Dizziness and fainting in pregnancy

Dizziness is when you feel light-headed, weak, unsteady or as if you might faint.

Many pregnant women feel dizzy at times. It is sometimes the first sign that you are pregnant.

Dizziness is common in weeks 0 to 13 of pregnancy.

When to get medical help

Immediate action required: Contact your GP immediately if you feel faint and have any of the following symptoms:

Go to your GP immediately if you have fainted and hurt yourself, especially if you hit your head.

If a pregnant woman has fainted you should:

  1. Gently put her on the ground and roll her onto her left side, with her left knee pulled up towards her chest.
  2. Call 999 if she does not wake up after 2 minutes.
  3. Stay with her until she wakes up or help arrives.

What to do if you feel faint

If you feel faint then you should:

  • tell someone - they can support you and get help if needed
  • sit down and lower your head towards your legs
  • lie down on your side
  • remove tight or warm clothing
  • get someone to open a window - do not try to move or go outside
  • drink some water
  • have a snack

Signs you might faint

You might faint if you feel any of the following signs:

  • blurred vision or spots in front of your eyes
  • ringing sound in your ears
  • sweating or feeling cold and clammy
  • feeling sick
  • fast or unusually deep breathing

If you faint you will usually be unconscious for 20 seconds. It is normal to feel disorientated for a few seconds after you wake. You may feel tired and weak for 30 minutes or more after fainting.

Prevent dizziness and fainting

You can help prevent dizziness and fainting by:

  • getting out of bed slowly - sit on the side of the bed for a minute before standing
  • avoiding very hot baths or showers
  • getting out of the bath or shower slowly and carefully
  • avoiding standing for long periods of time
  • never skipping meals - even if you have morning sickness, eat small amounts of food often
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • doing small amounts of exercise often, to improve your circulation
  • avoiding lying on your back, especially from your second trimester onwards

Causes of dizziness and fainting

The main causes of dizziness and fainting during pregnancy are:

  • hormone changes - this can cause your blood pressure to drop, allowing less blood to get to your brain
  • overheating
  • low blood sugar - keep a snack with you and avoid skipping meals
  • low iron levels
  • reduced circulation - as your womb grows it will put pressure on the blood vessels in the lower part of your body
  • lying on your back
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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.

Page last reviewed: 26 March 2019
Next review due: 26 March 2022