Dizziness During Pregnancy
Dizziness during pregnancy is a fairly normal phenomenon for pregnant women. Occasional dizzy spells do not necessitate hitting the panic button or consult a doctor.
Pregnant women undergo dramatic physiological changes, which lead to disruptions in the flow of blood (low blood pressure) from the lower half to the heart, brain and other vital organs. This induces a feeling of nausea and lightheadedness, which is a temporary condition and can be taken care off by lying down if possible on the left side of the heart. This posture improves blood flow from the heart to all the organs.
The cardiovascular system also changes dramatically in pregnant women. This leads to a significant increase in the rate at which the heart pumps blood per minute, with research pointing out 40-45 increase of blood in the body of pregnant women.During pregnancy the blood pressure decreases gradually in the majority of the women, reaching the minimum point during mid-pregnancy. After this point has been reached, the blood pressure again increases and grows back to normal. The body’s cardio and nervous system are able to cope with the changes admirably during this condition and sufficient blood flows to the brain eventually. But occasionally the body does not cope or adapt quickly enough to the physiological changes induced by onset of pregnancy, which leads to feelings of lightheadedness and dizzy spells and in some cases may also lead to fainting.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF DIZZINESS?
The most common causes of dizziness during pregnancy are:
DYNAMIC OR FAST MOVEMENTS
In the sitting position the blood generally concentrates around the feet and lower legs. When a pregnant lady stands up too fast, there is a delayed release of blood from the legs to the heart, this results in the blood pressure dropping fast, which results in feeling lightheaded.
Quick movement like springing up from the bed or a chair must be avoided at all occasions whatever might be the provocation. When getting up from a supine position, it a good idea to take time to sit up slowly from the bed and remain seated for a few minutes with legs touching the floor. Then slowly rise from the bed to stand. When getting up from a chair, it is necessary to rise slowly with the support of the arms to stand up.
Standing on one’s feet for a long time can also make the blood concentrate in the feet and legs. It is advisable to make small leg movements to enable the blood to flow.
LYING FLAT ON THE BACK
The growing uterus inhibits the blood circulation in the legs by compressing the large vein (Inferior Vena Cava) from the lower part to the heart. This problem becomes worse when pregnant women lie flat on the back. In this position the heart pumps less blood leading to a drop in Blood Pressure, leading to anxiety, nausea and dizziness.
It’s advisable for women to lie on their left with a pillow under the head and a support pillow under the hips. This stops the uterus from compressing the vein.
FOOD & DRINK
Low or infrequent intake of food leads to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which can lead to dizziness during pregnancy or fainting spells. Eating small yet frequent meals regularly during the day, instead of large meals is strictly advised. The idea is to tuck into some snack when feeling hungry, which is quite frequent among pregnant women.
Dehydration or lack of drinking water up to 8-10 glasses per day may also lead to feelings of dizziness during pregnancy.
ANEMIA is a condition when the body does not produce sufficient red blood cells. When the red blood cells in the body do not carry enough oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, an anemic condition results. Anemic women frequently experience dizziness. Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia. A diet rich in iron is highly advisable. Fruits and vegetables containing iron must form part of the diet.
Sometimes taking a hot bath can also lead to feelings of lightheaded, as this causes the blood vessels to dilate and result in lowering the Blood Pressure.
Taking warm showers is advisable.
Pregnant women need lots of fresh air and are best advised to avoid crowded rooms or streets.
Exercise is recommended for pregnant women for a normal delivery. But overdoing it can lead to feelings of dizziness during pregnancy. Exercises should be started slowly and must be done smoothly. The idea is to follow the dictates of the body to know when to stop.
When feeling lightheaded it is highly advised to lie down on the left side till the feeling goes away. When this feeling is experienced while driving, then it is advisable to stop the car and tilt towards ones left side till the feeling goes away. When this spell occurs in a room, it’s advisable to sit down quickly (lest one falls down and gets injured in the process) and put the head between the legs, till the feeling subsides.
WHEN TO PRESS THE PANIC BUTTON OR SEE A DOCTOR
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded occasionally due to hunger, dehydration, heat or fast movements are fairly normal and one does not need to hit the panic button while experiencing these symptoms. But these are some symptoms which do necessitate a visit to a doctor in the case of pregnant women.
If frequent dizziness is accompanied by severe headaches, vision becoming blurred, inability to speak with clarity, heart palpitations, tingling sensation, pain in the chest, shortness of breath or bleeding, then it is highly advisable to call on a doctor or call for medical assistance as these conditions have the potential of affecting the baby.
If abdominal pain is accompanied by dizziness then taking immediate medical attention is necessary.
Dizziness during pregnancy, does not call for emergency medical attention in the majority of the cases and should be taken in stride. But if these spells become increasingly frequent then a visit to a doctor is definitely recommended.