Dizziness during pregnancy is a very common problem experienced by pregnant women. It makes expectant moms to feel unsteady as if they will faint or fall down (and sometimes they do faint). In most cases, it occurs during the first trimester but can also be prevalent throughout the pregnancy period.
Causes of dizziness during pregnancy
One or several causes can make you feel light-headed or dizzy during pregnancy.
After conceiving, your body undergoes major changes. One of these changes is an increase in hormones that cause your blood vessels to relax and dilate. This important change helps your body prepare itself, in readiness to the very important task of supplying enough nutrients to the baby growing inside your womb. Unfortunately, the relaxation and dilation of the blood vessels causes your blood pressure to become lower than in normal circumstances. This can reduce blood flow to the brain, causing you to suffer momentary dizziness.
Low hemoglobin and oxygen levels
Hemoglobin (also spelled haemoglobin) is an iron-based protein molecule found in the red blood cells. This important blood constituent carries oxygen from the respiratory organs and transports it to all the body’s tissues. It then collects carbon dioxide and carries it back to the lungs for onward disposal from the body.
What this means is that if you have low hemoglobin levels (commonly referred to as anemia), your chances of experiencing dizziness during pregnancy increases significantly. The same thing will happen if you are in a place where oxygen level is low. This is mainly because less oxygen is available to the brain for normal functioning of this vital organ.
If you want to have a healthy pregnancy, avoid becoming anemic as much as possible. This complication can drastically affect your health – posing danger to you and the baby – during pregnancy and after delivery. Just remember that anemia during pregnancy is a serious health complication that requires prompt medical attention.
Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)
Hypoglycemia is a health condition that results from low blood sugar (glucose) levels. Low blood sugar can occur when:
• The available body sugar is used up too quickly
• Too much insulin is released into the bloodstream
• Sugar (glucose) release into the bloodstream is very slow
The body requires glucose for its energy needs in order to function optimally. When your blood sugar level is low, the brain does not receive enough energy for its normal functionality and this can lead to dizziness.
Low blood pressure (Hypotension)
This occurs when you suddenly change body position causing orthostatic hypotension to take place. This type of hypotension makes you momentary dizzy for a few seconds or minutes. This more often occurs when you shift from a lying down to a standing position.
When you skip meals, the body will not receive enough nutrients and more so the sugar required for your energy requirements. This might result to a condition of low blood sugar in your body.
Pressure exerted on veins by enlarging uterus
As your pregnancy develops, the uterus enlarges further. Lying on your back, especially when the pregnancy is at an advanced stage, makes the uterus exert pressure on the posterior vena cava decreasing the venous blood return to the heart. The result of this is less blood being available for pumping to the upper part of your body and brain. This ultimately causes you to feel dizzy.
Wearing tight clothes that impede free circulation of blood in the body can also cause you to experience dizziness during pregnancy.
How to prevent dizziness during pregnancy
Unless there is an underlying medical condition that is causing you to feel dizzy, observing and doing a few things can make you prevent dizziness and experience a healthy pregnancy. Here are some things that you do to prevent dizziness during pregnancy.
• Attend prenatal clinic for guidance, hemoglobin check-up, regular blood pressure check-up and supply of iron supplements.
• Always consume a healthy pregnancy diet rich in proteins, vitamins and vital minerals. This will help improve your blood hemoglobin levels and prevent anemia. Also, take adequate fluids so that you increase or maintain blood levels.
• Avoid prolonged periods between meals. If for any reason circumstances dictate that the periods between your meals are lengthy, eat healthy snacks between meals to prevent hypoglycemia setting in.
• Avoid changing body positions too rapidly to prevent orthostatic pressure taking effect in your blood stream. When getting up from a sitting or lying down position, do it slowly.
• Avoid stuffy areas that will reduce oxygen supply to your body. Also, avoid hot crowded areas that can cause your blood vessels to dilate leading to low blood pressure (hypotension).
• Do not stand for long periods and if you must, keep your feet moving so that you increase blood circulation.
• Wear comfortable pregnancy maternity clothes that will not restrict blood circulation.
• Have adequate rest every day to avoid fatigue.
In case you feel faint, try doing the following:
• Sit or lie down and take deep breaths
• If you are wearing tight clothing, loosen it.
• Improve air circulation by opening windows and ventilation.
In as much as dizziness during pregnancy is normal, you should contact a physician if it persists and is accompanied by severe headaches, blurred vision, nausea, severe abdominal pains or vaginal bleeding as this may cause complications to you and the growing baby.