I Feel Dizzy, Is this Normal? Faintness in Early Pregnancy

Don't ignore dizziness if it's worrying you or if it won't go away. Ask your caregiver about any symptoms that seem not-quite-right. Image by Decoded Pregnancy

Don’t ignore dizziness if it’s worrying you or if it won’t go away. Ask your caregiver about any symptoms that seem not-quite-right. Image by Decoded Pregnancy

Yes, dizziness or feeling faint is a normal symptom during pregnancy. It is more common in the early weeks, but may also occur throughout your pregnancy. There are multiple potential causes for dizziness – perhaps you’ve been standing up too long, or haven’t eaten recently, or you’re wearing tight clothing which is restricting your circulation. Whatever it is, your body is probably telling you something. Listen to your body if it needs something – and don’t be afraid to ask your caregiver if you’re concerned!

Dizziness During Pregnancy is Mainly Due to Rising Hormone Levels

Hormones cause your blood vessels to relax and widen, increasing blood flow to your baby. These effects can slow the return of the blood in the veins to your organs. Your blood pressure may be lower than usual, as a result, reducing the blood flow to your brain, temporarily. You feel light-headed and even nauseated while standing in line at the bank. You may be afraid you will throw up and pass out if you don’t sit down immediately! Women who have varicose veins may be even more susceptible to dizziness.

Other Causes of Feeling Faint When Pregnant: Iron Deficiency and Low Blood Sugar

Low blood sugar levels, a response to changes in your metabolism during pregnancy, may also cause feelings of dizziness, nausea, tremors or clammy skin. The solution is as easy as taking a few bites of food—a piece of fruit or high protein snack is ideal. Prevent future incidences by eating small frequent meals throughout the day.

Iron deficiency anemia can occur in later pregnancy, sometimes causing dizziness, shortness of breath and fatigue. Pale skin color and cravings for ice are common symptoms. Eating iron-rich foods like beans and dark green leafy vegetables may help prevent anemia. Yellow dock is an excellent herbal source of iron that is safe to use in pregnancy.

As your baby grows larger, and especially if you are carrying twins, you may feel dizzy when you lay on your back, due to pressure on your vena cava (a large vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart). Pregnant women generally avoid this position instinctively, choosing to sleep on their sides instead.


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Preventing and Treating Dizzy Spells

If you’re experiencing dizzy spells, try these helpful suggestions to prevent and deal with the lightheadedness:

  • Avoid standing for long periods or keep your feet moving when you have to stand, to encourage better circulation.
  • Get up slowly from either sitting or lying down, especially when getting out of a bath.
  • Don’t skip meals; have healthy snacks throughout the day.
  • Don’t take very hot baths or showers.
  • Stay off your back during the second half of pregnancy.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Tight apparel may restrict circulation.

If you do already feel dizzy, these tips may help:

  • Lie down or sit down and lower your head.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Loosen tight clothes.
  • Get some fresh air.
  • Carry dried fruit, nuts or protein bars to snack on.

Pregnancy Lightheadedness

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time – so much is going on in your body; you’re making a baby, after all! Dizzy spells and nausea are just another not-so-fun symptom, but don’t let them add on to your stress. To reduce your dizziness, eat well and often, don’t overtax your body, wear comfy, loose clothes, and stand, sleep, eat, and live in comfortable positions. You’re pregnant. Spoil yourself a little, and you’ll feel better.

Resources:

Mayo Clinic Staff. First trimester pregnancy: what to expect. Mayo Clinic. Accessed October 16, 2013.

Utah Department of Health: Maternal and Infant Health Program. Discomforts of Pregnancy. (2013). Utah Department of Health. Accessed October 16, 2013.

Cleveland Clinic. Diseases and conditions: Am I Pregnant? Accessed October 16, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 Mary Earhart: Pregnancy, Childbirth, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Pregnancy
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