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Fainting during pregnancy

Most pregnant women complain about lightheadedness and dizziness. It is not uncommon to see a pregnant woman faint, especially at the beginning of the pregnancy. The body of a pregnant woman, especially her cardiovascular system, changes significantly. The heart rate elevates, the heart pumps more blood and the amount of blood increases by 40-45 percent.

In a normal course of pregnancy, blood pressure is decreased in the beginning and it is lowest in the middle of the pregnancy. After that point, it begins to rise and finally returns to normal levels by the end of the pregnancy.

Bodies aren’t always able to adjust and react to these changes properly. That is why, many of the pregnant women feel lightheaded and dizzy.

However, fainting may be a sign that something isn’t right and a woman should consult a doctor if this happens.

Causes

There are many different causes that may provoke this unpleasant feeling in pregnant women. Here are some of them:

Standing up too fast may cause a significant and rapid drop in blood pressure. This happens even to the people who are not pregnant because when we sit, blood pools in lower extremities and body isn’t always ready to adjust if one suddenly stands up. However, this can be prevented by slowly rising from sitting to standing.

Lying on the back may also provoke a feeling of dizziness. In second and third trimester growing uterus slows the circulation in the legs so that when pregnant women lie on their back the heart rate increases and the blood pressure drops. This can be prevented by lying on the side rather than on the back.

Improper diet and liquid intake may result in a dizzy feeling especially in pregnant women. Insufficient nutrition leads to low blood sugar levels while dehydration adds to the effect. Small frequent meals and eight to ten glasses of water should become a regular habit.

Anemia means lower red cells count and reduced ability to carry oxygen to the brain and other organs. This may result in feeling of lightheadedness.
Anemia occurs mostly because of the iron deficiency. It is important to add enough iron to the daily diet, especially in the second and third trimester.

Getting overheated may dilate the blood vessels and lower the blood pressure, making one dizzy. Pregnant women should avoid crowded places and dress in layers. Warm showers and baths are recommended.

Hyperventilation that often follows excessive exercise or anxiety may provoke the feeling of fainting. It is important to control the pace of the exercise and not to overdo it.

Vasovagal response, triggered in some people when they strain to cough, urinate, or have a bowel movement, may also decrease the blood pressure and lead to dizziness and fainting.

Self-help methods

No matter what causes the feeling of lightheadedness and dizziness, it is important to lie down as soon as one experiences discomfort. By doing so one may prevent falls and related injuries. It is advised to lie on the left side and thus maximize the blood flow to the heart and brain.  A pregnant woman may also sit down and try to put her head between the knees.

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