Dizziness and lightheadedness is not uncommon during your pregnancy. During this time, your cardiovascular system will undergo some dramatic changes:
- Your heart rate increases
- Your heart pumps more blood per minute and the amount of blood in your body expands by an average of 40-45%
- The capacity of your circulatory system also increases as blood flows to your enlarging uterus and placenta
During pregnancy your blood pressure goes down in the beginning and will reach it’s lowest point in the middle of your pregnancy. It will then go back to it’s normal level by the time you deliver.
Most of the time your cardiovascular and nervous systems are able to adjust appropriately to all these changes, however, there will be the occasional time when they don’t, which will leave you feeling lightheaded or a bit dizzy as a result.
However, if you do actually faint, it could be a sign that something is wrong and you should call your practitioner straight away.
What should you do if you feel lightheaded?
- Lie down as soon as you feel lightheaded or dizzy. If you’re in a place where it’s impossible to lie down, then sit and try to put your head between your knees.
- Lying on your left side will maximize your blood flow to your heart and thus to your brain and this itself will more than likely keep you from actually fainting and probably relieve the sensation of lightheadedness altogether.
Common causes of lightheadedness
- Standing up too fast.
When you stand up suddenly, blood pools in your lower extremities, such as your feet and lower legs. If your body isn’t able to adjust when you stand up and not enough blood returns to your heart from your legs your blood pressure drops quickly.
- Lying on your back.
In your second and third trimesters your growing uterus can slow down blood flow in your legs by compressing the inferior vena cava and the pelvic veins. Lying flat on your black can often make this problem worse.
- Not enough food and drink.
Eating a nutritional diet and drinking water during your pregnancy is extremely important. When you don’t eat correctly or take in enough fluids you can easily end up with low blood sugar or become dehydrated.
Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, so be sure to take your prenatal vitamins, especially in your second and third trimesters. Read our article on Anemia for more information.
Excessive exercise or anxiety can cause you to hyperventilate and feel faint. Although exercise can help your circulation, you must be careful not to overdo it or push yourself too much. If you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy while you are exercising, stop and lie down.
When to call your doctor
You should call your practioner right away if dizziness is accompanied by severe headaches, blurred vision, impaired speech, palpitations, numbness or tingling, bleeding or if you actually faint.