How to Fight Pregnancy Fatigue
How to Fight Pregnancy Fatigue
Pregnancy fatigue can make morning sickness worse. Who wants to do that? Learn how to fight fatigue while you are pregnant!
Fatigue During Pregnancy
Many women find that when they find out they are expecting, they will have to fight fatigue while pregnant. In fact, pregnancy fatigue is often one of the first signs of becoming pregnant. It is characterized by extreme feelings of being tired, beyond the usual feelings of exhaustion from a long day or from not enough sleep. It may feel like you are run-down or too exhausted to even get out of bed in the morning.
Why Am I So Tired During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy fatigue can be caused by a few factors. It occurs most often in the 1st and 3rd trimesters, although it can also occur throughout an entire pregnancy.
1st trimester acceleration in growth. When you first become pregnant, your body kicks into overdrive. It has so much to do, from helping the baby to grow, helping your muscles and joints prepare for birth, increase your blood supply and everything else it needs to do to support a healthy pregnancy.
This usually lessens by the fourth month when the growth of the baby becomes a steady growth instead of the accelerated growth seen in the first three months. Fatigue can, however, still be an issue, depending on other factors of your pregnancy and your daily activities, even though it may not be as severe.
3rd trimester preparations for birth. Once you enter into the third trimester, your body goes into overdrive once more, getting ready for the impending birth. It is also the time when you are straining to carry the extra weight of the baby, having trouble sleeping, and most likely not moving as much as you were in the beginning due to the extra weight.
Pregnancy Help : Things that Can Make Pregnancy Fatigue Worse
Pregnancy fatigue can feel worse when the following conditions exist:
- Anemia. Anemia is the body’s response to a lack of iron. Iron is necessary in pregnancy for helping to develop the baby’s blood supply and to support the increase in volume of your own blood supply. Without enough iron, you develop anemia, which has side effects including dizziness, fainting, and fatigue.
- Thyroid problem. The thyroid is a gland that helps control the thyroid hormone, thyroxine, necessary for regulating metabolism in your body. Too little of this hormone can make you feel tired. Too much of this hormone can make you be fatigued, experience insomnia, and much more.
- Lack of exercise or too much exercise. A lack of exercise can worsen the effects of pregnancy fatigue, especially if you are used to sitting down for the majority of the day. On the other hand, too much exercise can leave you feeling fatigued.
- Taking care of other children. If this is not your first pregnancy, you may feel even more tired from taking care of your other children’s needs while also taking care of your pregnant self.
Do Prenatal Vitamins Make You Sick?
Want or crave carbs?
Instead of eating a handful of pretzels, try a baked potato with a little shredded cheese on top. Yummy and filling at the same time! Plus, you're getting necessary nutrients from the potato that you wouldn't get from the pretzel, like fiber, protein and iron.
Drink During Pregnancy : Stay Hydrated!
Not a fan of water?
Add a lemon or lime wedge, some raspberries, or cucumber to your water to give it some flavor. Other drinks that contain water can be fine as well: milk, fruit and vegetable juices, decaffeinated coffee and tea, and sparkling water. Try to avoid sugary soft drinks.
Fatigue Solutions : Dietary Remedies
It is so easy for a pregnant woman to overeat and not get proper nutrition. You’re eating for two, right? Well, yes and no. You are now eating to support the new life within you, but you should only need roughly 300 calories more than you’re used to eating.
Here are some dietary essentials for you to remember to help battle fatigue:
1. Make sure to take your prenatal vitamin daily. Prenatal vitamins help to supplement vital vitamins and minerals in our bodies that we don’t get from our meals. A lack of some of these vitamins and minerals, such as a lack of iron, can cause fatigue.
2. Avoid excessive amounts of carbs and sugar. Eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates and sugars are not good, especially when they are refined, since they can cause extra weight gain and have no real nutritional values for your body. Aim for complex carbohydrates, like whole grains or fresh fruits/veggies, which are better for you and can help battle nausea and constipation.
3. Drink enough H2O. It is vital in pregnancy to continuously stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep you refreshed. Aim for about 64oz of water daily, which is about eight 8oz glasses.
During my pregnancies (and even now), I kept a large 32oz cup of water constantly filled. It was a great cup because it actually had the ounces marked so that I never had to do any guesswork as to how much water I drank.
4. Don’t overdo caffeine. During pregnancy, women need to be careful about the amount of caffeine they ingest. Higher amounts of caffeine have been linked to miscarriage, although it is not always the case. Basically, it is ‘safe’ to have two cups of coffee a day or one bottle of a soft drink. Any more should be avoided.
How does caffeine affect fatigue? Caffeine can have a great affect on feelings of fatigue in a few ways: by creating withdrawal symptoms, by lowering the body’s intake of fluid (it acts like a diuretic), by lowering the intake of iron, and by keeping you awake when you should be sleeping (especially at night).
Don’t cut caffeine cold turkey, though, because those withdrawal symptoms can be horrendous. If you are used to some caffeine on a daily basis, learn to limit the amount you have. If you are not used to having caffeine, there’s no reason to start now. Find other ways to boost your energy.
How to Fight Fatigue : Exercise
Exercise is really healthy for your body, especially during pregnancy as it helps to keep off excess weight and keeps things moving in your digestive tract to avoid constipation. By exercising each day, you can refresh your body by helping circulation, and tire your body out just enough so that it is easier for you to fall asleep at night.
The key here is to exercise for just the right amount of time; too little exercise will keep you fatigued and too little exercise can make fatigue even worse. Make it a goal to exercise for at least 10-30 minutes a day. What’s the easiest exercise you can do? Walk! Walking around your workplace, around the neighborhood, or even in place can be a great way to exercise.
Why keep your feet up?
Keeping your feet elevated helps reduce swelling in the lower legs, feet and ankles, which can make your legs feel heavier and make you tire out sooner.
Ways to Fight Fatigue During Pregnancy
♦ Rest when you can. This may seem like an obvious answer, but it is often the most neglected option. Rest any time you get the chance, and do so with your feet up, even if they’re on a short stool or on the couch.
While your rest can be a 10-20 minute nap, it doesn’t have to be. You can lean back in a chair and close your eyes for a few minutes. You can also lie down on a couch or bed and read a book.
It’s important to do this as often as possible, especially when you are working. As a teacher, I had hours when I had to continuously be working with my students and be on my feet. To remedy this, I would give each class 5 minutes at the beginning of the period to reflect in a journal or answer a prompt I would write on the board. While they were busy, I sat in a chair in the front of the room and placed my feet on a small stool. It was enough to give me a bit of rest and energy so that I could continue on with the day.
♦ Get help with work or housework. This is another often neglected option for rest. If you need help accomplishing any task, ask for it, especially once you’ve entered into the 3rd trimester and you are carrying more weight. It can be very tiring trying to do everything all by yourself.
If you are at work and need help, ask a trusted colleague to assist you. When I was pregnant and teaching, my colleagues would offer to gather items I would need from our supply room or make copies for me in our copy room which was a floor down in another building. At first I resisted because I wanted to get the exercise, but towards the end I was so appreciative of this help since it tired me out so much.
If you need help with chores at home, enlist the help of your spouse, partner, older children, family or friends. Having people around you at home to help with chores is an awesome thing. You may resist having other people do things for you, but if you continue to work too hard, you will tire yourself out or put extra unnecessary strain on your joints and muscles, especially in the 3rd trimester. Embrace the help!
♦ Go outside for some fresh air. Most adults spend an average of 8 solid hours indoors every day, whether it be at work or at home. We breathe in whatever air is available to us in the buildings, which is often mixed with dust and other pollutants that have been trapped inside. When we go outside, however, our lungs are given a fresh dose of clean air, causing our lungs to take deeper breaths and draw in more oxygen. The oxygen makes its way to our brains and hearts, helping us to feel refreshed and increasing our energy.
Go outside as often as you can and breathe in fresh air. This can be done in conjunction with your exercise or walking routine, giving you double the benefits and helping to keep you from feeling fatigued.
♦ Make a To-Do List, but Do One Thing at a Time. Many pregnant women make a list of all the things that need to be accomplished before the baby arrives, hoping to have every last thing checked off before labor begins. Focusing on this list and trying to get everything done can cause fatigue, however, making it harder to complete the tasks and all other tasks.
If you have a to-do list, choose one thing a day (or even one a week if it’s a bigger task) to accomplish. If you feel stressed that you are not completing the list as fast as you had hoped, enlist the help of family or friends.
Sleep Comfortably While Pregnant
A Pillow Solution
Do you have a Boppy Nursing Pillow from a previous pregnancy? Use it for belly support! During my second pregnancy, I would place the Boppy pillow under my belly to feel comfortable while sleeping on my side.
Sleeping Remedies to Fight Fatigue while Pregnant
♦ Keep your evenings free from activities. If you’re anything like the majority of Americans, you work very hard during the day and then find it hard to wind down at night. Make it a point to keep your evenings free, even if you don’t have a job or you work from home. Give your body a chance to relax and recover in the quiet of your own home or backyard. This will help you ease into your bedtime routine as well.
♦ Go to bed earlier. Going to bed earlier helps to fight fatigue by giving your body and mind more time to rest. You shouldn’t fear about getting too much sleep: at some point in the pregnancy you will experience bouts of frequent urination that will awaken you often, causing you to lose sleep. Also, if this is not your first pregnancy, you may be awakened by older children who may have nightmares, need a drink, need to use the potty, etc.
♦ Try different sleep positions. Another thing that can keep you awake at night and cause fatigue during the day is the lack of a comfortable sleeping position. As your belly grows, sleeping comfortably becomes a challenge. One solution to this is to use more pillows or pregnancy support pillows. Place these pillows under your belly, behind your back and between your knees to support your body as you sleep.
Another solution is to sleep in a reclining chair. Often this is helpful not only for comfort but also for aiding in acid reflux or heartburn symptoms.
♦ Take a warm shower or bath. A warm shower or a warm bath can help pregnant women relax, especially after a long day. Doing so before bedtime helps as it makes the transition to sleeping a bit easier.
♦ Keep your sleeping area comfortable. Keeping your bedroom comfortable can help you get the necessary sleep at night. Try to keep your bedroom at a cool temperature and as dark as possible. Avoid technology: TV, laptop, smartphone, iPhone, iPad, etc. Using those devices before you try to sleep can actually inhibit your ability to get enough rest.
Fight Fatigue and Stay Refreshed During Pregnancy
While pregnancy fatigue may not be completely avoidable, the effects of it can be lessened by following the tips above.
Remember: if you feel that your fatigue is beyond what is normal for pregnancy, contact your doctor who may want to check you for anemia or thyroid issues.
Fatigue During Pregnancy : Sources
Here are the pregnancy books I used for my research. They were my favorites to read during my pregnancies!
Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Glade Curtis
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month by the American College of Gynecologists
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
What should I do if I can't sleep because of pregnancy fatigue? I toss and turn, and I can't sleep most nights.
Sleeping during pregnancy can definitely be a challenge. I suggest investing in a pregnancy pillow, which will support your back and your belly. It made such a difference for me during my fourth pregnancy.