Pregnancy fatigue is one symptom that not many women manage to avoid. Unfortunately, you are likely to suffer from fatigue at some point during your pregnancy. Fatigue is most common during the first trimester, though often reappears towards the end of the pregnancy.
You may be surprised at just how much pregnancy fatigue can affect you. It's not just tiredness, and you may find yourself succumbing to sleep at inappropriate times. Paid (a lot) to see a critically acclaimed stage production of your favourite book? Zzz. Important business meeting? Zzz. About to have (amazing hormone-fuelled pregnancy) sex with your partner? Zzz (plus drooling). To try and help you avoid missing out on these important events, here are 14 tips to help you cope with pregnancy fatigue:
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #1: Sleep When You Can
The power nap is your friend, as are lie in and early night. You are growing a whole other person, give yourself a break and increase the amount of time you spend asleep. That growing baby of yours is zapping all your energy, so give yourself chance to catch up. Even a short nap of 20 minutes can help to revive you for the rest of the day.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #2: Take Time To Relax
You don't need to be asleep to be regenerating energy, even just resting can leave you feeling refreshed. In late pregnancy, a baby performing acrobatics on your bladder combined with a sizable bump and the inability to get comfortable can leave you short on sleep. Instead of getting up and cleaning the oven, instead try to spend the time resting. Have a soak in the bath, read a book, listen to some calming music or meditate – whatever helps you to feel calm and rested.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #3: Listen To Your Body
From the moment that pregnancy test turned positive, you have probably been aware that your body is amazing. Well, your body is pretty wise too, so be sure to listen to any signs it gives you. If you're feeling fatigued, get some rest. Being pregnant takes up a lot of energy, so you will need to take better care of yourself than you did pre-pregnancy.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #4: Stay Hydrated
People are often surprised to discover just how much dehydration can affect them. You should be drinking around eight glasses of water a day during pregnancy. Dehydration can leave you lacking in energy and concentration, so up your water intake to see if that helps. If you don't like the taste of water, try adding slices of lemon or cucumber to the water to give it a bit of flavour.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #5: Eat Well
Your baby will take what he or she needs from your body to grow – so to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need so that you can function well, eat a healthy, balanced diet, rich in fresh vegetables, protein and foods containing good fats (especially omegas 3, 6 and 9), like avocado, salmon, coconut oil, chia seeds and almonds. Nuts and seeds make for a great daily snack and can provide you with an extra energy boost. Beans, whole grain cereals, quinoa, berries and green leafy vegetables are all great energy-boosting foods.
What you don't eat is just as important as what you do. If you often eat sugary, processed or junk foods, they could be playing a part in your fatigue. These foods often contain high levels of sugar, leaving you dealing with a sugar crash just two hours later. The foods may also be harder for your body to digest, meaning you need more energy to eat these foods. Try cutting out, or at least reducing, these foods for a couple of weeks to see if you notice a boost in your energy levels.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #6: Eat Little And Often
Many people eat just three meals a day, but ideally you should be eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable, preventing dips in energy. Try including healthy snacks in your daily routine as a way of increasing how often you eat.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #7: Take Your Pregnancy Vitamins
Pregnant women are advised to take prenatal vitamins throughout pregnancy. When choosing a prenatal vitamin, seek out a practitioner strength multi, as many supermarket and pharmacy brands are often much lower in dosage. You can speak to a naturopath or visit a health food store who employ naturopaths on staff, for advice on which prenatal vitamins to choose.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #8: Exercise Regularly
If you're suffering from fatigue, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. It could, however, help you to battle your fatigue, and even increase energy levels. The more you move, the more your cells move – it can really be invigorating to awaken those sleepy cells! Even a 20 minute walk could give you a much-needed energy boost. It might sound like a huge effort, but think of it this way – all you need to do is just start walking for just 10 minutes, then you get to walk back home again! Start small and build up until you are doing half an hour of exercise each day. Yoga, pilates, swimming and walking are all popular exercises choices during pregnancy. Be sure to schedule your exercise at a time when you usually have high energy levels.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #9: Speak To Your Boss
If your employer is aware of your pregnancy, they may be able to offer you flexible working hours for the remainder of the pregnancy. This means, if you feel like a lie-in one day, you can start work later and make up the time another day. It also means you can reschedule your working day to suit your energy levels during pregnancy. Speak to your boss about the fatigue, and explain ways you feel they could help you. You may be surprised at how accommodating your boss can be.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #10: Be Realistic
If you are trying to keep up with your pre-pregnancy self, this could be contributing to your fatigue. Just because you used to manage mid-week late nights with the girls, doesn't mean you need to now. Switch your late nights for lunch dates, and give yourself a chance at getting enough sleep. Turn down extra work commitments, and reduce your schedule if possible, give yourself a few weeks to catch up before committing to anything new. Most women find that their energy levels increase during the second trimester, so you can be back in business then.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #11: Accept All Offers Of Help
Now is the time to call in favours. Contact friends and family and ask them to help out. If you have a child already, ask a trusted relative to take him to the park for a couple of hours while you grab some shut eye. Ask your partner to take on more than his fair share of the cooking and cleaning so that you can keep your energy for growing that baby of his.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #12: Get Your To Do List In Order
Some pregnant women find it hard to switch off at night, and instead lie awake worrying about all the things they haven't done. Organise your to do list so that it seems more manageable – you don't need to paint the nursery at eight weeks, there's plenty of time for things like that. Focus on what needs doing now, and create a time plan of when you will do it. Organising your worries may help you to feel more in control, and enable you to get to sleep easier at night.
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #13: Make Your Bed Wonderful
Your bed should be an oasis of calm, a sleep paradise calling out to you from upstairs. All distractions should be removed – phones, laptops and televisions will only serve to keep you distracted from sleep. Your bed should be comfy, clean and surrounded by all manner of pillows (pregnancy requires this).
Pregnancy Fatigue Tip #14: Speak To A Professional
Fatigue can sometimes be a symptom of low iron or anaemia, which is common towards the end of pregnancy. If the above tips have not helped you to increase your energy levels, or if you are suffering from extreme fatigue, contact your healthcare provider for advice. They may wish to check your iron levels to determine whether you are suffering from iron deficiency or another medical condition. The most important measure of iron you need to be aware of is your ferritin levels, so ask your doctor what your ferritin levels are.
You made it to the end of the article. Congratulations, you've earned yourself a nap.