Dizziness During Pregnancy: 7 Causes (& What to Do)

Dizziness during pregnancy is a relatively common symptom in early pregnancy and often occurs due to normal hormonal changes and increased blood flow in the woman's body. These changes are necessary to create a healthy environment for the baby's development, however they can lead to drops in blood pressure and dizziness.

Dizziness can also occur in pregnancy due to dehydration, hypoglycemia or anemia. If you are pregnant and feel dizzy, you should sit down immediately to reduce the risk of falling and injuring. Take several deep breaths and try to relax. 

It is important to attend all prenatal consultations to assess both your and the baby's health status throughout pregnant. Be sure to consult your OBGYN if you frequently experience dizziness, especially if it appears with symptoms like blurred vision, headache or palpitations.

Pregnant woman sitting and holding head

What causes dizziness during pregnancy?

The main causes of dizziness during pregnancy are:

1. Hormonal changes

Dizziness can appear in the first few weeks of pregnancy due to normal hormonal changes like increased beta-HCG, progesterone and estrogen levels. These hormones increase blood flow in the woman's body and play a role in adapting the woman's uterus for pregnancy.

These changes can lead to drops in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness, especially after standing up too quickly.

What to do: You can help to reduce dizziness by getting up slowly after lying down or sitting for more than 15 minutes, and avoiding long periods of standing. However, if the dizziness does not improve, becomes more intense, or if you also experience symptoms like abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, seek urgent medical attention.

2. Hyperemesis gravidarum

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe form of vomiting during pregnancy, in which the woman vomits several times throughout the day for weeks. It can cause dizziness, nausea that does not improve, stomach pain, frequent vomiting, fatigue or loss of appetite, which can compromise nutritional or hydration status.

This condition is more common in women who have a family history of hyperemesis gravidarum or with twin pregnancies.

What to do: hyperemesis gravidarum should be treated by an OBGYN, with medications that can help reduce vomiting, such as metoclopramide. Severe cases may require hospitalization or IV fluids and nausea medications.

3. Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo develops outside the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tubes. It can cause intense cramping on just one side of the belly which worsens with movement. .

Cramps from an ectopic pregnancy can also cause symptoms such as dizziness, vaginal bleeding, pain during sex, nausea, vomiting or fainting.

What to do: If you notice symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, you should seek urgent medical attention for assessment and diagnosis. Treatment typically involves surgical removal of the embryo.

4. Dehydration

Dehydration can appear at any stage of pregnancy as a result of low fluid intake or excessive sweating and mineral losses from high temperatures. This condition is characterized by symptoms like dizziness, excessive thirst, dry mouth, intense headache and fatigue.

Furthermore, pregnant women can also experience dehydration due to morning sickness, hyperemesis gravidarum, diarrhea or even kidney failure.

What to do: Wear loose clothing to relieve any discomfort caused by excessive heat and reduce sweat production. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking around 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. In more serious cases of dehydration, hospitalization may be necessary for IV fluids and medications.

5. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia is a sharp decrease in glucose, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, tremor, weakness, cold sweat, pale skin, blurred vision, heart palpitations, chest pain, anxiety, mental confusion, difficulty speaking or drowsiness.

This sharp decrease in blood sugar levels can occur due to not eating for a long time, engaging in excessive physical activity without medical advice, or due to diabetes and the use of antidiabetic medications during pregnancy.

What to do: Eat in small quantities at intervals of less than 2 to 3 hours to help prevent hypoglycemia. However, if you notice  symptoms appear of low blood sugar, you should ingest around 15 g of carbohydrates, such as natural orange juice, a piece of hard candy or chocolate. 

It is important to consult an OBGYN if you experience symptoms of low blood sugar so that diabetes can be investigated through a blood test.

Also recommended: 9 Signs of Gestational Diabetes to Monitor During Pregnancy tuasaude.com/en/signs-of-gestational-diabetes

6. Low iron diet

Dizziness during pregnancy can also arise due to a diet that is low in iron and folic acid. This can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which is characterized by a decreased production of red blood cells. These are responsible for transporting oxygen to other tissues and to the baby.

Iron deficiency anemia can occur at any stage of pregnancy, and can lead to the appearance of other symptoms such as excessive tiredness, paleness or shortness of breath. It is usually is detected through prenatal tests that measure the amount of iron in the blood.

Also recommended: 10 Anemia Symptoms That May Mean You Have Low Hemoglobin tuasaude.com/en/anemia-symptoms

What to do: Treatment for iron deficiency anemia should be directed by an OBGYN and typically involves the use of iron and folic acid supplements. You should also increase your intake of iron-rich foods, like lentils, parsley, beans and meat red. Check-out a list of iron-rich foods you can include in your diet.

Also recommended: Foods for Anemia: What to Eat & Avoid (plus a 3-Day Meal Plan) tuasaude.com/en/foods-for-anemia

7. Uterine pressure on surrounding blood vessels

Dizziness during pregnancy can also appear in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, due to the pressure that the uterus can exert on surrounding blood vessels, especially when you lie on your back.

This occurs because the baby's weight on the vena cava can make it difficult for blood to return from the legs to the heart, leading to dizziness.

What to do: One way to prevent dizziness is to lie on your side facing your left side, or to lie in bed with a high pillow under your legs. This prevents the pressure of the uterus on surrounding blood vessels and promotes the blood return to the heart. However, if the dizziness does not improve, it is important to consult an obstetrician to assess whether there is another cause.

When to see a doctor

It is important to consult an obstetrician when dizziness is frequent or is associated with other symptoms, such as:

  • Blurry vision
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Cold sweats
  • Pallor
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intense cramps
  • Swelling
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Lethargy.

Furthermore, if dizziness appears suddenly or is severe, you should proceed to the nearest emergency room immediately for assessment and treatment as necessary.