Is fainting in pregnancy a cause for concern?

Fainting in pregnancy has long been considered a harmless symptom of pregnancy. But that said, there’s some new research you should be aware of. By Kim Bell

Recent research has found that fainting may be a sign to take note of, particularly if this occurs during the first trimester. The study conducted by a team of cardiologist researchers, including senior epidemiologist, professor of medicine and a member of the Women & Children’s Health Research Institute, Padma Kaul of the University of Alberta, and cardiology trainee, Safia Chatur, from the University of Calgary, looked at birth records of over 480 000 babies born between 2005 and 2014, as well as the medical records of the mothers for a year post birth. The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that while only 1% of expectant mothers fainted, a third of those episodes happened during the first trimester.

Those who were prone to fainting, had higher rates of preterm births, further fainting episodes and an increased risk of heart problems later on. Moms-to-be who had more than one fainting episode were also at a higher risk of giving birth to low-weight babies.

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

What is fainting?

Described as a temporary loss of consciousness, fainting is often linked to low blood pressure and a lack of oxygen in the brain. The researchers share that pregnancy hormones can increase heart rate and blood supply, while blood vessels tend to be more relaxed, which can lead to dizziness or fainting.

The concern

Padma has warned that fainting in pregnancy should not be overlooked, and if you are prone to fainting in your first trimester, this should be reported to your doctor. “Pregnancy is a natural stress test for the woman’s system,” she commented. “Fainting during pregnancy may identify women who are at higher risk of cardiovascular complications down the road.” She recommends that fainting be added to the list of pregnancy-induced conditions, such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, and should be considered a warning sign that requires monitoring of both mother and baby.

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