Dizziness During Pregnancy: What Causes It And How To Prevent It?

Fainting and Dizziness

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Pregnancy is a unique episode when women go through several changes and experience things that they haven’t experienced before. Dizziness is one among them you might be feeling lightheaded and dizzy when you get up after sitting for a while, or when you bend. But why does that happen and how to deal with it?

In this post, MomJunction tells tell you about dizziness during pregnancy, what causes it, how to ease the condition and when to seek your doctor’s help.

When Does Dizziness Generally Start During Pregnancy?

You might start to feel dizzy from about six weeks in the first trimester. In some cases, you will experience dizziness even in the second and third trimesters as the growing uterus applies pressure on the blood vessels (1).

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Is Dizziness A Common Symptom Of Early Pregnancy?

Yes, dizziness is more common during early pregnancy, owing to nausea and morning sickness. These symptoms cause low blood sugar and loss of appetite that ultimately make you dizzy (2).

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What Causes Dizziness While Pregnant?

The causes of dizziness depend on the stage of pregnancy and could include the various changes that happen in the body (3) (4).

During the first trimester, the hormonal and other changes in the body dilate the walls of the blood vessels. This causes a drop in blood pressure, thus making you feel dizzy. Morning sickness also makes you feel weak and dizzy since your body cannot keep up the foods or liquids.

During the second and third trimesters, the blood volume increases by 30% as the fetus grows (5). This causes an increase in blood pressure, leading to dizziness.

Other reasons for feeling dizzy include:

  • Dehydration and food aversions
  • Excess body heat
  • Drop in blood sugar levels due to gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia that you might develop in late pregnancy
  • Sleeping on your back in late pregnancy will put excess pressure on the blood vessel carrying blood from lower body to the heart. It interferes with optimum circulation, causing dizziness.
  • Hemoglobin, responsible for delivering oxygen to the blood cells, might not be sufficient as the need for blood increases. This could cause anemia, making you feel weak or dizzy.
  • Vasovagal syncope occurs when your vagus nerve affects the circulatory system and makes you faint or feel as if you will faint.

[ Read: Signs Of Dehydration During Pregnancy ]

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What Does Pregnancy Dizziness Feel Like?

Some women may feel dizzy and weak, while some others feel nauseous with a sensation of the room spinning. Some associate dizziness with a merry-go-round feeling, while some see visual changes such as a feeling of falling off, losing balance or seeing stars.

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What To Do When You Feel Dizzy While Pregnant?

Do this when you experience sudden dizziness (4) (6):

  • Open doors and windows, and go to a properly ventilated area.
  • Sit down slowly to avoid a sudden fall, or if possible sit with your head placed in between your knees. Get up slowly as sudden movements will worsen the condition.
  • If there is a chance, lie down on your left side. It will improve the blood circulation to the brain and you will feel better.
  • Have a small snack and drink some water or fruit juice to stimulate your energy levels. This also works if dizziness is because of a drop in blood sugar levels.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take a cold-water bath or shower if you feel lightheaded.

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How Can You Prevent Dizziness During Pregnancy?

You can prevent frequent episodes of dizziness during pregnancy by following a few simple tips.

  • Do not stand for extended periods. Even if you do, try to keep moving a little to improve blood circulation.
  • Avoid sudden jerky movements while getting up from a sitting or lying position, as it could trigger dizziness.
  • Eat at regular intervals, and avoid long gaps of not eating anything. This will maintain your blood sugar levels (7).
  • Do not lie on your back once you reach the mid of the second trimester.
  • Do not have hot water showers or baths
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid overheating the body and restricting blood circulation.
  • Drink enough water to prevent dehydration.
  • Control body temperature by staying in a fresh and cool area.

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When Does Dizziness During Pregnancy Usually End?

Spells of dizziness usually last throughout the pregnancy and mostly subside after the childbirth.

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When Should You See A Doctor?

Dizziness due to hunger, heat, or sudden or jerky movements is not a cause of concern. But, frequent episodes of dizziness or persistent lightheadedness should not be ignored.

Contact your health care provider if the following symptoms accompany dizziness:

  • Blurred vision
  • Severe headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Impaired speech
  • Numbness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain

Also, see a doctor if you experience dizziness along with a racing pulse and abdominal pain, as it indicates an ectopic pregnancy. Your doctor will follow up your condition with necessary tests and assessments.

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Understand and learn to recognize the symptoms of dizziness and follow the given measures to prevent or minimize it. If these tips do not help, go to a doctor.

[ Read: Nausea And Vomiting During Pregnancy ]

Did you feel dizzy a lot during your pregnancy? What did you do? Share any useful tips in the below comment section.

References:

1. Sana Loue & Martha Sajatovic; Encyclopedia of Women’s Health; Page 524
2. Common Discomforts During Pregnancy; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
3. Antenatal Care Module: 7. Physiological Changes During Pregnancy; Open University (OU)
4. Body changes and discomforts; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018)
5. Physiology of Pregnancy; Tulane University
6. Common Discomforts During Pregnancy; UNM Hospitals (2017)
7. Coping With Common Discomforts of Pregnancy; The Regents of The University of California San Francisco

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
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