Fainting and dizziness during pregnancy

According to the American Pregnancy Association, dizziness and fainting are very common during pregnancy as a result of the drastic hormonal and metabolic changes the body goes through during the first trimester (1). These changes can lower the mother’s blood pressure or blood sugar, causing dizziness and faintness. In the second trimester, the mother may feel faint because the growing uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels. In the third trimester she may be dizzy as a result of the weight of the baby on these important blood vessels as well.

Dizziness and fainting have long been thought of as common conditions of pregnancy. However, if fainting is accompanied by pain in the abdomen or vaginal bleeding, it could be a sign of placental abruption, ectopic pregnancy, or low-lying placenta (1). Persistent dizziness or dizziness accompanied by blurred vision, palpitations, or headaches are all alarming symptoms as well, and could be signs of anemia. Thus, fainting and dizziness should be mentioned to your doctor, especially in cases of those other concerning signs.

Tips for dealing with dizziness and fainting during pregnancy

Though feelings of dizziness and faintness are common during pregnancy, they can be disruptive to your lifestyle, affect your mental health, cause injury, or be a sign of something more severe. Always talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

The following are a few ways to reduce feelings of dizziness and faintness during pregnancy (1):

  • Get up slowly from sitting or lying down
  • Limit or avoid hot baths or showers
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Avoid lying on your back after the beginning of the second trimester
  • Eat often, snacking between meals
  • Avoid standing for long periods
  • Increase iron intake

Recent research on fainting

A May 2019 study done by a University of Alberta senior epidemiologist and a University of Calgary cardiology trainee was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (2). The study used birth records of 481,930 babies born between 2005 and 2014 in Alberta.

The study found that roughly 1 percent of women fainted during pregnancy. Those women who fainted experienced (2):

  • Higher rates of heart problems
  • Higher rates of preterm birth
  • Higher risk of fainting episodes down the road

Babies of women who fainted more than once were found to be at increased risk of congenital anomalies such as low birth weight.

The epidemiologist on the study, Padma Kaul, believes fainting should be put on par with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other high-risk conditions due to the adverse and potentially dangerous effects (2). Women should most certainly inform their doctors of fainting during pregnancy.

Further studies are required to establish whether the fainting or the conditions associated with the fainting came first. That is to say, a study like this finds correlation between the two — enough correlation to encourage further testing and recommendations that women keep their doctors abreast of fainting spells — but it does not imply that one condition causes the other. More studies are needed down the road to confirm causation.

Disclaimer

ABC Law Centers is not run by medical professionals or associated with a medical facility. The above information should not be taken as medical advice. Always contact a medical professional when you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or any other concerning symptoms of pregnancy.

Sources:

  1. Dizziness During Pregnancy: Causes and Prevention. (2016, January 27). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/dizziness-during-pregnancy/
  2. Fainting during pregnancy can be a sign of problems for both mother and baby. (2019, May 28). Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/05/190528145631.htm

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