Your body goes through several changes during pregnancy, and some of them may make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. During pregnancy, some women may faint. Although not all pregnant women faint, dizziness is a very common and acceptable symptom of pregnancy.
There are various reasons why you might feel lightheaded during pregnancy, and it’s not always a sign that something is wrong. However, as with any new pregnancy symptom, you should discuss this with your doctor or midwife during your next prenatal care session.
What Causes Dizziness While Pregnant?
When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a lot of changes, so your dizziness can be caused by a variety of things.
1. High blood pressure
Hormones enlarge your blood vessels early in pregnancy to ensure that enough blood is delivered to your baby. However, your blood pressure is lower than normal due to a combination of your body’s blood volume not yet catching up with the expanding circulatory system and the increased amount making it to your uterus. This could lead to a reduced blood supply to your brain, which may make you feel dizzy for a short time, especially if you stand up or change your position suddenly. Varicose veins are common in pregnant women and many develop them during pregnancy, which can lead to dizziness.
2. Low blood pressure
It can be difficult to eat the number of calories needed to feed your body when you have pregnancy nausea, morning sickness, or food aversions, especially if your nausea is chronic and severe. Since your metabolism changes during pregnancy, your doctor will perform routine tests for gestational diabetes mellitus. A drop in blood sugar can cause dizziness, sweating, shaking, and lightheadedness, which can make the experience much more unpleasant if it occurs at the same time as vomiting.
3. Bad sleeping position
Late in pregnancy, sleeping on your back puts extra pressure on the large blood vessel that brings blood back from the lower body back to the heart, causing severe dizziness until you change position and blood flow is restored.
4. Restricted Blood Flow
Your uterus can press on your internal blood arteries as your belly grows, reducing blood flow. This is why lying on your back during the third trimester can cause dizziness and why lying on your back should be avoided during workouts.
You carry a small heater in your abdomen, and it only takes a little to push you over the edge, especially if you’re in a stuffy environment. Overheating can make you dizzy and even knock you unconscious.
Preeclampsia, a syndrome that affects 3 to 7% of pregnant women, can cause dizziness. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that can lead to major consequences for mother and baby, including death. If you have dizziness, keep in mind that it’s not always due to preeclampsia.
However, be on the lookout if you experience other symptoms besides dizziness after 20 weeks of pregnancy, such as headaches or abdominal pain, vision changes, urinating much less frequently than usual, rapid and significant weight gain, and especially if you have a history of chronic diseases such as hypertension or diabetes, if this is your first pregnancy or if you are pregnant with multiples.
When you’re pregnant, it’s easy to get dehydrated, especially if you can’t hold anything in because of vomiting or frequent trips to the bathroom. Dehydration, however, can lead to overheating as well as dizziness and lightheadedness.
During pregnancy, your body produces extra blood to meet your needs and those of your child. If you don’t get enough iron, folate, or cobalamin in your diet, your body may be unable to make the number of red blood cells needed to produce that extra blood, as well as haemoglobin, a protein found in the body. inside the red blood cells which are responsible for the supply of oxygen.
Anaemia affects more than half of pregnant women. Even if you consume adequate nutrition, you may suffer from mild anaemia throughout pregnancy. However, severe anaemia can cause dizziness due to a lack of oxygenated blood reaching your brain, especially when standing. Severe anaemia can be dangerous for you and your baby, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
How can I prevent dizziness during pregnancy?
There are several things you can do to prevent dizziness while you’re pregnant.
Here are some of them:
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day, or as much as is necessary to keep your urine clear or very light yellow. If it’s hot outside or you’re exercising, adjust this quantity. Remember that milk, yoghurt, smoothies, juice, tea, and coffee, in addition to water, contribute toward your fluid consumption. Limit your daily caffeine intake to less than 200 mg and avoid alcoholic and sugary drinks. It may seem daunting to try to boost your fluid intake when you’re already racing to the bathroom every 10 minutes, but your body will adjust after a few days of higher water consumption, and you won’t feel the need to urinate as frequently. Other common pregnancy symptoms include exhaustion, constipation, haemorrhoids, and swelling/fluid retention. Regular hydration will help you overcome these problems.
- Don’t overdo it while exercising: Exercising too much can make you feel dizzy and overheated. Although exercise is generally considered healthy and advisable during pregnancy, it is crucial to listen to your body and avoid overexerting yourself.
- Sleep on the left side: When you sleep on the left side, blood flow to your baby is optimal. Use a pregnancy pillow to cradle your belly, cushion your hip, or place it between your knees to support them and protect them from pressure on your back and hips if you have trouble getting comfortable.
- Eat small, frequent meals: Keeping your blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day can help stave off dizziness. Constipation can be fought with a well-balanced diet, and eating often will keep your stomach from emptying. If you suffer from pregnancy nausea, an empty stomach can make you feel nauseous and make it harder to store new foods, increasing your risk of low blood sugar and accompanying dizziness.
- Get enough fresh air: When it’s hot outside, stay away from crowded places and reduce your use of public transport. Taking long hot baths or showers has the same effect.
- Wear loose clothing: Dizziness can be caused by poor or limited blood circulation. Choose clothes that won’t obstruct your circulation or make you overheat when getting dressed. Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that aren’t too tight. Although maternity clothes belly panels should fit snugly against your skin, they should not be tight, uncomfortable or leave deep indentations when removed. Also remember that your underwear, especially your bra, should not be too tight. Since your rib cage and breasts increase during pregnancy, you may need to upgrade to a larger bra size if it becomes uncomfortable and cuts off blood flow.
- Get up slowly: Slowly move from a lying or sitting position to a standing position to give your circulatory system time to catch up. When you get up, you can lean on a wall or other object for support, giving yourself time to acclimate to the change. Standing causes blood to pool in your legs, causing a transient drop in blood pressure and dizziness. Your enlarged blood arteries during pregnancy increase this.
- Do not stand for long periods: change your position frequently. If you must stand for long periods of time, move frequently and keep your knees bent to maintain circulation. Take a chance to lie down and elevate your legs after you’ve been on your legs for a while.
- Wear compression stockings: Compression stockings can help relieve swollen feet and varicose veins, as well as dizziness, by reducing the space in the legs for blood to pool, allowing more blood to reach the upper body, including the brain.
- Take iron supplements: Iron deficiency is the most common cause of dizziness caused by anaemia. Take a prenatal vitamin with extra iron. If you’re still anaemic, ask your doctor or midwife for a pregnancy-safe iron supplement that won’t make you feel bloated. Starting iron supplements at your first prenatal exam, some experts say, is a good idea. This will help with anaemia related dizziness.
How to Stay Safe When You Feel Dizzy
If you are actively dizzy or regularly suffer from dizziness, there are several precautions you can take to stay safe and avoid falling.
- Avoid driving: If you frequently experience dizziness, you should avoid driving for a while until you feel ready to do so again.
- Take a Seat: Do not attempt to complete the episode if you feel dizzy. Sit or lie down until the feeling passes, take a few deep breaths, then slowly rise back up.
- Hold onto something for stability: Hold onto a table or chair for balance if you’re not prone to fainting but suffer from dizziness.
- Drink or eat something: If your dizziness is caused by low blood sugar, opt for a snack high in sugar or carbohydrates like fruit, candies, a bottle of juice or a granola bar for immediate relief. You can also bring some of these goodies with you for emergencies.
When should I see a doctor?
During your prenatal exams, your doctor monitors your blood pressure and other critical signs. Let them know of any dizziness you feel so they can monitor your symptoms, but it’s usually not necessary to alert them outside of your regular appointments. Ideally, your healthcare professional will explain how to manage and prevent dizziness during your regular appointments, which will help you avoid undue stress.
If you faint or lose consciousness, you should contact your doctor immediately. They can test you for anaemia, as well as your blood pressure and blood sugar, to see if any of these factors are contributing to your symptoms. If you feel dizzy, your heart races and you have pain in your abdomen or chest, or if you detect significant swelling or vaginal bleeding, see your doctor immediately.
If your dizziness is accompanied by a headache and blurred vision, you should see a doctor.