Starting in the first trimester, you may experience dizziness or the sensation that you’re lightheaded during pregnancy. Feeling dizzy and lightheaded when pregnant is a normal pregnancy symptom, and while it’s a frightening experience, it is absolutely normal.
Causes of Dizziness in Pregnancy
When you’re expecting a baby, your cardiovascular system undergoes a lot of changes to support your pregnancy. Your heart rate increases, and you are pumping more blood than ever. The volume of blood in your body increases up to 50 percent.
In the first trimester, your blood pressure gradually lowers, reaching its lowest part in the second trimester. After that, it increases again, returning to its normal level by the time you have your baby.
Most of the time, your body can adapt to all these cardiovascular and nervous system changes. But sometimes, it has a hard time keeping up with all these changes. As a result, you may feel faint or lightheaded sometimes. Dizzy spells are a common result of these changes.
Feeling dizzy is normal, but if you actually experience fainting, this might be a sign that something’s wrong, and you’ll want to contact your healthcare provider.
Triggers of Dizziness in Pregnancy
Although dizziness in pregnancy is a common experience, there are a number of triggers which may lead you to become dizzy or feeling faint. Most midwives and caregivers will tell you that you should avoid these triggers to prevent dizziness and lightheadedness.
Standing up too quickly can make you feel faint or dizzy. That’s because when you sit down, blood pools in your legs and lower extremities. When you stand up too fast, your body can’t adjust well, which makes it harder for blood to return from your legs to the heart. Your blood pressure will drop fast, which gives you a dizzy spell.
Sleeping on your back is another trigger that can cause dizziness in pregnancy. In the latter parts of your pregnancy, your expanding uterus constricts blood circulation in your body by compressing a major blood vessel called the inferior vena cave (which transports blood from your legs to your heart). When you sleep on your back, this compresses this vein even further, causing your heart rate to increase and your blood pressure to drop.
To avoid feeling dizzy, you should sleep on your left side. Use a pregnancy pillow to help you sleep better.
Hunger and Dehydration are two other triggers of dizziness in pregnancy. When you’re hungry, you can end up having low blood sugar, which makes you feel dizzy and faint. This is why it’s important that you continue to eat snacks and small meals throughout the day, instead of three large meals.
Make sure that you get plenty to drink during the day too. Dehydration can also give you dizzy spells and make you feel lightheaded.
There are a number of other potential triggers of dizziness in pregnancy, including anemia (not enough red blood cells in your body), and feeling too hot and getting overheated.
When to Call the Doctor about Dizziness or Light-headedness
Dizziness is a normal pregnancy symptom to expect when you’re pregnant, but you should always call your doctor if you are worried about something. If you have persistent dizziness or many bouts of feeling faint, talk to your caregiver.
Sometimes, dizziness that comes with a severe headache, heart palpitations, numbness, or fainting may be a sign of a serious complication. So call your doctor right away.
Dizziness in early pregnancy can be a sign of ectopic pregnancy, especially if it comes with abdominal pain.
Play it safe and contact your doctor whenever you’re worried about anything, or you feel that something is amiss.