We all have days of feeling a bit sleepy or lethargic. But you might notice during pregnancy that tiredness is taken to the extreme. Perhaps you just can’t keep your eyes open at work, nod off watching telly, or struggle more than usual to get up when the morning alarm goes off. Well, don’t worry. Pregnancy fatigue is completely normal, especially in the early stages. In fact, for some people, extreme tiredness can even be one of the first signs that they’re expecting.
What is pregnancy fatigue, and when does it occur?
Pregnancy fatigue is the feeling of intense tiredness or weariness, and it’s often most apparent in the first and third trimesters. For many people, first-trimester fatigue can come out of the blue, causing sudden periods of exhaustion.
Often, the second trimester brings with it a second wave of energy, and you might find you perk up a lot from week 13. By this point, your body has built the all-important placenta and will have adjusted somewhat to hormonal fluctuations.However, third-trimester fatigue can kick in around week 28, causing you to crave those afternoon naps again.
Why does pregnancy cause tiredness?
Growing a small human takes up a lot of energy! Even when you’re resting, your body is working away, sending resources to nourish the little one. So it makes sense you might not feel as invigorated as usual.
First-trimester pregnancy fatigue
In the first 12 weeks, first-trimester fatigue is mainly caused by changing levels of pregnancy hormones. Your body produces higher levels of estrogen and progesterone, which can have a sedative effect. You may also find your blood pressure and sugar levels decrease, leading to sudden waves of tiredness.
Increased blood flow to the baby takes up extra energy, too. Your metabolism and heart rate work harder than ever during pregnancy to pump extra nutrient-filled blood cells.
Third-trimester pregnancy fatigue
Third-trimester fatigue affects around 60 percent of all pregnant women. During the later stage of pregnancy, digestive discomfort, heartburn, frequent urination, and navigating how to get comfortable in bed with your baby bump can all contribute to disrupted sleep. Many women find it difficult to get a solid night’s rest, which can impact them in the daytime.
Emotional changes can also affect your energy levels. Having a baby marks a big shift in your life. Among feelings of excitement and joy, you might also experience anxiety, stress, or uncertainty. Try to remember that these responses are all perfectly natural, too.
And keep in mind that it’s okay to need a little extra emotional support at this time. If possible, speak to friends and loved ones often. Keeping a pregnancy journal can also give you a safe space to express your feelings.
Managing pregnancy fatigue
Pregnancy tiredness can be frustrating, but try to be gentle with yourself and listen to your body’s signals. You’re not being lazy or doing something ‘wrong.’ Pregnancy fatigue is a normal part of the prenatal journey.
If you can, have a nap when you find your energy zapped. When you’ve got lots to do to prepare for the new arrival, you might feel like you don’t have time to sleep in the daytime. However, getting in a daily nap can help you feel a little more refreshed in the long run.
Tiredness at work
It might not be so simple to pop to bed and have a quick nap at work or out and about. However, there are ways to reduce pregnancy tiredness in the workplace. Taking regular breaks to put your feet up can really help if you have a job that involves standing for a long time. Eating regularly will also keep a handle on your sugar levels.
On the other hand, if you sit at a desk all day, regular breaks to walk around and stretch can give you a boost and ease any aches and pains. If you find yourself struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help from colleagues. Being open with them and setting boundaries, such as definitive work hours, can help you feel more comfortable managing pregnancy tiredness.
Outside of work, allow yourself a little pampering. Pregnancy therapies, like massage and aromatherapy, can help relax and revitalise you. If you can, invest in time to focus on yourself, even if that’s just a calming hot bath.
Feeling exhausted during your pregnancy is perfectly normal, especially in the first and third trimesters. However, if you find yourself experiencing dizziness, eyesight changes, heart palpitations, or severe headaches, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor or midwife. They can make sure there are no underlying health concerns.
What can I take to give me energy during pregnancy?
It might be tempting to up your intake of caffeine or eat sugary snacks for an energy boost. However, taking prenatal vitamins and supplements is a safer way to manage pregnancy tiredness.
Nutrition is a key factor in helping you and your baby stay healthy and energised during your pregnancy. Support from a pregnancy nutritionist can help you make sure you’re taking appropriate supplements and getting a good balance of vitamins and minerals to manage pregnancy fatigue.
Other ways you can lift your energy levels during pregnancy include:
- Eating iron-rich foods to reduce the risk of anaemia
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Cultivating a gentle exercise routine
- Reducing your amount of daily activities
- Going to bed a bit earlier to ensure you get eight hours of sleep a night.
Pregnancy fatigue is something many women experience, especially in the first and third trimesters. Physical and emotional changes take up a lot of resources. Try to listen to your body and go with what it needs. And remember that there are lots of support options available to help you manage pregnancy tiredness and feel happier and healthier throughout this exciting period.
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Read here our blog article about acupuncture during and after pregnancy.