What do you need to know about feeling faint and dizzy while you are expecting a baby?
Dizzy? Relax (probably)
When you get pregnant, your hormones go crazy. As your body gears up and prepares to make the transition from tiny zygote to full-term baby, your blood volume increases by 50 percent and your blood vessels widen. This is why so many women suffer from low blood pressure. It's a shame that high blood pressure gets all the pregnancy press, because although hypotension is not dangerous, it can certainly cause you to feel really bad. Beside low blood pressure, you may also be suffering from low blood sugar levels.
The good old advice to eat smaller meals more frequently than usual helps reduce the morning sickness 75 percent of all first trimester pregnant women suffer from, because it helps keep your blood sugar levels steady. You don't have to eat a full meal to achieve this. Some dry toast and a banana may actually be best. Bananas keep your blood sugar steady for quite a while.
A third cause of feeling dizzy and faint in pregnancy is iron-deficiency anemia. This is something you'll be checked for over the course of your prenatal appointments. You may still like to increase your intake of iron-rich foods, like leafy greens and meat if you eat it. As your pregnancy progresses, the pressure of your uterus may put your blood vessels under a great deal of pressure, and this too can cause dizziness during pregnancy. A change in position often offers instant relief.
Dizziness is the most common during the first trimester of pregnancy, but it can also happen during your second and third trimesters. As you can see from the number of possible causes we've just listed, there usually is no need to worry. Still, it is important to listen to your body and to take any symptoms you experience seriously. I remember standing in a grocery store queue with my little daughter during the first trimester of my second pregnancy, sure that I was going to faint. If you experience something similar, don't feel you have to force yourself to carry on with life as usual. That can be quite dangerous. Sit down, have a drink of water, and a bite to eat. Don't even think about driving. Relax until you feel better about it, and then call your OBGYN or midwife to discuss your symptoms over the next few days.
More serious causes of dizziness during pregnancy
While most cases of dizziness during pregnancy aren't serious, there are some very notable exceptions. These pregnancy complications that cause dizziness also have other symptoms, which may help you recognize whether you are simply suffering from a dizzy spell or have a more serious problem on your hand.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes in pregnancy, in women who are not usually diabetic. Besides dizzy spells, women with gestational diabetes can feel thirsty all the time, have very frequent urination, feel tired, have blurred vision and may suffer from more frequent infections like thrush.
Some women who have placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta partially or entirely covers the cervix, also report frequent dizziness. The main other symptom of placenta previa is vaginal bleeding, but placenta previa is usually diagnosed through ultrasound. If you have placenta previa, your doctor will give you instructions on how to manage it (taking it easy, mainly).
Preeclampsia is a very dangerous pregnancy condition. It is mainly characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Dizziness and fainting are symptoms. Severe headaches, a high blood pressure, and swelling in hands, feet and face are others. If you notice these symptoms, going straight to the ER is a good course of action. Any woman who suffers from severe dizzy spells, or simply one bout of dizziness that really has her worried, should not hesitate to seek prompt medical attention one minute. Your doctor is used to pregnant women calling when nothing is wrong, so that's no crime. Listening to your intuition and your actual symptoms could save your life, however.