Ever felt lightheaded and dizziness during pregnancy? If so, there are several questions you may be asking yourself. Although dizziness can be alarming, it important to understand that it’s something normal. In fact, most women will experience dizziness at some point during pregnancy.
Several factors cause dizziness during pregnancy. However, the cause may vary from one woman to another. So, you shouldn’t be shocked if your case is different from that of your friend. To help you understand the connection between dizziness and pregnancy, we exhaust in this guide all the issues surrounding dizziness in pregnancy.
Read on to learn about what causes dizziness while pregnant, and the measure you can take to manage this symptom.
Pregnancy is an essential period in every woman’s life, and any slight change in their body can be alarming. However, it is important to understand that there are several changes that you’ll experience during this period. One of them is dizziness. Dizziness is closely associated with the usual morning sickness like Nausea and Vomiting.
Morning sickness plays a significant role in causing dizziness. It makes you lose your appetite, and once you cut food intake, you become prone to low blood sugar. These events cause dizziness. You will discover that you feel dizzy after sitting down for a long time, or when you try to bend and stand up immediately.
Dizziness also occurs when your body is trying to adapt to the new changes which trigger the release of certain hormones and the expansion of your uterus. What you don’t know is that this is what most expectant women go through. Therefore, this shouldn’t make you panic.
What Causes Dizziness While Pregnant?
If you are feeling dizzy, then various factors could be responsible. The significant causes of dizziness include rising hormones, expansion of the uterus, loss of appetite and Postprandial Hypotension.
However, most of these causes are harmless and won’t have long term effect on your or the baby. But even though dizziness is manageable, you should consult a doctor when the condition persists.
Let’s look at these causes in details:
1. Changing Hormones
Different hormones such as Estrogen are associated with maintaining the pregnancy. These hormones cause the blood vessels to dilate so that sufficient blood flow reaches the baby considering that the baby depends on nutrients from the mother’s blood. An increase in the hormone Estrogen causes an increase in body fluids. The rise in body fluids will result in a drop of blood sugar, and the decrease in blood sugar is what causes dizziness.
Also, to ensure that the baby receives maximum blood flow, the hormones will cause your blood vessels to widen and relax. However, this change slows down the blood flow in your veins. As a result, your body pressure will fall below the average level reducing blood flow to your brain thus causing dizziness.
2. Pressure on Your Uterus
When you lie on your back, especially during later stages of pregnancy, the weight of the uterus can exert pressure on important veins. This effect limits the amount of blood reaching the heart, which leads to a drop in blood pressure. This means adequate blood flow will not reach the brain and shortage in blood supply in the brain results to dizziness.
3. Morning Sickness
During the first stages of the pregnancy, you may vomit and experience nausea. This condition is generally known as morning sickness. Most expectant women will suffer a loss of appetite during this phase. It results in a drop in blood sugar because foods contain sugars in the form of sucrose and fructose. Drop in blood sugar causes hypoglycemia. This condition may get worse if you are anemic or you have severe pregnancy sickness.
4. Postprandial Hypotension
Postprandial Hypotension is a condition that you are likely to experience immediately after eating. If you overeat, the blood flow to the intestines will be increased. To meet this requirement, blood will be sourced from other parts of the body resulting in a drop in the brain. Shortage of blood supply in the brain affects its proper functionality and you may end up feeling dizzy.
Anemia occurs when your body is unable to manufacture enough red blood cells. This condition deprives some organs such as the brain enough oxygen. Every cell in your body requires oxygen that is used to produce energy. Your brain contains neurons which require a considerable amount of energy, which makes it dependent on oxygen delivered in good blood supply. If the brain doesn’t receive sufficient oxygenated blood, then you are likely to experience dizziness, and in some cases, fainting might occur to you
6. Vasovagal Syncope
This condition happens when you experience emotional distress during pregnancy. If the stress is too much, your body might overreact to the trigger leading to a sudden drop in heart and blood pressure rates. Dizziness or fainting is a possibility at this stage.
Preeclampsia is a condition that occurs around the 20th week of pregnancy. This condition results from pregnancy complications involving high blood pressure and possible damage to the kidney and liver. This causes dizziness, and the main symptoms are vision changes, dizziness, reduced urine output, rapid weight gain, and abdominal pain.
8. Low Blood Pressure
While low blood pressure might not be serious, health problems such as dizziness arise if the condition becomes chronic. Low blood pressure occurs when blood pressure suddenly drops. This change deprives your brain and other important organs an adequate supply of blood. Shortage of blood supply in these organs in turn reduces oxygen supply which leads to dizziness.
If you don’t drink enough water, your blood will become thicker since water makes the largest percentage in the blood is water. This in turn might affect the pumping of blood by your heart to other parts of the body including the brain and might cause dizziness.
10. Low Blood Sugar
Also known as Hypoglycemia, it is a condition characterized by low glucose or sugar in the blood. While this condition doesn’t indicate any health issues, low blood sugar levels affect the optimum functionality of your body. This is because all the body cells in your body such as the brain need the energy to function. When the sugar levels fall below certain levels, you will start experiencing dizziness, sweating, nausea and heart racing.
Anxiety levels increase heart rates, which consequently leads to high blood pressure. As a result, you may experience dizziness and even fainting in some cases.
12. Restricted Blood Flow
If you wear tight clothing, they may restrict the movement of blood in certain blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. This in turn leads to a shortage of blood supply to the vital organs leading to dizziness.
Overheating occurs when the body loses much water to the surrounding, and this water may be drawn from body fluids like blood. For that reason, blood loses its fluidity or the ability to move in blood vessels. If blood is unable to reach the brain in sufficient quantities then you may experience dizziness.
14. Poor Sleeping Position
If you sleep on your back, especially during the second and final trimester, chances are the uterus may press on some blood vessels temporarily blocking the movement of blood to the heart. As a result blood supply in your body may be affected cutting oxygenated blood from reaching important body organs which triggers conditions like dizziness.
When Does Dizziness Start During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy has three trimesters, and each one of them is associated with a specific change in your body. Most of these changes are hormonal and depend on the size of the fetus. Dizziness will occur throughout the trimesters because hormones sustain the pregnancy.
The leading causes of dizziness during the first trimester is hormonal changes and morning sickness. Like explained before, hormones such as Estrogen increase the number of fluids in the blood and other body organs. This makes the blood vessels to dilate leading to a drop in blood pressure. A decrease in blood pressure causes dizziness due to less blood in the brain.
Morning sickness is also responsible, and it makes you lose appetite. Loss of appetite leaves you weak and dizzy since your body can’t maintain the liquid or food which are required for optimum functioning of your body.
At this point, the fetus has grown by 30%. The leading causes of dizziness at this stage is the growing size of the uterus. As the baby grows, the womb will increase in size, in the process press on some blood vessels thereby interfering with blood flow to other parts of the body like the brain.
At this stage, the baby is almost ready to be born. The blood volume increases by nearly 25-30% to cater for the growing baby’s needs. Hormones will dilate the blood vessels so that the baby receives sufficient nutrition to sustain its growth.
More blood will be directed to the uterus, thanks to hormones like Progesterone and HCG, which maintain the pregnancy. Because of the size of the uterus, it will be pressing on major blood vessels like Vena Cava. This inhibits the blood flow from reaching other parts of the body causing dizziness.
13 Best Ways To Prevent Dizziness During Pregnancy
Here are simple tips that can help you reduce or avoid dizziness during pregnancy. Although you might not be able to eliminate the feeling entirely, you will find them very useful during the period.
1. Get Up Slowly
Sudden rising from a sitting or a sleeping position will cause Postural Hypotension. This condition leads to a fall in your blood pressure reducing the blood flow to your brain. You should rise gradually, giving your blood sufficient time to reach the brain.
2. Don’t Stand for Long Periods
During pregnancy, you are always advised to have plenty of rest. After standing for extended periods, blood will be unable to reach other body organs. It is advisable that you avoid staying in one position for long, move around to aid in blood circulation.
3. Don’t Overdo It on The Exercise
Exercising will also help to increase blood flow and hyperventilation. However, this doesn’t mean that you exaggerate the practice. Overdoing the exercise will drain your blood sugar that is responsible for the production of energy. As a result, you might faint or feel dizzy in the process.
4. Don’t Lie on Your Back After the First Trimester
Don’t lie on your back, especially during the second and third trimester The baby is all grown up, and the uterus is pressing on some blood vessels. This inhibits the blood flow out of the womb, causing low blood pressure to reach the brain.
Always lie on your right side, since lying on your left hand will increase pressure on your heart. Some women may experience nausea and feel anxious when lying flat on their back. This condition is called Supine Hypotensive Syndrome and can be corrected by merely by shifting your position.
5. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is also one of the leading causes of dizziness while pregnant. If you don’t drink enough water, your blood will be thick and heavy. The heart will be unable to pump it to vital organs leading to hypertension. You not only have to drink water but also stay in a serene environment.
6. Feast Frequently
At any point in the stages of your pregnancy, you need more food than ever. Your menu will sustain you and the baby; otherwise, the baby will drain all the nutrients in your body leaving you very skinny and unhealthy.
The consequences of not eating are fatal. Eat at regular intervals; don’t skip meals. During the first trimester, nausea will make you lose your appetite. It should not deter you from eating. Eating a balanced diet will ensure that the blood sugar and blood pressure remains stable.
7. Get Some Fresh Air
During the later stages of the pregnancy, you should avoid crowded places. If you have to be in those places, find a spot near the window. So that your body gets enough oxygen in the blood to avoid dizziness and fainting.
8. Wear Compression Stocking
These stockings will help move blood up your limbs, especially when standing for too long. It is also suitable for mothers who have Varicose Veins, a condition that occurs in the leg blood veins. Stockings also help prevent blood clots. It helps keep the blood circulation in check.
9. Take Iron Supplements
For anemic expectant mothers, it is advisable you seek medical attention. The doctor will prescribe iron supplements to aid in hemoglobin manufacture for efficient oxygen transportation in blood.
10. Wear Loose Clothing
Loose clothing prevents water loss from the body through overheating and doesn’t restrict blood flow by pressing on blood veins close to the skin surface.
11. Avoid Overheating
Always stay in a serene environment to avoid your body losing too much water to the surrounding. Avoid stuffy and overcrowded places, so that you keep your body temperature at optimum levels.
12. Sleep on Your Left Side
Always sleep on your left side to prevent the uterus from pressing on blood vessels in the womb region. Especially during the final stages of the pregnancy where the uterus is enlarged in size.
13. Keep Your Blood Circulating
Don’t sleep or sit for long, do some exercises so that you stay healthy. The heart muscles need to stay strong, that’s why you need to exercise to improve blood circulation.
How to Keep Safe When You Feel Dizzy During Pregnancy?
If you’re feeling dizzy during pregnancy, this is what you should do:
1. Lie Down on Your Left Side
If you have been standing for long, you need to sit down or lie down. It encourages the flow of blood to your brain. Remember that dizziness occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood to the brain. Lie on your right side and not on your back, as this will only make matters worse.
Women experiencing Vasovagal Syncope will faint on the spot if they don’t lie down immediately. This is a condition where your Vagus nerve is blocking some blood vessels in your circulatory system. The term Syncope means “Fainting”. The only remedy is to lie down and loosen your clothing, or if you are lying down, shift position.
2. Drink Something
Drinking water is recommended, especially if you are in a crowded or stuffy place. Usually, the temperatures are high in these places which makes your body to lose excess water. Your blood vessels will also dilate leading to hypotension. Always carry some water with you, and stay close to the window. Open the window for fresh circulating air. It serves to increase the oxygen levels in your blood, limiting instances of fainting or feeling dizzy.
3. Grab Some Snacks
If you are out there traveling, and suddenly you start experiencing dizziness during pregnancy, you need a snack like a chocolate bar or something. This will sustain your blood sugar until you eat a proper meal. If you feel weak and lightheaded, then you are about to faint. Carry snacks in your purse, and eat them in monitored amount before meals. It will stabilize your blood sugar and pressure levels.
4. Loosen Any Tight Clothing
As soon as you start feeling dizzy, loosen your clothing. It might be that your attire is too tight, and it is pressing on to your veins close to the skin surface. Always wear loose clothing while pregnant to avoid these instances, especially around the womb area. The dress might be pressing the uterus region, which in turn blocks blood movement in the Vena Cava.
It is worth noting that the Vena Cava transports blood from the leg region to the heart. In case this movement is blocked, then sufficient oxygenated blood will not be available for other organs. It is a leading cause of dizziness.
5. Open Windows and Move Towards Circulating Air
The main point here is to keep the oxygen levels in your blood high enough. Take deep breaths as you move towards the window or any other source of fresh air. It will help avoid instances of dizziness and fainting during pregnancy.
6. Hold onto Something for Stability
Falling is more dangerous to you and the baby, in case you feel that you are about to fall. Call out for assistance and hold on to something like a chair or table. Anything substantial to support your weight. You and your baby need to be safe as you await assistance.
7. Get Up Slowly
Avoid jerky movements that may cause postural dizziness during pregnancy. Always get up slowly to avoid the blood from being unable to reach the brain on time.
8. Take Deep Breaths
The aim is to increase the amount of air in the lungs for sufficient blood oxygenation. Dizziness occurs when sufficient oxygenated blood does not reach the brain.
9. Sit Down
If you feel that the dizziness is getting out a hand while standing, you should sit down and give your body the time to adjust. Avoid standing for too long.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Dizziness in pregnancy is no cause for alarm, but if you are experiencing frequent dizziness or persistent lightheadedness or even fainting, then you will need to see your general practitioner. Here are the symptoms you should be on the lookout for:
These symptoms could be indications of medical emergencies like miscarriages and ruptured Ectopic pregnancies. Take action immediately by consulting a doctor before matters get out of hands.
The Bottom Line
It is common to feel dizzy during pregnancy because your body is adjusting to changes. Although the condition is common, always keep in touch with your healthcare provider whenever you experience dizziness. This means that you should talk about it every time you experience it on your next checkup. But if it persists, it is advisable to call your doctor immediately.
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