Tiredness, exhaustion, fatigue — regardless of what you call it, it’s a bummer. Keep reading to learn what causes exhaustion during pregnancy and what you can do to feel better!
Many pregnant women feel so tired that just getting up for work every day becomes difficult. Typically, women feel exhausted during their first trimester. It’s common to feel tired or exhausted, especially in the first 12 weeks. Unfortunately, this fatigue may reappear during your third trimester.
What causes exhaustion during pregnancy?
Your body’s working hard to keep you going while supporting the new life inside you. You’re using more water and nutrients, producing more blood, and your heart rate is up.
In your first trimester, several elements may cause pregnancy fatigue:
- Hormones. Ramped-up production of the hormone progesterone is primarily to blame for pregnancy exhaustion. Progesterone does many things, like increasing the production of milk glands required for breastfeeding. Hormone changes may also affect your mood; pregnancy’s emotional roller coaster can be exhausting!
- Creating placenta. During your first trimester, your body is building the placenta. This organ is made especially for pregnancy, supplying your baby with the nutrients and oxygen necessary to grow and thrive. Creating a placenta is an enormous task that drains your energy.
- Expanded blood supply. The process required to create and pump extra blood to supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients can easily tire you.
- Other changes. Your heart rate is up, your metabolism is running high, and your blood sugar and blood pressure are down. Plus, you’re using more nutrients and water. All of these factors can wear you out.
Exhaustion might return with a vengeance later on in your pregnancy. Third-trimester fatigue can be caused by the following:
- Your growing bump. In your final trimester, your baby will quickly grow. Plus, you’re carrying more weight than you were earlier in pregnancy. Lugging around all those pounds can be exhausting.
- Pregnancy insomnia. Your flourishing bump and symptoms, including backache, restless leg syndrome, and heartburn, may make sleep more difficult to get than ever.
- Stress. Your life is probably overloaded with planning for your baby right now: to-do lists, shopping lists, baby-name lists and other decisions you’ll need to make. The stress of all this could be costing you sleep and energy.
What does pregnancy exhaustion feel like?
Fatigue is officially defined as extreme tiredness due to mental or physical exertion. If you feel like you can’t get out of bed in the morning or can’t wait to go to bed as soon as you get home, you probably have pregnancy exhaustion. Or you may feel like you’re just dragging from the moment you get up to when you go to sleep.
Think of your pregnancy journey as running a marathon. While running, you also carry a backpack that gains a bit of weight daily. Pregnancy is hard work! Even though you may not be aware of what your body is up to, it’s working harder than ever, even when you’re resting.
How can I find relief from exhaustion during pregnancy?
To start, pay close attention to the signals your body gives you. For example, take a break if you get breathless during a jog or find that the vacuum suddenly feels like it weighs a ton.
Try not to worry that your exhaustion during pregnancy might harm your baby – it won’t. For most women, tiredness during pregnancy is totally normal. It won’t hurt you or your baby. Actually, fatigue is a sign to get the rest you need.
If you can swing it, nap during the day and go to be early during the week. Also, avoid tea, soda, or coffee in the evening because caffeine can make sleeping more challenging.
Here are seven natural, safe ways to boost your energy when you’re facing exhaustion during pregnancy:
- Keep up with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Try nutritious and satisfying foods with anti-inflammatory abilities, like organic fruits and vegetables. Ensure you eat foods with protein, which will help fuel your body!
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible (like chips, cookies, and microwave meals)
- Don’t eat simple carbs, such as white bread. Carbohydrates are an important nutrient and one of your body’s primary energy sources. However, complex carbs pack in more nutrients than simple carbs.
- Keep well-hydrated by carrying water with you wherever you go. Also, you might grab a nice drink of water or juice on your breaks and put your feet up.
- Exercise every day, because it can actually help you feel less tired. Remember to pace yourself. Work out a bit, and then take a rest. Cardio exercise, like brisk walking, will almost always make you feel more alert, and even more so if you walk outside. Try to fit in some activity daily, such as a lunchtime walk, prenatal yoga, or swimming.
- Allow yourself and your body plenty of rest. Go to bed at a time that’ll give you eight to nine hours of sleep. Getting enough rest is more important than keeping your house white-glove-test clean or serving four-star dinners. So, let others “baby” you when they offer, and get an extra hour or two more of sleep each night.
- Nap whenever you can! Even small “catnaps” of 15 to 20 minutes during your breaks at work can be energizing.
Talk to your doctor if you’re suffering from persistent exhaustion during pregnancy. They may want to run tests to ensure you don’t have anemia or hypothyroidism.
Occasionally, when other symptoms accompany sleeplessness, it can be a sign of depression. If you face other symptoms of depression, such as losing interest in the things you used to enjoy or feeling hopeless, speak to your doctor or midwife. Treatment and support can help.
If you’re wondering how your baby is growing, make sure to check out this realistic video, “Life Before Birth.” This six minute video is a great way to learn how a baby develops during pregnancy.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 14, 2017, and has since been updated.