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Everything You Need To Know About Pregnancy Vertigo

Pregnancy vertigo can be prevented thanks to a couple of safety precautions.

Pregnancy comes with a whirlwind of emotions. As you are trying to come to grips with the fact that yes, you’ll have a baby, and no, you’re not dreaming, you’ll experience all kinds of sensations, from the most rewarding ones (emotion, love) to the not-so-pleasant ones (hello, morning sickness). You might also experience the occasional dizziness, because everything is piling up and it gets overwhelming, so by the time the vertigo really kicks in, you won’t have that much of a strange feeling. Still, this doesn’t turn it into a pleasant one and while vertigo is common during pregnancy, in some cases it is a reason to be concerned.

HOW CAN YOU TELL YOU HAVE VERTIGO?

Pregnancy vertigo is common during pregnancies

Is the room spinning? Is your vision getting numb, making you feel lightheaded? Do you feel like losing balance, unable to stand on your feet? Then there you have it. Sometimes, vertigo can even come with a sensation of nausea or even vomiting. Most of the time, it doesn’t last more than just a few seconds, but there are cases when it can go for hours. Those are the times when you wish children would really be delivered by storks.

WHY DO PREGNANT WOMEN EXPERIENCE VERTIGO?

Well, the easy answer is that Mother Nature likes to test us. Throughout the pregnancy, you might feel at times as if you are about to fall down or faint, because of unsteadiness (dizziness). However, as bad as it sounds, it’s actually a normal and common pregnancy symptom. But why is it happening? Just like most of the body changes during pregnancy, it has to do with hormones. Progesterone increases the blood flow to your baby, while at the same time decreasing the flow to your brain. The combination of low blood pressure and low blood flow is what causes dizziness. Oh, and if you often feel like you have no idea what you are saying, you can blame it on the blood flow. The circulatory system is rapidly expanding (hey, you have at least one tiny person inside!), therefore it’s normal for your body to take some time to adapt before starting to produce more blood. Three months in (second trimester), your growing uterus – which at some point feels like it will never stop growing – can put pressure on the blood vessels as well. A blood sugar drop, which is your body’s attempt to adapt to the new metabolism changes, or dehydration are also causes for dizziness. And do you know how they say that you have a bun in the oven? Well, pregnancy sometimes literally feels like being in an oven; if you find yourself in a hot place wearing tight clothes, you can experience a feeling of dizziness. Women who are anemic or varicose veins have increased chances of getting pregnancy vertigo. Another cause of dizziness is if you often lie on your back while pregnant, which might lead the baby to put pressure on your vena cava (the vein responsible of carrying the blood to your heart).

TRIGGERS

Getting up quickly can be a pregnancy vertigo trigger.

While vertigo can happen any time during pregnancy, many women experience certain triggers. Sometimes, suddenly moving your head in a certain way or getting up too quickly, is enough to make you feel like you head is spinning. Basically, every sudden move like getting up, laying down or switching sides, might provoke it. This is because when you stand up too fast, for instance, the blood won’t return to your heart from your legs fast enough, because your body didn’t have time to adjust. Nice and slow will do the trick.

WAYS TO PREVENT DIZZINESS

Drinking plenty of watter is a way of preventing pregnancy vertigo.

Because dizziness might catch you in moments or places where, if you fall, you might seriously injure yourself and/or the baby, it’s important to know how to deal with this sensation and stop it in its tracks:

  • Elevate your feet, if you want to increase the blood flow to your brain
  • Put your head between your knees. Do you know how they instruct you to do that on airplanes, in case there is an emergency? Bending forward and placing your head between the knees, breathing in and out at a normal pace, definitely helps with controlling the dizziness
  • Compression stockings also improve the blood flow in the lower half of the body
  • Avoid lying flat on your back, because it causes your blood pressure to drop, due to the fact that the heart doesn’t manage to pump enough blood. Instead, try to lie sideways, so that you don’t put pressure on the vena cava
  • If you are prone to vasovagal syncope, pay attention to symptoms like a sudden feeling of warmth, perspiration, hyperventilation or nausea, because they might indicate that the vertigo is on its way. Whenever you feel this kind of uneasiness, lie down immediately
  • Eat enough to avoid hypoglycemia and drink enough, for the same reason. The lack of food and drink might make you feel lightheaded, so try to eat small and frequent meals throughout the day, instead of just having 2-3 big ones. Same thing for the water – try to drink around 8-10, depending on the weather conditions and activity
  • Have an iron-rich diet and take vitamins if you suffer from anemia. Anemia reduces the number of red blood cells responsible with carrying oxygen to your brain, so it’s important to get all the supplements you need, because you are more vulnerable to fainting
  • Heat dilates the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure, so make sure not to take hot baths for long periods of time or even worse, spend time in a sauna, because if you feel too hot, you’ll get dizzy in no time. Opt for warm showers/baths instead of hot ones
  • Avoid hyperventilation by cutting down on your exercise routine. While exercising does help your circulation, if you don’t know when to stop, you might feel like fainting after a while. As always, stop whenever you feel uneasy and avoid excesses
  • Don’t stand up for long periods of time. If your feet aren’t moving, you are stopping the circulation
  • Wear comfortable clothes not just to avoid feeling hot, but also to improve the circulation
  • Fresh air always helps. Being crammed – not so. Overcrowded spaces, like buses or stores, can trigger vertigo, so try to go outside for walks. They don’t have to be long, but just enough to give you a feeling of tranquility. The outdoor air also helps relieve other pregnancy symptoms (edema, constipation).

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU’RE EXPERIENCING VERTIGO?

If you feel like you’re about to faint any time, do the following:

  • Sit down and lower your head
  • Remove extra clothing items or loosen those that are too tight
  • Open the windows and try to get some fresh air
  • Have an iron-rich diet
  • Breathe deeply

WHEN SHOULD YOU GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER?

If you xperience frequent pregnancy vertigo, get in touch with your health provider.

You should contact your doctor if the dizziness doesn’t come alone. If it’s accompanied by abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, you might be having an ectopic pregnancy or other pregnancy-related issues. In an ectopic pregnancy, unlike in a normal one, the fertilized egg remains in the Fallopian tube, instead of moving to the uterus. This happens in 1 of every 50 pregnancies and in some cases, the egg even sticks to your ovaries or even cervix. This is a serious reason for concern, requiring urgent treatment. Ectopic pregnancies are usually discovered within the two months of your pregnancy. If the symptoms accompanying your vertigo are strong, like severe headaches, palpitations or blurred vision, it’s recommended to get in touch with your health care provider, because you might need treatment for severe anemia or these issues might indicate that the pregnancy isn’t running so smoothly. You should inform your doctor about any dizziness which is persistent – even if you might not have anything severe, it doesn’t hurt to be safe.

While dizziness is a common occurrence during pregnancy, it needs to be taken seriously, no matter how long it lasts or how often it hits you. Avoid being hyperactive and use your common sense to stay safe. Driving is a no-go if you experience fainting symptoms, as well as other physically-demanding activities. Avoid any potentially dangerous activities – relax, take it easy and enjoy the pregnancy. And if these months are way too bumpy to be enjoyed, just think of how you’ll find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Once the baby is in your arms, everything else will be forgotten.

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