Pregnancy is such an exciting time for many new parents.
With that excitement can come difficulty for the mother and her changing body.
Pregnancy fatigue is one of the pregnancy symptoms not many women manage to avoid.
Unfortunately, you’re likely to suffer from fatigue at some point during your pregnancy.
Frequent urination after going to bed every night preventing you from getting a full night sleep? Zzz.
Is nausea or morning sickness draining the life out of you every morning? Zzz.
Paid (a lot) to see a critically acclaimed stage production of one of your favorite books? Zzz.
Important business meeting? Zzz.
About to have (amazing hormone-fuelled pregnancy) sex with your partner? Zzz (plus drooling).
We get it. Pregnancy fatigue is rough.
What is pregnancy fatigue?
You probably know what tired feels like, and it’s something you can fix with rest and sleep.
Pregnancy fatigue is a whole other level of tiredness. Due to changes in your hormones and the sheer energy demand on your body, fatigue is a whole body experience of extreme tiredness.
Fatigue is overwhelming and isn’t relieved easily by rest and sleep.
How long does tiredness last in early pregnancy?
Fatigue is most common during the first trimester of pregnancy. During the second trimester, you often get some of your stamina back, which can make you feel revitalized and refreshed.
Fatigue during pregnancy often reappears towards the third trimester as your baby starts putting on fat. You’re also carrying around a lot of extra weight!
Is extreme fatigue normal during pregnancy?
During the first trimester, pregnancy fatigue can be quite a shock, especially if you’re normal an active person who has lots of energy.
As your pregnancy progresses, in the second trimester you might find the fatigue eases, as your body adjust to the demands of growing your baby.
Some women do experience very extreme fatigue and this is often linked to low iron. Speak to your health care provider if you have any concerns about fatigue.
For more information about anaemia, be sure to read Anaemia During Pregnancy | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.
How can I boost my energy during pregnancy?
To try and help you minimise the impact of fatigue when pregnant, here are 13 tips to help you cope:
#1: Sleep when you can
The power nap is your friend, as are lie-ins and early nights. You’re growing a whole other person, give yourself a break and increase the amount of time you spend asleep.
Even short naps of 20 minutes can help to revive you for the rest of the day.
#2: Take time to relax
You don’t need to be asleep to regenerate, just resting when you feel tired can leave you feeling refreshed.
In the second trimester, you have a lot more energy but you can still rest. Instead of getting up and cleaning the oven, try to spend the time resting. Soak in the bath, read a book, listen to some calming music or meditate – whatever helps you to feel calm and rested.
In the third trimester, a baby performing acrobatics on your bladder combined with a sizable bump and the inability to get comfortable can leave you short on sleep.
#3: Listen to your body
From the moment that pregnancy test turns positive, you’ve been aware your body is amazing. Well, your body is pretty wise too, so be sure to listen to any signs it gives you.
Being pregnant takes up lots of energy, so you’ll need to take better care of yourself than you did pre-pregnancy. Prioritise what you need over what you think you ‘should’ be doing.
#4: Stay hydrated
People are often surprised to discover just how much dehydration can make them feel tired.
Dehydration can leave you fatigued and lacking concentration, causing brain fog. Standard advice is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. f you don’t like the taste of water, try adding slices of lemon or cucumber to the water to give it a bit of flavor.
#5: Eat well
Your baby takes what they need from your body to grow – so ensure you get all the nutrients you need so you can function well.
Studies show the pregnancy hormone progesterone made by the placenta during the first trimester can lower your blood sugar and blood pressure, and make you feel tired.
Make a habit of eating 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 provide you with an extra boost. Beans, whole grain cereals, quinoa, berries, and green leafy vegetables are all great energy-boosting foods.
What you don’t eat is as important as what you do. If you eat sugary, processed foods, they can play a part in your fatigue and affect your pregnancy health.
These foods often contain high levels of sugar, leaving you dealing with a sugar crash just two hours later.
The foods are also hard to digest, meaning your body needs to use more energy. Try cutting back on these foods for a couple of weeks to see if you notice a reduction in your fatigue.
Many people eat just three meals a day, but ideally, you should eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable, preventing dips in energy levels. Try including healthy snacks in your daily routine as a way of increasing how often you eat.
#6: Take your pregnancy vitamins
Pregnant women are advised to take prenatal vitamins throughout pregnancy in case their diet doesn’t support the nutrients needed, especially iron. When choosing a prenatal vitamin, see a nutritionist or naturopath for a practitioner strength multi, as many supermarket and pharmacy brands are often much lower in dosage.
#7: Exercise regularly
If you’re suffering from fatigue during pregnancy, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. But it can help to battle your fatigue, increase energy levels and improve your labour.
The more you move, the more your cells move – it’s invigorating to awaken those sleepy cells! Even a 20 minute walk will give you a much-needed boost.
It might sound like a huge effort, but start small and build up until you are doing half an hour of exercise each day.
Yoga class, pilates, swimming, and walking are all popular exercise choices during pregnancy.
#8: 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, especially during your third trimester.
It means you can reschedule your working day to suit your energy during pregnancy. Speak to your boss about the fatigue, and explain ways you feel they could help you.
#9: Be realistic
If you’re trying to keep up with your pre-pregnancy self, this could be contributing to your fatigue.
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.
#10: Accept all offers of help
Now’s the time to call in favors and ask for help from friends and family. Send them this link!
If you have other children, organise some care outside the home with a trusted friend or relative so you can rest.
Discuss with your partner how they can help ease the load on you. You don’t have to do it all on your own!
#11: Get your to-do list in order
Some pregnant women find it hard to switch off at night, and lie awake worrying about the things they haven’t done. Organize your to-do list so it’s more manageable.
Focus on what needs doing now, and create a time plan of when you’ll do it. Organizing your worries can help you to feel more in control, and enable you to get to sleep easier at night.
#12: Get into the sunshine
Vitamin D is made by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Where we live, regular use of sunscreen and modern indoor lifestyles means vitamin D deficiency is very common.
Your baby gets their vitamin D directly from your stores, so if you’re deficient you’re more likely to experience symptoms including fatigue. You also increase your risk of high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, preterm labor and low birthweight.
Include foods rich in vitamin D in your diet, such as salmon, dairy and eggs. Get at least 15-30 minutes of sun exposure on your skin each day if possible. Consider a vitamin D supplement if it’s winter or you’re unable to get enough sunshine.
#13: Speak to a professional
Fatigue during pregnancy can cause you to feel emotionally depleted, even depressed. Speak to your doctor or midwife about how you feel. They can organise health checks and advise on correct supplements to boost nutrients if needed.
Sometimes, talking to a sympathetic listener can help and you might like to seek a counsellor who deals with pregnancy concerns. Acupuncture and meditation might also benefit if being so tired is getting you down.
How do you beat pregnancy fatigue?
Pregnancy fatigue is something you might have to accept and lean into, rather try and avoid or beat. Of course, there’s many factors that can make pregnancy tiredness worse, so looking after yourself and your baby is vital.
You made it to the end of the article. Congratulations, you’ve earned yourself a nap.