I’m Pregnant and Tired All the Time
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In this article:
- Pregnancy Fatigue Overview
- What Does Pregnancy Fatigue Feel Like?
- What Causes Tiredness In Pregnancy?
- Pregnancy Fatigue During The First Trimester
- Pregnancy Fatigue During The Second Trimester
- Pregnancy Fatigue During The Third Trimester
- How To Combat Pregnancy Fatigue
Pregnancy Fatigue Overview
It’s something all women who are expecting say a thousand times: “I’m pregnant and tired all the time!”
I know I did.
Ladies, let’s face it - pregnancy fatigue is real and you’re not alone. If you’re like me when I was pregnant, you’re probably taking more naps than you’re used to.
It can be frustrating that such an exciting time in your life is making you so exhausted. But, think about what your body is doing. You’re literally creating another human being cell by cell - all 26 billion of them.
You! You are doing this grand act all by yourself. Well, okay you had a little help getting there. But, the rest is up to you. And all those months that this new, tiny creature is forming within your body is bound to take its toll on you.
Just keep your eyes on the prize - a brand new bundle of joy - and remember, this too shall pass.
And while the very act of being pregnant is enough all on its own to cause you to be tired all the time, sometimes there are specific causes, like anemia.
What Does Pregnancy Fatigue Feel Like?
Pregnancy fatigue will have you convinced that you’re the descendant of a sloth. You won’t feel like moving. You’ll feel like a battery-operated machine that’s just powered down and constantly needs to be charged.
You’ll just want to lay down and sleep. All. The. Time.
You might even find it hard to do just basic everyday things, like getting dressed in the morning or you know, putting one foot in front of the other.
Quite often, pregnant women don’t get as much accomplished as they’d like. And, so being the powerhouses we are, we tend to feel guilty that we aren’t getting things done because we just feel so tired and lazy.
And, those guilt feelings kind of compound things. We start to feel guilty and maybe even depressed. And that’s the worst thing for us because our emotions contribute to our physical health and vice versa.
But, just remember one thing - You’re a Goddess!
Give yourself a break and just go with it. It’s all part of the process.
What Causes Tiredness In Pregnancy?
While some women are fortunate enough to feel very little fatigue during pregnancy, the truth is that most women will feel somewhat more tired than usual while they’re expecting. This is especially true during the first trimester because tiredness is one of the first signs of being pregnant.
Let’s break it down trimester by trimester.
Pregnancy Fatigue During The First Trimester
When you first become pregnant, your hormones are going haywire. Your progesterone hormones increase in early pregnancy and often play a big part in why you feel so tired and sleep so much during your first trimester.
And don’t forget morning sickness! Ugh! That’s enough to make any woman tired.
In addition, your heart pumps harder to help your body produce more blood so that nutrients easily make their way to your baby. Speaking of those vital nutrients, you’re now sharing them with your baby.
This can make your own body short on vitamins and minerals, like iron. This is why it’s so important that you take those multi-vitamins while you’re pregnant.
And if your doctor prescribes an iron pill to help counteract your iron loss, be a big girl and take them because trust me - you don’t want to have to battle iron-deficiency anemia along with normal pregnancy fatigue. I’ve been down that road before and it’s not as easy to overcome.
Add fluctuating blood sugar and blood pressure levels to the mix and it’s enough for your body to scream, “Enough!”
Sometimes these physical changes cause you to be a little emotional and one might affect the other.
But, don’t despair. It’s not forever. While all these changes happening in your body are a little distressing at times, it’s all a normal and natural part of being pregnant.
Pregnancy Fatigue During The Second Trimester
The second semester is often the easiest trimester when you’re pregnant. Many pregnant women also experience more happiness because they feel more like themselves and have better energy levels.
Because many women feel better during the middle trimester, they’re busy preparing for their baby - getting the nursery ready, having gender-reveal parties, and buying tiny little outfits for their baby. And all this excitement feeds those happy hormones.
But, it can also make you tired. Even though you shouldn’t be as tired as you were during your first trimester, be aware that it’s still normal to have a little fatigue during this time.
Pregnancy Fatigue During The Third Trimester
Your second trimester was likely full of excitement with all that extra burst of energy. So, you’re more dismayed when you start to feel tired again. And not tired, but utterly exhausted.
Remember, by this time, it’s like you’ve got a basketball in your belly, only your baby weighs more than that. You’re carrying around a whole lot of extra weight that you’re not used to dealing with.
You're probably having a hard time finding a comfortable position to sleep in, so you’re tossing and turning and not getting a good night’s rest. And you’re probably spending more time in the bathroom than you care to because your bladder is always full.
Don’t worry. You’re in the home stretch and it’s the last trimester of your pregnancy. This pregnancy fatigue that you’re feeling should come to an end soon once you give birth to your baby.
How To Combat Pregnancy Fatigue
It’s good to know that there are a few simple steps you can take to combat your fatigue while you’re pregnant.
- Eat a healthy diet. So, okay, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, you’ll crave crazy things when you’re pregnant and there’s no harm in a little ice cream and pickles. But, the mainstay of your diet should be nutrient-dense foods like organic fruits and vegetables (think berries, leafy greens, and Brussel sprouts) and iron-rich proteins like beans, eggs, and meat (liver if you can stomach it). Avoid cereals and white bread because you’ll crash and feel even more tired. Eat a low-fat diet and stay hydrated. You’ll be surprised how eating healthy can increase your energy levels. You want to replace all those nutrients you’re sharing with your baby.
- Give it a rest. It’s okay to give in and allow yourself the extra rest you need. Try taking a nap or two during the day if possible. All you need is short 20 to 30-minute spurts to give your body a little extra rest. Take some time to soak your tired, aching feet. Before bedtime is a good time because it’ll dissolve the stresses of the day and promote a good night’s sleep. Avoid binge-watching your favorite Netflix shows at all hours of the night. Try to get to bed a little earlier than you’re used to. While you should stay hydrated during the day, try to avoid drinking anything within a couple of hours of bedtime. This way, you won’t have to get up as much during the night to pee. You need quality rest and sleep. Just try to make sure you’re getting at least eight or nine hours of sleep each night.
- Exercise when you can. True, there will be times you’ll feel like an outside force is holding you down and you’ll just be too tired to move. But, take advantage of any energy you do have and try some moderate exercises. Exercise might even help you feel more energetic and it’s also proven to help you sleep better. A 20 to 30-minute walk or some light yoga can do wonders to increase those energy levels. Before embarking on an exercise regimen, talk to your OBGYN about it to make sure it’s okay.
- Prioritize your commitments. When you’re pregnant, there’s nothing more important than your health and that of your baby’s. Sometimes we’re accustomed to thriving at everything. But pregnancy is demanding in and of itself. You may want to consider cutting your hours at work and minimizing any extra-curricular activities. Don’t be afraid to ask your family and friends to help out when you feel overwhelmed and drained.
- Limit caffeine. Or better yet, avoid it altogether. But, if you can’t forego your morning Starbucks, limit your caffeine consumption to 1 ½ cups of coffee a day, or 200 milligrams. This is the cutoff limit recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Caffeine and other stimulants during pregnancy can interfere with your sleep and cause mood swings, leading to more exhaustion.
- Keep appointments and stay on recommended supplements. Make sure to keep all checkups with your health provider. Your practitioner will monitor you and can sometimes pick up a problem before you do. Staying on top of your appointments can mean the difference between a borderline iron measurement and one that falls below normal levels. The American Pregnancy Association says up to 25% of pregnant women become iron-deficient. Take all prescribed supplements, including your prenatal vitamins and iron tablets. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Just remember that it’s normal to experience a certain amount of tiredness when you’re pregnant. It’s par for the course.
Relax, don’t expect too much from yourself right now, and just concentrate on staying healthy during your pregnancy. Carrying a baby is a tremendous effort all on its own. You deserve to just take it easy and listen to your body. Soon enough, your little reward will be here.
American Pregnancy Association, Anemia During Pregnancy, October 2019.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Moderate Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy, August 2010.
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Fatigue in early pregnancy. An exploratory study, 1991.
National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, Fatigue during the first trimester of pregnancy, October 1986.
- Phyllis Breaux