You’re having trouble lifting your head off the pillow, you’re dragging your feet all day, and you can’t wait to crawl into bed as soon as you arrive home at night. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re in good company: It’s normal for you to feel a tired when you’re pregnant — especially during the early months and in the weeks before birth.
What causes it?
Pregnancy is sort of like climbing a mountain or running a marathon (without having trained) while carrying a backpack that weighs a little more every day. In other words, it’s hard work! During the first trimester of pregnancy, a huge amount of energy goes into building a life-support system for your baby (namely the placenta) – which is why you might be feeling extra pooped around week 9. What’s more, your body’s metabolism has increased significantly while your blood sugar and blood pressure tend to be lower. Also to blame: All that mood changes. Riding the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy can be exhausting.
By the end of the first trimester, your body will have completed the Herculean task of manufacturing the placenta and grown a bit more used to the hormonal and emotional changes that have occurred, which means the second trimester is usually a time of renewed energy. But beware: Fatigue could return with a vengeance in the third trimester, when your growing fetus puts more demands on your body — and as sleep becomes more elusive because you’re coping with heartburn and backache.
What you can do about it
* Listen to your body. If you’re tired, rest. Pace yourself, keeping your body’s message in mind — and don’t try to be super (expectant) mom. Let the dishes wait until later, and turn the other way as the dust gather under your dining table. Don’t book activities — or take care of chores — that aren’t essential. Never been a napper? There’s never been a better time to try being one.
* Ask for help. Let your partner know exactly how tired you are, so he can do his fair share (and then some). If your friends or family ask if they can give you a hand, say yes — always!
* Get more sleep. If you’re perpetually sleepy, make a point of getting more sleep. If at all possible, go to bed earlier, stay in bed later — or both.
* Eat right. To keep your energy up, you need a steady supply of premium fuel. Follow the pregnancy diet, focusing on long-lasting energy boosters, such as protein and complex carbohydrates. Also make sure you’re getting enough calories (which may be easier said than done if morning sickness has you down — but is definitely worth the effort).
* Caffeine or sugar (or both) may seem like the perfect quick fix for an energy slump, but don’t be fooled into reaching for that chocolate bar — the jolt it will give you will be followed by a free-falling crash, making you feel more tired than ever.
* Eat often. Like so many other pregnancy symptoms, fatigue responds well to the six-meal solution. Keeping your blood sugar on an even keel will help keep your energy steady, too — so resist meal skipping, and opt for frequent mini-meals and snacks (the sustaining kind, comprised of protein and complex carbs).
* Get a move on. Sure, the couch has never looked more inviting — but paradoxically, the right amount of the right kind of exercise can be more rejuvenating than a sofa break. So take a hike or even a short brisk walk — not only will you feel happier, (thanks to those mood-elevating hormones, endorphins), but you’ll sleep better at night. More sleep tonight, more energy tomorrow — get the picture? Just don’t overdo it — you want to finish up your workout feeling energized, not enervated.
If your fatigue is severe, persistent or lasts throughout your entire pregnancy, talk to your doctor – especially if you experience other symptoms like weakness, breathlessness or even fainting spells (which may mean you have iron-deficiency anemia, a common but treatable condition). And if you’re feeling sad or apathetic or having changes in appetite, panic or anxiety, you may be experiencing prenatal depression – another condition your doctor can help you cope with and treat.