Fainting During Pregnancy
I considered fainting “normal” for me ever since the first time I experienced it. The first was a blur. I was at least 8 years old, was hit on my upper arm, then I suddenly collapsed. The second time was more or less 10 years ago. I was in high school and we (mom & I) planned my first adventure to Divisoria. I hadn’t eaten my breakfast that day and it was late in the afternoon when we had the chance to go to the food court. Just then and there I fainted, in front of a Jollibee counter.
A few fainting spells followed after a few more years. I had so many sleepless nights because of my thesis research during my last year in college. I am anemic by nature and the stress got the best of me. I was at my most vulnerable during those red days (monthly period). A dysmenorrhea attack would make me faint. I had epileptic-like spasms twice, and there was a time the pain was so unbearable that I fainted instantly, hitting my head on the floor.
My parents consulted a neurologist and a cardiologist. The doctors needed to check what’s causing my syncope (medical term for fainting) and seizure (total loss of consciousness preceded by sudden, violent shaking) episodes. I underwent an Electroencephalogram (EEG) Test to check for abnormal brain patterns that may be causing my seizures. Fortunately, results were normal and I was just advised to take multivitamins everyday and live a “healthier” and active lifestyle.
What it was like during an EEG. Sensors, or electrodes, are attached on your head through wires that are also connected to a computer. The computer records your brain’s electrical activity. On paper, the results show wavy lines, similar to a lie detector test (polygraph).
According to pregnancy websites, fainting during pregnancy happens when the brain is not getting enough blood. Not enough blood means not enough oxygen. Low levels of oxygen in the brain may cause fainting. Other causes include fatigue, starvation, and anemia.
Though fainting isn’t new to me anymore, I can’t help but be anxious because it’s not only my condition I have to think about. I’m more worried of the baby. I remember fainting a couple of times during my first pregnancy. All episodes happened while we (my husband & I) were doing the grocery. I’m lucky that my husband was always with me during those dark moments.
I’m aiming for a better pregnancy this time but it came out to be worse, at least for the 1st trimester. Last month, I fainted while waiting for our lunch at Trinoma. The aftermath was ugly. I wanted to throw up and it took me ages before I can find the energy to walk. My husband was with me the whole time and I can’t help but feel helpless. And just last week, I almost fainted again inside a grocery store. I was with my mom and I asked her if we could go outside so I can breathe properly.
There’s actually a fainting “pattern” or fainting symptoms that I familiarized myself with. I don’t know if it’s the same as everyone else’s, but I’ll list it down anyway.
- Shortness of breath followed by a series of yawning. This happens when your body lacks oxygen.
- Sudden drop in body temperature. The color also drains out of your face.
- Dizziness and feeling lightheaded.
- Slight ringing in the ears.
- Disorientation and labored breathing.
- Vision blurs and hearing slowly fades.
- Loss of strength.
- Black out. Total loss of consciousness. Lasts for a few seconds.
- Sense of hearing comes back and the realization that you’ve fainted slowly registers to your brain.
- Sudden rise in temperature followed by cold sweating. You’ll feel the warmth (surge of blood) in some parts of your body.
- Dazed, and body may feel weak.
- Breathing comes back to normal.
- Never skip on your prenatal vitamins.
- As much as possible, always have a company while you’re out and about. Tell them what to do in case you faint, and ask them not to panic.
- A stranger that we met after one of my fainting episodes told me to practice deep breathing. His wife had the same case as mine so he said, “Inhale and exhale properly; that’s how you fight.”
- Bring snacks wherever you go (crackers, candies, chocolate or granola bars) and eat every 15 minutes. Never skip meals.
- If you’re anemic, ask your doctor to give you an iron supplement.
- Refrain from going to crowded places and closed spaces. Make sure the area is well-ventilated.
- Wear your prescription eyeglasses. You might not be aware, but sometimes it is the reason for your dizziness and nausea.
- Walk slowly and breathe deeply. I’ve concluded that I usually faint inside grocery stores because 1.) I walk rapidly and get tired in a matter of minutes (just a habit) and 2.) not enough ventilation in the place.
- Hydrate. Always carry a water bottle with you.
- Get up slowly after sitting or lying down. Standing too quickly is not a good idea.
- Find a seat quickly when you’re feeling faint, especially when you’re out on your own.
- Never tire yourself to the point that you’re finding it difficult to breathe.
Photo Credit: popscreen.com, awesomefamilyfun.blogspot.com, ilsblog.com