Here's how to deal with exhaustion during pregnancy.
Fatigue and tiredness are some of the most common symptoms experienced through the first trimester of pregnancy. As if nausea wasn't enough, pregnancy fatigue can be extremely debilitating, leaving you feeling exhausted—both mentally and physically—for weeks on end.
As we share in The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama, there are several reasons that you may feel extra wiped out during pregnancy. First, your body is diverting a lot of its energy to growing a human (and their placenta), supporting that growth with more blood, and helping your baby eliminate what they don't need. This is a lot of work.
Progesterone can also make you sleepy—and you have lots of it circulating during your pregnancy.
In addition, as your pregnancy progresses, it can be harder to find a comfortable position to sleep in. And once you do, you are likely to be awoken by the need to pee or from a kick to the ribs from your baby. Lastly, if you've cut down on or given up caffeine during your pregnancy, that doesn't help the fatigue situation much either.
If you are feeling extra tired these days, talk to your doctor or midwife—sometimes fatigue during pregnancy can be a sign of a medical condition, and you want to make sure nothing serious is going on.
Once you've been cleared, the good news is that there are ways to improve your pregnancy fatigue!
Here are 5 lifestyle adjustments you can make to fight pregnancy fatigue and feel more rested.
1. Get more sleep.
Okay, we know—duh. But there's science behind this seemingly obvious piece of advise. While all adults should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, pregnant women need to add 1 to 2 hours to that. Simply put, you need more sleep when you are pregnant. It is crucial to listen to your body so when your body is tired, sleep.
This includes adding naps into your routine (you're welcome). Nap as often as you can. Even if they are only 15 minutes long, naps can add a great deal of energy to your reserve. Research says that naps during pregnancy are healthy for you and the baby, so enjoy your slumber guilt-free.
2. Get moving.
If nausea hasn't left you completely out of commission, exercise is another great way to battle pregnancy fatigue. Once you've gotten the green light from your health care provider, exercise during pregnancy is considered safe and beneficial, and can help you to feel less tired.
The feel-good endorphins released when exercising can help increase energy and take your mind off the exhaustion. Attending a prenatal yoga class or enjoying a low intensity walk outside will provide a nice boost as well; just be sure to always listen to your body when engaging in any form of exercise.
3. Eat small, frequent meals.
Try to get into the habit of eating small, frequent meals throughout your pregnancy. Your body is processing food differently now. You are sending extra glucose (a form of sugar) to your baby to help them develop, which can make it easier for you to feel tired, or even light-headed.
Having a more constant supply of delicious energy may help you feel more awake. Here are the 10 most important foods to eat during pregnancy.
4. Say 'no'.
One of the most effective ways to combat pregnancy fatigue is to remove any unnecessary tasks from your plate—learning to say no might not be easy, but it's great practice for when the baby comes. Household chores can be the first to go on your to-do list during the first trimester.
Part of embracing "no" is learning to shift your mindset. We live in a go-go-go culture that thrives on the ideal of being "productive." Many of us are so used to pushing ourselves that it is virtually impossible to step on the brakes when something big comes along—like pregnancy. Remember that the work you are currently doing is the very definition of productivity. You are making a person (or several, maybe). You deserve to sleep, guilt-free.
5. Lean on family + friends.
The icky symptoms of the first trimester can be downright dismal; there are no two ways about it. Therefore, don't hesitate to scream “YES!" to offers of help from family and friends, whether it's by accepting a home cooked meal, allowing someone to run a few errands on your behalf or simply enjoying a supportive chat on the phone. Now is the time to take the help.
You deserve a break every now and then. Whether you're fighting pregnancy fatigue, nausea, back pain or any of the additional pregnancy symptoms, give yourself grace. The dishes and laundry can wait. Focus on nourishing yourself while you prepare to welcome a new baby into the world. There is a reason your body is asking you to slow down, just listen.
Here are a few of our favorite items to help you get the rest you need during pregnancy:
This comforter from Sunday Citizen is a bestseller for a reason. It's double-sided, so you can choose which feel you're in the mood for: soft snug fabric or lightweight brushed microfiber fabric. Plus, it's machine-washable and they guarantee it will stay just as soft as it is on the first day forever.
If a catnap under a light blanket is calling your name, these gorgeous throws from Hawkins New York are a must. Made of Belgian linen, it will look beautiful draped over your sofa or bed when not in use (though that won't be very often).
Finding a comfortable position to sleep in when you're pregnant can be challenging. But with the help of an awesome pregnancy pillow, it's easy! This one was designed by an OB/GYN with Belly Bandit, and it's perfection. It's made of smushy-soft foam and can be adjusted to fit your growing belly exactly.
Lavender is known and loved for its sleep-inducing benefits so create a nightly ritual of lathering your belly with Esker's lavender oil. It's non-greasy and made with great ingredients like Vitamin E and A-rich sea buckthorn and grapeseed oils.
A portion of this article is excerpted from The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama.
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