It is quite common to feel dizzy or lightheaded occasionally. Dramatic changes occur in your cardiovascular system during pregnancy. Your heart rate increases, your heart sends more blood per minute to the body, and total blood in your body increases by about 30-50%.
For the majority of time, your nervous and cardiovascular systems can adjust to these changes and the blood flow to the brain remains adequate. However, occasionally these systems are not able to adjust to these changes quickly enough, leading to a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness or cause fainting.
What Causes Fainting During Pregnancy?
The main cause of lightheadedness during pregnancy is the surge in hormones that lead to relaxation and widening of your blood vessels. Though this helps in increasing the blood flow to the baby, however, it slows the speed of blood returning in your veins. This reduces your blood pressure, thereby, decreasing the blood flow to the brain, leading to temporary lightheadedness.
Fainting may also occur due to low levels of blood sugar that may result from the adaptation of your body to changes in metabolism during pregnancy. Females who suffer from anemia or who have varicose veins in their legs are at an increased risk of developing dizziness. Dizziness may occur during your second trimester as the growing uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels.
Dizziness may occur during late pregnancy while you lie on your back, as the weight of the baby presses on the vena cava, which is a large vein carrying blood from the lower body to the heart.
Will It Harm the Baby?
Your breathing is not stopped while you faint, neither does your heart stop beating; hence there is no danger to the baby. The danger is more of falling and getting hurt.
Fainting during pregnancy itself does not harm the baby. However, if some more serious condition exists that has resulted in fainting then it could become a problem.
Depending upon how many months pregnant you are when the episode of fainting occurs and whether you hit with something on your belly, rarely some damage may occur. You should remember that the baby lies in a sac filled with fluid that fairly cushions the baby from most of the things that may happen during pregnancy.
How to Deal with It
When you feel dizzy or lightheaded you should lie down immediately. The blood flow to your brain and body is maximized when you lie on your side.
If you happen to be in such place here you are not able to lie down, then make sure to sit down and try placing your head in between your knees. You may not be able to do this in the later stages of pregnancy. However, make sure to sit down so that you don’t fall. If you are involved in any activity that may put you or others in danger for an injury, for instance driving, pull over and stop immediately.
Preventions of Fainting During Pregnancy
There are a number of useful tips that you can follow during your pregnancy to reduce the frequency of dizzy of fainting episodes. Some helpful suggestions to reduce lightheadedness are given below:
If possible, don’t stand for long periods of time. If you have to stand, ensure that you keep moving your feet so as to help increase blood circulation.
Make sure that you get up slowly from either lying down or sitting position. Getting up too quickly can result in dropping of blood pressure, which causes dizziness. This point is of special importance while you are getting out after bathing.
Eat at regular intervals of time throughout the day so as to prevent reduction in blood sugar levels. Don’t skip meals and avoid long periods without eating between meals. It is good to keep snacking throughout the day. Always carry with you healthy snacks for pregnancy for a quick boost of blood sugar. Some good options are a piece of fruit, a box of raisins, or some whole wheat crackers.
Ensure that you eat a well balanced and healthy diet during pregnancy. Your diet should be a mix of complex carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta and bread and protein at every meal so that stable blood sugar levels are maintained at all times.
Stay hydrated. Ensure that you are drinking sufficient quantity of water since lightheadedness can be caused due to dehydration too. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day and more if you are in hot environment or you are working out.
Avoid hot showers or baths.
Once you have reached the middle period of second trimester of pregnancy, avoid lying down on your back.
Wear comfortable, loose clothes and avoid tight fitting clothes, hats or scarves so as to avoid restriction of circulation. Dress smartly by wearing easy-to-shed layers of clothes in case you feel overheated.
Take in some fresh air. Dizziness can be triggered by staying in an overheated, stuffy indoor space such as a crammed office, bus or store for too long; hence, try and take a 5 minute break every hour and walk outside in fresh hour. This can also help in relieving other symptoms of pregnancy such as edema and constipation.
When Should I Call My Doctor or Midwife about Fainting During Pregnancy?
Feeling occasionally lightheaded from things such as hunger, heat or getting up too quickly is usually not alarming and this feeling will go away after delivery. However, if the problem is not relieved with the help of simple measures mentioned above or you suffer from persistent dizziness, frequent episodes of lightheadedness or any other types of concerns, do not hesitate to give a call to your doctor.
Also ensure that you seek immediate help if you faint or the feeling of lightheadedness results from a recent injury to the head. Other signs and symptoms that you should not ignore and call your doctor immediately include blurred vision, severe headaches, palpitations, impaired speech, tingling, numbness, chest pain, vaginal bleeding or shortness of breath. Presence of these symptoms could imply that a serious underlying problem is present that could harm you or your growing baby.
During early pregnancy, symptoms of abdominal pain along with dizziness and increased pulse rate could indicate a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which is a medical emergency.