Feeling Dizzy or Passing out While Pregnant

Pregnant woman feeling sick and faint
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During pregnancy, your body undergoes a lot of changes, and some of them may make you more apt to feel dizzy or light-headed. Some women even faint during pregnancy. In fact, a common old sitcom trope was to have a woman faint to indicate she was pregnant in the days when pregnancy was not discussed over the airwaves.

While fainting does not happen to every pregnant woman, dizziness is a very common and normal pregnancy symptom. There are many reasons why you may become dizzy during pregnancy, and it is not usually an indication that something is wrong.

Like all unfamiliar pregnancy symptoms, you should talk to your doctor or midwife about it at your next prenatal care appointments. 

Reasons You Might Get Dizzy

One of the things that change drastically in pregnancy is how much cardiac output ramps up. Your heart has to work 30 percent to 50 percent harder during pregnancy—you're building a human after all— and this increased output starts fairly early in gestation. 

As your body adapts to pregnancy, your heart works harder and your blood volume increases to take care of your needs and the needs of your baby.

Sometimes certain positions or conditions may lead to you feel a shift in your blood pressure causing you to feel off balance or out of sorts.

Some reasons that you may be dizzy in pregnancy can include:

Preventing Dizziness 

Sometimes, you can lessen the degree of dizziness you feel. To help avoid feeling dizzy, you need to address the causes that may be adding to the feeling, other than simply being pregnant.

For example, if you are experiencing dizziness when you stand up suddenly, remember to sit up, swing your legs over the side of the bed and sit there for a minute. Stand up after you've gotten your bearings and go so slowly.

You should also make sure that you are always well hydrated and well fed. Many women experience blood sugar fluctuations during pregnancy, so snacking on protein and carbohydrates can help to steady blood sugar. Snacks may work better for some women than bigger meals, particularly in the later trimesters.

Hydration is important for a whole host of reasons in pregnancy. For example, proper hydration can also help prevent you from overheating. While pregnant, you should aim to drink 12, 8-ounce servings of water a day.

What to Do If You Feel Dizzy or Faint

If you feel dizzy, stop what you're doing and sit down, even if it's on the floor. You should not drive, operate heavy machinery or do anything involving balance. Sit down until the spell passes and you no longer feel as though you might pass out. If you can, have someone bring you water and a snack.

For most women, the biggest risk is falling if you actually pass out. This is why it is very important to sit down, even if it's on the floor when you start feeling woozy. Sitting down can help protect you from falling if you were to lose consciousness. 

When to Worry About Dizziness

Dizziness is common, but you should still talk to your healthcare provider about it. If you suffer from mild dizziness, bring it up at your next pregnancy check-up. However, if it occurs frequently or you actually pass out, call your doctor. Dizziness accompanied by slurred speech, disturbed visions, or other worrisome symptoms may be a sign of a more serious problem and you should call your health practitioner right away.

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Article Sources

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  • American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy and Dizziness. http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/dizziness-during-pregnancy/

  • Robson SC, Hunter S, Boys RJ, Dunlop W. Serial study of factors influencing changes in cardiac output during human pregnancy. Am J Physiol. 1989;256(4 Pt 2):H1060-5.

  • Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Sixth Edition.