Dizziness and Pregnancy Truth
The reality of pregnancy is not all glowing skin and rubbing bellies (although there is a lot of that.) Dizziness is a common symptom of pregnancy that, much like insomnia, excessive gas, bloating, hemorrhoids and yeast infections, you won’t find splashed across 30ft billboards of radiant pregnant models with all their weight concentrated on a perfectly rounded bump.
Yes, every new-born is a precious gift, but it’s a gift that doesn't come cheap, and it’s your body that ends up paying the price. Dizziness and vertigo are, unfortunately, just one more item on the bill.
If you do experience dizziness and pregnancy, it’s important not to panic, but it’s equally important not to ignore it. Women usually encounter dizzy spells during the first trimester. At this stage, your body is still adapting to the changes involved in creating new life and doesn't yet have enough blood to support an expanding circulatory system.
All the extra hormones floating around cause your blood vessels to relax and widen, which is good for the baby, as it sends more blood his or her way, but bad for you because the blood the baby is getting takes longer to get back to you. (This parent-child relationship will likely evolve in later years, with money substituting blood)
This has the effect of lowering your blood pressure, which can reduce the blood flow to your brain. A shortage of blood flow to the brain creates a fuzzy signal in the reception between the messages being sent to the brain and the messages being received. These messages tell the brain how to analyze the world in front of our eyes, how to align it with our senses, so when the messages are interfered with, how we see the world is interfered with and makes us feel dizzy.
Dizziness is also caused by low blood sugar levels that can occur as your metabolism changes. Women with anemia or varicose veins may be more susceptible to dizziness.
In the second trimester, dizziness usually occurs as your growing uterus puts pressure on blood vessels. In the later stages of pregnancy, dizziness can occur if you lay on your back, which causes the baby to push on the vena cava, the vein that carries blood from the lower body to the heart.
Another possible cause of dizziness during pregnancy is excessive heat. A hot, stuffy room or tight, warm clothes can generate more heat than your body can handle.
Symptoms and treatment
Symptoms of dizziness can be categorized as either lightheadedness or vertigo.
Lightheadedness describes the feeling of faintness whereas vertigo relates to the feeling that the world is spinning around you when in fact, it isn’t.
It's common to feel lightheaded during pregnancy, but if your dizziness persists or actually causes you to faint, get the OK from your doctor to ensure the health of your baby and your peace of mind.
If you’re feeling lightheaded, avoid driving, exercising, or handling dangerous material, then sit down as soon as you start to feel dizzy to eliminate the potential risk of falling over and hurting yourself or the baby.
Elevating your feet is a good way to increase blood flow to your brain. If there’s no place to lie down or sit, kneel on one knee and bend forward as you do when tying your shoe laces.
Few tips for the road
- Avoid heavy, warm materials like wool, leather or suede. Instead wear loose fitting, light material like cotton.
- Keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water, more than 2 liters a day if you are exercising or in extreme heat.
- Don’t get up too quickly from a stationary position
- Carry snacks like fruit or raisins with you that will boost your blood-sugar levels
- Eat protein at every meal to maintain blood-sugar levels.
There is an overwhelming amount of information on dizziness and pregnancy, and it can take hours to sift through them all to weed out the poor quality. My advice would be to look at a compilation of best pregnancy blogs written by Aela Mass, a writer who has featured in The Huffington Post among other notable publications.
She’s basically done the hard work for you and blogs are a great way to get involved in a community specific to your situation. You can find the list here.