It’s common to experience dizziness during pregnancy. Dizziness can make you feel like the room is spinning — called vertigo — or it may make you feel faint, unsteady, or weak.
You should always discuss dizziness and other symptoms with your doctor. In some cases, you may require immediate medical attention.
Read on to learn about the possible reasons for dizziness in pregnancy, and what you can do to manage this symptom.
Several factors may contribute to dizziness in the first trimester.
Changing hormones and lowering blood pressure
As soon as you become pregnant, your hormone levels change to help increase the blood flow in your body. This helps the baby develop in utero.
Increased blood flow can cause your blood pressure to change. Often, your blood pressure will drop during pregnancy, also known as hypotension or low blood pressure.
Low blood pressure can cause you to feel dizzy, especially when moving from lying down or sitting to standing.
Your doctor will check your blood pressure at your prenatal appointments to monitor your blood pressure. Generally, lower blood pressure is not a cause for concern and it will return to normal levels after pregnancy.
Dizziness could occur if you have extreme nausea and vomiting in your pregnancy, known as hyperemesis gravidarum. This often occurs early in pregnancy because of your changing hormone levels.
If you have this condition, you may be unable to keep down food or water, resulting in dizziness and weight loss.
To treat this condition, your doctor may:
- recommend a particular diet
- hospitalize you so you can receive extra fluids and be monitored
- prescribe a medication
You may experience relief from this condition during your second trimester or encounter symptoms throughout your pregnancy.
Dizziness can result from an ectopic pregnancy. This occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself in your reproductive system outside of the uterus. Many times, it implants in your fallopian tubes.
When this condition occurs, the pregnancy isn’t viable. You may experience dizziness as well as pain in your abdomen and vaginal bleeding. Your doctor will have to perform a procedure or prescribe a medication to remove the fertilized egg.
Some of the reasons you experience dizziness in the first trimester may carry over to the second trimester, like low blood pressure or hyperemesis gravidarum. There are other conditions that may arise as your pregnancy progresses.
Pressure on your uterus
You may experience dizziness if the pressure from your growing uterus presses on your blood vessels. This can occur in the second or third trimester, and is more common when the baby is large.
Lying on your back can also cause dizziness. That’s because lying on your back later in pregnancy can cause your expanding uterus to block blood flow from your lower extremities to your heart. This can cause dizziness as well as other concerning symptoms.
Sleep and rest on your side to prevent this blockage from occurring.
You may experience dizziness with gestational diabetes if your blood sugar gets too low. Gestational diabetes occurs when your hormones affect the way your body produces insulin.
Your doctor will likely recommend testing for gestational diabetes between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy. If diagnosed with the condition, you’ll have to monitor your blood sugar regularly, and stick to a strict diet and exercise plan.
Dizziness, along with other symptoms like sweating, shakiness, and headaches, may indicate that your blood sugar is low. To boost it, you’ll need to eat a snack like a piece of fruit or a few pieces of hard candy. Check your sugar levels after several minutes to make sure they’re in the normal range.
Many of the causes of dizziness in the first and second trimesters can cause the same symptom later in your pregnancy. It’s important that you see your doctor regularly in the third trimester to monitor potentially dangerous conditions that can cause dizziness.
Watch for signs of feeling faint to avoid falling, especially during your third trimester. Stand up slowly and reach for support to avoid lightheadedness, and make sure to sit as often as you can to avoid long periods of standing.
There are some causes that may cause dizziness at any time during your pregnancy. These conditions aren’t tied to a specific trimester.
In addition to dizziness, anemia may cause you to feel tired, become pale, or feel short of breath.
You may develop anemia at any time during pregnancy. If you do, your doctor can take blood tests throughout your pregnancy to measure your iron levels and monitor the condition. They may recommend iron or folic acid supplements.
Dehydration can occur at any point in your pregnancy. You may experience it in the first trimester if you’re nauseous or vomiting. You may encounter dehydration later in pregnancy because your body requires more water.
You should drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day in early pregnancy, and increase that amount as you add more calories to your diet, generally in the second and third trimesters. This may increase your water intake by per day.
There are several ways you can avoid or lessen dizziness when pregnant:
- Limit long periods of standing.
- Make sure to keep moving when you’re standing to increase circulation.
- Take your time getting up from sitting or lying down.
- Avoid lying on your back in the second and third trimester.
- Eat healthy food frequently to avoid low blood sugar.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Wear breathable, comfortable clothing.
- Take supplements and medications as recommended by your doctor to treat conditions that cause dizziness.
Always let your OB-GYN know about any dizziness you experience during pregnancy. That way your doctor can take necessary steps to diagnose any conditions causing the symptom.
If the dizziness is sudden or severe, or if you experience other symptoms with dizziness, seek medical help immediately.
Concerning symptoms during pregnancy include:
- vaginal bleeding
- stomach pain
- severe swelling
- heart palpitations
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- severe headaches
- vision problems
Dizziness is a common symptom of pregnancy and many different factors can cause it. Let your doctor or midwife know if you’re experiencing dizziness. They can run any necessary tests and monitor you to make sure that you and your baby are healthy.
Your healthcare provider can also help you find ways to reduce the symptom, depending on the underlying cause. Avoiding long periods of standing or lying on your side and keeping your body nourished with healthy foods and plenty of water may help you reduce periods of dizziness.