Women's  Healthcare Topics is a website about pregnancy and your newborn baby.

Feeling Faint is Common in Early Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Fainting Should be an Early Sign of Pregnancy

Experiencing some light-headedness or faint when you are pregnant is a very common occurrence, and it should not cause you to worry too much.

Experiencing some light-headedness or faint when you are pregnant is a very common occurrence, and it should not cause you to worry too much.

Feeling faint can occur when you stand up too quickly or stay standing for a long period of time, because all your blood flows to the lowest part of your body (to your legs) and not enough oxygen is available to your brain, causing you to experience light-headedness or faint.

In the first trimester, your blood pressure gradually decreases and reaches its lowest point in the middle of your pregnancy (around 20 weeks), and it will slowly rise to its normal level by the time you deliver.

While changes in your blood pressure occur during pregnancy, your heart rate will go up and your heart will pump out more blood. In addition, the volume of blood in your body increases by 50 percent during pregnancy. Most of the time, the cardiovascular and nervous system can adjust to the fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate seen in pregnancy. But in the event that they can't keep up, you can be left feeling lightheaded and faint.

If you start feeling faint, immediately lie down on your left side to increase the blood flow to your brain. You should feel better within a few minutes. Other ways to relieve this sensation include trying to keep cool, keeping hydrated with lots of water and fluids, avoid rising too quickly, and getting out of bed too fast.

Tips for Managing light-headedness and Faintness

  • Avoid rising or moving too quickly. If you get up too fast the blood in your body will pool in your feet and legs. This can help contribute to the feeling of being lightheaded or faint. Be sure to avoid leaping out of your chair (this may be quite easy during your first trimester).

  • Get out of bed slowly. Many women feel faint first thing in the morning when rising out of bed. Again your best bet here is to take things slowly. You might consider grasping the dresser or other firm object to support you as your rise on waking.

  • Get plenty to eat and drink. Sometimes faintness simply results from not eating enough. You want to make sure you are adequately hydrated throughout the day and eat enough food to keep your blood sugar levels stable. The best way to do this is by eating several smaller meals per day. This will keep a stable supply of energy flowing through your body during the course of your day.

  • Avoid overly hot environments. Many women feel faint simply from being overheated. If this is the case step into a cool room or even stand in front of your freezer or refrigerator (with the door open of course) if you have to. You may find a cool shower helps during warm and humid summer months.

Remember that periodic light-headedness or faintness during pregnancy is quite normal. If you experience persistent symptoms however or sudden symptoms accompanied by a severe headache, vision disturbances or numbness and tingling, be sure to contact your health care provider immediately to rule out other more serious medical problems.

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