting with migraine: Stress Migraine: How To Seek Help During A Pandemic.”

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