Fatigue in Pregnancy

It’s remarkable to many women just how tired they can feel in pregnancy, especially in the first and last trimesters.  While the amount of sleep your body demands may be shocking, its important to remember all the hard work and energy your body is devoting to creating a healthy baby. By the end of the first trimester, your body has helped your baby develop all of his or her body parts—an amazing accomplishment!  Your body is also undergoing tremendous transformations (e.g. significant hormonal changes, remarkably increased blood flow and volume) and your psyche is adjusting to this monumental change in your life.  With good reason, the first trimester is when many women feel the most tired.

As pregnancy proceeds, your body is working hard to support and nourish your growing baby, making the later months of pregnancy tiring as well.  Some women feel they have more energy in the second trimester.

While fatigue is your body’s normal and useful message that you need more sleep to accomplish all of this incredible work, it can be hard to cope with this sometimes overwhelming need for rest in pregnancy, especially if you are working or have other children.  Though you may not be able to eliminate your fatigue, there are many ways you can cope and support your body at this time.

AT BEDTIME:

  • Get lots of sleep (at least 8 to 10 hours) with as many of those hours before midnight as possible, as this is when your body recuperates.
  • Take naps if possible.  It’s common for women to take hour-long (or longer!) naps daily during pregnancy.
  • Support your tummy, lower back and legs with pillows (or one pregnancy pillow) during rest, especially in your last trimester.
  • Sleep in a well-ventilated room, as oxygen replenishes your cells while you rest.

IN THE KITCHEN:

  • Eat small meals regularly (every 2-3 hours) to maintain balanced glycogen and insulin, the two hormones that regulate your blood sugar levels.  Carry nuts or fruit with you on the go.  Too much sugar in the diet can contribute to fatigue.  Ensure you are getting enough protein and complex carbohydrates.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink 2-3 liters of water a day to promote healthy digestion.  Constipation can contribute to fatigue.
  • Avoid coffee, while it can temporarily boost your energy, it also causes a crash that can actually increase your fatigue.
  • Alternative energy boosters include: Peppermint tea (as long as it doesn’t aggravate heart burn), Spirulina or kelp supplements, Nettle tea

DURING LEISURE TIME:

  • Yoga and meditation are regarded as energy-enhancing practices.
  • Take a bath with two drops each of lavender, neroli, and mandarin essential oils.  Other great essential oils for fatigue include peppermint, lemon, orange, sandalwood and rosemary (AVOID essential oils, however, in the first trimester)
  • A brisk walk in fresh air, when possible, can increase oxygen intake, improve circulation, appetite and bowel function, and decrease fatigue.
  • Massage can be invigorating and relaxing.

Speak with your midwives about your fatigue.  You may want to be checked for anemia, which is common in pregnancy and can certainly cause fatigue.

Be kind to yourself, prioritize your activities (maybe reducing your responsibilities if possible), and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  You are doing important and difficult (and ultimately rewarding!) work right now.

Please speak with us if you have any additional questions or concerns about fatigue in pregnancy.

Rest well, mamas!