Question: “I’m so tired all the time. I’m worried that I won’t be able to continue working. Any tips?”
Answer: Your pregnant body is working harder even when you’re resting than a non-pregnant body is when mountain-climbing; you’re just not aware of the effort. First of all, your body is developing your baby’s life-support system, the placenta, which won’t be completed until the end of the first trimester. Secondly, your body is adjusting to the many other demands of pregnancy. Once your body has adjusted and the placenta is complete (around the fourth month), you should have more energy. Until that point, you may need to work fewer hours or take a few days off if you’re really exhausted. But if your pregnancy continues normally, there’s no reason why you can’t stay at your job (assuming your doctor hasn’t restricted your activity and/or the work isn’t overly strenuous). Most pregnant women are more contented and less stressed if they keep busy.
Your exhaustion is justifiable, so don’t fight it. When you get tired, it’s a sign from your body that you need more rest. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
- Baby yourself. Getting adequate rest is more important than keeping your house spotless or serving gourmet dinners.
- Keep evenings free of nonessential activities. Spend them off your feet, at a low-key activity such as reading or watching TV.
- Don’t wait until nightfall to take it easy. If you can take an afternoon nap, by all means treat yourself. If you can’t sleep, lie down with a good book. At work, putting your feet up at your desk or on the sofa in the ladies’ room during breaks and lunch hours may be possible.
- Let others baby you. Make sure your significant other is doing his fair share (or more) of chores, including laundry and cleaning. Accept your others’ offers to vacuum and dust when they’re visiting.
- Get an hour or two more sleep each night. If you have a DVR, record any late-night TV shows so that you can watch the later.
- Be sure that your diet isn’t lacking. First-trimester fatigue is often made worse if you’re not getting enough iron, protein, or calories. No matter how tired you’re feeling, don’t be tempted to rev up your body with caffeine and candy bars. The energy won’t last for long, and after the temporary lift, your blood sugar will plummet, leaving you more fatigued than ever.
- Check your lighting, air circulation, air quality, and noise level in your home or workplace. These can all contribute to fatigue. Be alert to these problems and try to get them corrected.
- Take a walk or a slow jog. Or do a pregnancy exercise or yoga routine. Oddly, too much rest and not enough activity can make you even more tired.
Your exhaustion will probably get better once you’re around four months along. If your tiredness is severe, especially if it is accompanied by fainting, pallor, breathlessness, and/or palpitations, it’s wise to report it to your doctor.