Dizziness While Pregnant
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Dizzy spells are a common symptom of pregnancy and often occur in the first trimester, but may continue until the third trimester. In fact, along with morning sickness and sore breasts, dizziness is often one of the first early signs of pregnancy. Generally, dizzy or shaky spells do not indicate a serious condition and are unharmful to mothers or babies. Dizziness comes in various form's, but the most common symptom is a feeling of moving or spinning while standing still. Sometimes this is accompanied by loss of balance and nausea without vomiting, similar to vertigo. An 'attack' can last for a few minutes, or up to several hours.
Those pesky hormones again! Throughout pregnancy, high levels of progesterone cause blood vessels to relax. This has the effect of allowing extra blood to flow through the veins (in fact an increase of up to 50 percent), towards the developing embryo. At the same time, it slows the return of blood to the mother. Result? Reduced blood flow leads to reduced blood pressure, a common cause of temporary faintness.
A woman's metabolism changes during pregnancy and dizziness may be a direct consequence of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Women with types 1 or 2 diabetes are more susceptible than others. For those who are not diabetic, there is a 4 to 8 percent of risk of developing gestational diabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are too high. This condition requires close medical attention, but fortunately in most cases, it disappears after birth. For more about caring for your baby in the formative months, see our prenatal care guide.
By the second trimester, the expanding uterus can put pressure on surrounding blood vessels, causing dizziness. By the third trimester, it may be the weight of the baby causing the problem. When the mother lies on her back this shifts the weight of the baby to put pressure on her vena cava (one of the big veins), which may also cause more dizzy spells.
A woman's iron requirements increase significantly during pregnancy. Iron is required for the production of red blood cells, the growing fetus and placenta. However, as most women start their pregnancy with insufficient iron supplies, their body is not normally able to meet the demand - particularly by the second and third trimester. This leads to anemia in pregnancy: increased tiredness or extreme fatigue and fainting spells. Note: It is possible to develop anemia by not getting enough vitamin B12 or folic acid, although this is less common.
Too much exercise, stress or anxiety can cause hyperventilation which leads to faintness. Although exercise is important for maintaining a healthy body during pregnancy, try not to over do it. If you are stressed or anxious, consider joining a pregnancy yoga class, or having an alternative therapy, such as massage or aromatherapy.
Heat, triggered by stuffy offices or crowds can cause dizzy spells. Sometimes dehydration due to excess sweating can be a factor, so ensure you drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day. Women with pregnancy induced varicose veins are also more likely to suffer fainting spells as well as those with severe morning sickness type symptoms, a condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
If your blood pressure is low, sudden movements such as standing up or sitting down can cause a dizzy spell. So act slowly!
Eat plenty of iron-rich foods and take a prenatal vitamin with iron (folic acid and B12), especially in the last two pregnancy trimesters. If you become anemic, you may be prescribed an additional iron supplement.
Eat smaller meals, more regularly throughout the day. This will help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Snack on Low GI foods such as cereal bars and whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese. Eating a large meal can cause a blood sugar spike and lead to dizziness.
Eat plenty of foods high in dietary fiber. This will not only help to prevent constipation in pregnancy, but will also decrease the amount of insulin your body requires to keep blood sugars level. Fiber is best found in vegetables, cereals and whole grain breads and pasta.
• Sit down and push your head between your knees.
Feeling light headed as a result of rising from a chair too quickly or being overheated is just a normal part of pregnancy. However, if you ever feel uncontrollably dizzy then contact your pregnancy healthcare team immediately. Also see your healthcare provider if:
• Dizziness is accompanied by sharp abdominal pains and vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. This is a common sign of pregnancy complications, in particular ectopic pregnancies, a low-lying placenta and placental abruption.
Always be sure to report any fainting, light headiness or dizzy spells to your healthcare provider during your prenatal visits.
|Articles on FEELING FAINT WHILE PREGNANT
For more pregnancy related issues, see the following:
• Travel During Pregnancy - When is the safest time to fly?
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