Have you started feeling light-headed throughout the day and you’re not sure why?
Are you trying for a baby and wondering why you’re feeling a little woozy?
Or have you just found out you’re pregnant and worried you feel lightheaded?
If you’ve started to feel a little dizzy it’s important for you to get it investigated, especially if you’re pregnant.
Some causes of dizziness are easily fixed and some are much more serious conditions.
Here we will explore dizziness in pregnancy, what the causes might be, and what to do about it.
Dizziness in pregnancy
Dizziness is a very normal pregnancy symptom. But it’s also one that’s less common than the typical morning sickness or fatigue.
Dizziness or lightheadedness can make you feel like the room is spinning (vertigo) or it can make you feel weak and unsteady.
But it can also be a sign something isn’t quite right.
As you get to know your changing body much better, you’ll be able to pinpoint what’s going on to make you feel dizzy.
Is dizziness a sign of pregnancy?
If you haven’t taken a home pregnancy test to confirm whether you’re pregnant or not, your dizziness could be trying to tell you something.
Dizziness can happen because of hormonal changes and changes in your blood volume. If you’re feeling dizzy, maybe you should take a pregnancy test.
Dizziness in early pregnancy before missed period
After ovulation, progesterone levels rise to support a possible pregnancy. If you become pregnant, progesterone levels keep going up.
If an egg is fertilized and implants into the uterus, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is produced, and that means another surge of hormones for you to manage.
These sudden changes in hormones can cause dizziness – even before you’ve missed your period. It’s likely and perfectly reasonable, you might not be aware you could be pregnant.
Dizziness in early pregnancy 1 week
In our week-by-week pregnancy guide, you can find out what’s normal for this time.
It’s interesting to determine when week 1 of pregnancy actually is. Technically, in the first week of your ‘pregnancy’, you’re not even pregnant!
Read more about this confusing but interesting information in our article 1 Week Pregnant – The First Week Of Pregnancy.
Dizziness during pregnancy
In many cases, dizziness during pregnancy is a normal occurrence and nothing to worry about.
However, there are more serious conditions that could be triggering your dizziness. That’s why it’s important you tune in to your body and pay attention.
Seek help from your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your dizziness.
Let’s look at 9 causes of dizziness when you are pregnant:
#1: Hormonal changes
As mentioned earlier, hormones can play havoc with your system.
Levels of progesterone, relaxin, and hCG are all rising. These hormones are necessary to support your placenta and baby.
They act to expand blood vessels, increase blood volume, and increase blood flow. Their effect on your body, however, can leave you dizzy.
#2: Blood pressure
Blood pressure is the force your blood exerts on the artery walls or the heart.
With the increase in blood flow and blood volume in pregnancy come blood pressure changes. During pregnancy, your care provider will be watching your blood pressure and making sure it doesn’t change too dramatically.
Big changes in your blood pressure can mean not enough oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the placenta and to your baby.
Low blood pressure (hypotension) isn’t generally serious but restriction in your blood vessels can cause lightheadedness or, more seriously, fainting. There’s some research to suggest hypotension can lead to low birth weight.
Avoid getting up too quickly from a sitting or lying down position, as it can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly.
High blood pressure (hypertension) in pregnant women can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia.
It’s important to know the signs it is worsening. They include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurry vision or flashing lights
- Puffy face, hands, and feet
- Upper right side abdominal pain
- Reduced urine output
- Changes in reflexes.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek urgent medical help.
#3: Blood sugar levels
Fluctuation in blood sugar levels can cause dizziness in a few different ways.
Insulin helps the body to process glucose (a type of sugar) into energy. If there’s too much glucose in the blood, due to a processing problem, it can cause serious health problems.
When the body can’t create its own insulin to help break down sugar, it’s a condition known as type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is when some insulin is produced but it just isn’t enough.
Diabetes can also appear during pregnancy as the hormones promote insulin resistance.
Read about Gestational Diabetes – Diet and Symptoms.
A low blood sugar level in your circulation causes dizziness during pregnancy.
Try not to go for long periods without nourishing yourself. Have a healthy snack at regular intervals throughout the day if you are struggling to eat larger meals. Choose protein and healthy fats over processed carbs; they will help keep your blood sugar level stable.
Making sure your sugar levels are controlled is the key to keeping dizziness at bay.
Your health care provider can guide you if you already have gestational diabetes, or are diagnosed with this condition.
Anemia is otherwise known as iron deficiency. We need iron to make hemoglobin, which is a protein in the red blood cells that helps transport oxygen to the cells in the body.
If the body is lacking in iron, the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough hemoglobin. In turn, there won’t be enough hemoglobin in the blood to transport oxygen to major organs such as the brain and heart.
Iron can also be stored (as ferritin) for backup if the levels of blood circulating in the body drop.
A lack of iron can leave you feeling faint, with lightheadedness and less energy.
#5: The vena cava
The vena cava is the main vein running through the uterus that returns blood flow from the lower half of the body to the heart.
Lying on your back can restrict the blood flow through your system, as the weight of your baby and uterus puts pressure on this vein. It can cause you to feel dizzy when you first stand up and, in later pregnancy when you’re lying down.
Your doctor will recommend you change sleeping positions in pregnancy once your belly starts to poke out. Sleeping on your side, rather than your back, helps keep the circulation flowing well to your little one and will reduce your dizziness.
Compression stockings for your legs can also provide comfort and improve circulation.
If you’re experiencing discomfort, it can cause dizziness during pregnancy.
Any painful sensations during pregnancy can cause stress, interrupt your sleep, and make you feel anxious. This can increase the heart rate and cause shortness of breath and could be the reason you are having dizzy spells.
Try to find the source of any discomfort you experience, or see your trusted care provider for support in finding relief.
If the pain is severe, especially if it also involves vaginal bleeding, seek immediate medical assistance.
#7: Morning sickness
Feeling nausea or vomiting in the mornings, or for that matter, at any time of day?
Morning sickness is a typical pregnancy symptom and can be the cause of dizziness for some women, even in a healthy pregnancy.
It’s common in the first trimester but, as pregnancy progresses, it can continue into the second and third trimesters.
Hyperemesis gravidarum is a more serious form of morning sickness and dizziness can occur due to dehydration and weight loss from not being able to hold down food and fluids.
Make sure you visit your doctor if you feel dizzy and can’t stop vomiting. You might be able to take some medication that will help, or you might need IV hydration.
Going long periods without fluids can cause dizziness during pregnancy. Dehydration often kicks in well before you feel thirsty and you might start to feel faint.
You might be drinking less in an attempt to stop needing to wee all the time, another common pregnancy symptom. If you live in a hot, humid climate you’ll sweat more and dehydrate faster.
Be sure to read Electrolytes During Pregnancy – 9 Important Reasons To Have Them for more information.
Instead of restricting your fluid intake, fill a large bottle with water, and take sips from it frequently during the day. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink!
#9: Excessive exercise
Doctors recommend keeping fit and healthy during pregnancy throughout the first, second and third trimesters. Exercise during pregnancy has many positive benefits for you and your baby.
Too much strenuous exercise, however, can cause pregnant women to feel faint or dizzy. This is especially true if you’re just starting to exercise, or haven’t exercised for a while.
Go slowly and build your fitness gradually. Be mindful of your limits as your body changes.
Try alternating some moderate exercise, like swimming or walking, with yoga, so you can enjoy the benefits without dizziness.
When should I be worried about dizziness during pregnancy?
You’re still feeling dizzy and, despite making changes to address the causes, nothing has changed.
It’s time to reach out to your healthcare professional to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on.
Your doctor can take your health history, organize relevant blood tests, if required, and investigate further for you.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s early in your pregnancy or you’re in your second or third trimester; pregnancy dizziness that doesn’t resolve should be taken seriously, and your doctor needs to know.