Most people – men, women, young adults, etc. – know of dizziness as a common symptom of pregnancy, thanks to Bollywood that shows every woman either puking or fainting as a means to announce that she is pregnant! But there is more to dizziness during pregnancy than just taking a dramatic exit from the scene! Dizziness can affect women during pregnancy enough to immobilize them or restrict free movement significantly (for fear of falling down and harming themselves or the baby). Let’s learn more about dizziness during pregnancy – why it happens, how to recognise it, and how to manage it.
What is Dizziness During Early Pregnancy
Dizziness is when you feel like you are about to faint, or lose consciousness, or like you cannot stand straight. When you feel all these symptoms during pregnancy, they are collectively called dizziness during pregnancy.
Dizziness during pregnancy is a very common phenomenon that affects most pregnant women. The first time a woman experiences dizziness during her pregnancy may vary, however (as can the extent of dizziness experienced). Commonly, dizziness is experienced in week 12 of pregnancy at the earliest.
However, in complicated pregnancies (or if the mother is weak, or not taking good prenatal care of herself), dizziness may set in earlier.
Causes of Dizziness During Early Pregnancy
While dizziness during early pregnancy is common, it should not be neglected as ‘just another routine pregnancy symptom’. Here are some of its most common causes.
1. Morning sickness
When you throw up the food you have consumed, blood sugar levels get messed. A sudden drop in your blood sugar levels can make you feel dizzy.
When you are pregnant your body goes into overdrive, trying to synthesise and produce everything your baby needs, most importantly, blood. The body’s energies are all directed towards providing for the baby. This overdrive can make you feel depleted of nutrition - especially iron deficiency
- and can cause you to feel dizzy.
With way too many things being piled on your plate by well-meaning relatives that want you to ‘eat for two’, you may at times be too stuffed to drink enough water. This can cause dehydration, which manifests most commonly as dizziness.
The different body processes that are all doing overtime now, lead to a lot of heat being generated in the body. Along with making you feel hot all the time, this excess of body heat can also make you feel dizzy! Closed and crowded rooms can add to this discomfort and aggravate the dizziness.
5. Excessive Cardiac Activity
In order to keep all body processes running at optimum levels, the heart has to work twice as hard to pump blood and ensure it reaches every corner of the body. This increased cardiac activity can also cause dizziness.
Excessive cardiac activity can make you breather harder and faster. This is called hyperventilation. In the body, hyperventilation leads to the production of carbon monoxide, which can make you feel dizzy.
7. Specific Triggers
Sometimes certain foods may not agree with a pregnant woman. Strong odours can also trigger dizziness. Finally, any kind of medication that the woman is on, may not agree with her; this can happen as an exception during pregnancy (even if it is a regular medicine that the woman is accustomed to taking).
Later in the pregnancy, the pressure exerted by the growing uterus can constrict your blood vessels, restricting blood supply to one or more body parts, and lead to dizziness. One step before you feel dizzy, you may notice that certain body parts have gone cold or numb (due to lack of sufficient blood supply). Take this as a sign of the on-coming dizziness.
Symptoms of Dizziness During Early Pregnancy
Dizziness during early pregnancy is pretty much like the dizziness you would experience under any other circumstance. Here are some of the common ways in which you may experience dizziness.
- Your hands and feet may go cold.
- You may be unable to see clearly.
- You may break out in a sweat, even in ambient room conditions.
- You may have trouble reading.
- You may be unable to walk in a straight line, or just stand up straight.
- You may feel like you cannot support your own weight and need to lean on things or people for support.
- You may find it hard to focus on what you are doing, or what somebody is saying.
- You may feel sleepy and lazy.
- You may also feel mildly nauseous.
Apart from the above symptoms, it is advisable to look out for accompanying symptoms that may indicate a more serious concern: vaginal bleeding (could indicate a miscarriage), high blood-pressure (could indicate preeclampsia), etc.
How to Deal with Dizziness During Early Pregnancy?
There are several things you can do to manage dizziness during pregnancy. Managing dizziness during pregnancy has a two-fold approach: treatment, and prevention.
First Aid for Dizziness During Early Pregnancy
First and foremost you need to know what to do when you feel dizzy. Here are some tips.
- Sit down wherever you are.
- Practice deep breathing – take long and deep breaths, and release them slowly. This technique will also help you tackle shortness of breath during pregnancy.
- If possible, rest your back and head on a solid surface.
- If you are wearing multiple layers of clothes, try and take one off.
- Drink a glass of water – but make sure not to gulp it down in one go.
- Make sure the room you are in is well aerated.
- If you are out in the sun, get indoors, or at least try to find some shade.
- Try to recollect what time did you have your last meal; if it’s been more than 3 hours, have a healthy snack (like a fruit) or a meal.
- If you are on any kind of medication, make sure you haven’t missed your dose.
- If there is any specific trigger that you are aware of (that causes you to feel dizzy), get away from it. This could be anything from loud noises to bright lights.
Preventing Dizziness During Early Pregnancy
Next, you need to know how to avoid feeling dizzy (as much as you can!). Here are some prevention tips.
- Do not skip meals. Try and get creative with your food so that the monotony is lost. As long as you eat healthy and hygienic food, anything is pretty much okay.
- Get your iron levels checked. Anaemia can seriously affect your pregnancy – including your health, as well as that of your baby.
- Ensure you drink enough water. Hydration is very important in general, more so for pregnant women. Drink at least 3 litres of water every day.
- Stay away from direct exposure to sunlight, especially between noon and 5 pm. The sun is at its strongest and brightest right now and becomes an easy trigger of dizziness. If you must step out, make sure you keep your head covered at all times and wear appropriate clothing.
- Always carry a snack and a bottle of water in your purse when stepping out.
- Avoid your specific triggers (particular odours, foods, environments, etc.).
- If you are on any medication, always ensure you keep to the times and do not miss any doses.
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While a very routine and minor complication of pregnancy, dizziness can quickly escalate into an emergency, if timely help is not received. Keep the above tips in mind, and you will be able to breeze through! Good luck!