Prevent and Treat Dizziness During Early Pregnancy

by healcure

Dizziness during early pregnancy is a common problem for most pregnant mothers. In fact, if experienced during the first trimester, it helps some women find out that they are pregnant. It’s considered an early pregnancy symptom.

It is common to get dizzy spells and fainting that can be caused by various reasons. Most women will experience dizziness between the 12th week and some time into the first weeks of the second trimester.

Dizziness and lightheadedness are often preceded by warning signs. They include a feeling of warmth, sweating, yawning, paleness, hyperventilation and yawning. Immediately you start getting any of these symptoms, lie down immediately and if possible elevate your legs. This will help prevent fainting. If you can not lie down, sit or kneel on one knee. Bend down while kneeling till the spell passes.

What causes dizziness and how to treat it

During the first weeks of pregnancy, your body must adapt to some changes while preparing to meet the needs of the baby growing in your tummy. This can lead to dizziness due to several factors:

Low Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure will fluctuate during the first months of pregnancy. Progesterone will also be produced at high levels. The circulatory system quickly expands during this time causing the blood pressure to drop. The blood vessels widen and relax which means that the blood flow to the baby will increase but reduce to you. This reduces blood pressure and cuts back on the blood flow supposed to be headed to your brain. This can sometimes make your head spin.

The rise and fall of your blood pressure is normal when pregnant. However, the blood pressure will return to normal either few weeks before you give birth or after birth. All you need to do is relax and always remain calm.

How to tackle blood pressure that fluctuates during pregnancy:

  • Immediately you start feeling dizzy. Sit down. If you feel dizzy while resting, lie down on your side to increase blood flow to the brain and heart.
  • Put your head between your legs to manage the fainting feeling.
  • If the high blood pressure is a pre-existing condition, control it using medication prescribed by a doctor.

Low Blood Sugar

The changes in your metabolism cause low blood sugar levels that lead to dizziness. Women with varicose veins will be more susceptible than others to this type of dizziness. Low blood sugar is not good, especially for the baby’s development. Frequent low blood sugar or hypoglycemia when pregnant could lead to low birth weight. It also exposes your child to risks like hypertension, cognitive defects, nerve malfunctions or diabetes later in life.

As a pregnant mother, make sure that your sugar levels are satisfactory. Blood sugar levels drop mostly due to skipping meals, eating very little, excessive exercise and drinking alcohol.

How to remedy the low blood sugar problem

  • Eat light snacks throughout the day especially when traveling.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day rather than eating three large ones.
  • When you start feeling dizzy, consume foods with lots of sugar like chocolate, candy or fruit juice. This will help you recover from the low blood sugar.

Lying on Your Back for Too Long

When you lie on your back, the baby’s weight presses on the vena cava (this are large veins that help return blood depleted of oxygen into the heart). This mostly happens in the third trimester. The heart pumps less blood when you lie on your back causing the dizzy feeling or anxiousness. The weight of the baby will squeeze the blood vessels in the lower body until you change positions.

Some women develop supine hypotensive syndrome during their 2nd and 3rd trimester. This means that lying on their back makes their heart pump less blood leading to blood pressure drops. This causes feelings of lightheadedness, anxiousness and nausea, until they shift positions.

Remedy:

  • Do not lie on your back when sleeping or exercising. This is unless your midwife okays it during examination.
  • Lie on the side instead of the back. Place a pillow under the hip or behind you to ensure you stay in that position.
  • When changing position from lying down to standing or sitting, avoid rapid reflexes.
  • Do not take long hot showers or stand for long in hot weather. This will lead to dizziness and sometimes even fainting.

Anemia

This is caused by lack of sufficient iron, vitamin B12 or folate in pregnant women. The growing fetus requires a supply of iron that can only be obtained from the mother. If a pregnant mother is anemic, they will feel dizzy since the body does not have enough red blood cells to help carry oxygen to the rest of the body and especially the brain.

Ho to remedy anemia:

  • Ensure your diet is rich in iron, essential vitamins and folic acid. Consume foods rich in iron like spinach, greens, eggs, beef, whole meal bread, cereals and dried fruit. Avoid the iron tablets since they are known to cause diarrhea.
  • Drinks lots of fluids including water, fruit juice, lemon water and coconut water.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea.

Hyperventilation

This causes an increase in the breathing rate, more than what the body requires. Carbon monoxide is then created leading to dizzy spells. During the first trimester, this condition flares up especially due to lack of fitness causing loss of consciousness.  Other causes include asthma, fever, obesity, infections, medications, pneumonia or anxiety. The condition goes away on its own, post birth and so should not cause you sleepless nights. These episodes of hyperventilation last for only 15 to 20 minutes.

Remedies to hyperventilation:

  • Learn proper breathing techniques to help to control it.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly to avoid hyperventilating when your brain lacks oxygen.
  • Take things easy during your pregnancy.

Vasovagal Syncope

Vasovagal is when the circulatory system is affected by the vagus system. Syncope refers to fainting. Actions like straining when peeing, coughing or having a bowel movement can cause a low heart rate and blood pressure, leading to dizziness and sometimes fainting. This can also be triggered by pain, dehydration and anxiety. Most pregnant women experience this often.

How to prevent dizziness during early pregnancy

  1. Avoid standing up too fast.

When you sit for long periods of time, blood pools in your lower legs and feet. Sometimes the body is unable to adjust immediately when you stand up and not enough blood returns to the heart from the legs. The blood pressure will drop as a result leading to faintness.

To prevent this from happening, do not spring from the chair or bed. If lying down, sit up slowly and remain seated for some minutes with the legs dangling on the side. Slowly rise from sitting position to standing.

  1. Move around if in a standing position.

Blood may also pool on your feet if you stand for a long time in one place. Move around to avoid dizzy spells. If you can’t move around, shake your legs to promote circulation.

  1. Avoid overheated places.

This means avoiding hot showers or staying in hot rooms. This can make blood vessels dilate which leads to low blood pressure. Take warm showers and make sure the bathroom is cool.

This also means that you should avoid crowded places and stuffy areas. Dress also in layers so that you can easily remove them when necessary.

  1. Know your limits when it comes to exercises.

Too much exercise and you may hyperventilate leading to faintness. Exercises are good for circulation but do not overdo them. Stop when you get tired or unwell and take it easy always.

  1. Avoid stressful situations and anxiety.
  2. Put on support stockings that aid circulation in your legs.
  3. Eat regularly to avoid low blood sugar.
  4. Stay hydrated

 

Dizziness and lightheadedness during pregnancy are normal especially if triggered by hunger, heat or springing from a chair or bed. However, you should seek medical attention if you get:

  • Persistent lightheadedness
  • Frequent dizziness
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired speech
  • Numbness
  • Chest pains
  • Tingling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness that’s accompanied by a racing pulse and abdominal pain
  • Faintness or dizziness caused by a head injury.

References

  • Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy by Roger W. Harms

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