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Fighting Fatigue During Pregnancy

Dianna Graveman |23, January 2012


Fighting Fatigue During Pregnancy

During the first trimester, most mothers-to-be often feel very tired. This is likely due to the rise in progesterone and other hormonal changes. Nausea and so-called "morning sickness" can add to these feelings of exhaustion.

As the pregnancy progresses, you may feel the need to use the bathroom at various internals during the night, further disrupting your sleep. Although many pregnant women feel their best during the second trimester, fatigue often returns by the seventh month. Weight gain, frequent trips to the bathroom, and other physical discomforts like leg cramps or heartburn may contribute to the sensation of being tired. In addition to your body preparing itself for labor and birth, your mind may be overly-active with the excitement new motherhood brings.

With all of these bodily changes and plans for the new arrival, how can you make sure you get enough rest so that you're ready for the big day and busy months to come?

It may sound like common sense, but take a short nap during the day, if possible. Even 15 minutes will help. Go to bed earlier than usual so that frequent awakenings will not cause you to lose a lot of sleep each night.

If you work outside the home and can't cut back on hours, make sure to catch up on rest during the weekends. Limit your plans in the evenings; your friends and family members will understand--especially during the first and third trimesters. Hopefully you've had the opportunity to stock up on some personal days or sick leave leading up to the pregnancy. If so, consider taking a day off when you need one. If you are a stay-at-home parent and have other children, invite a grandparent or trusted caregiver to give you a day off.

Don't fret about housework, laundry, groceries, and other tasks. Let your spouse do his share or ask a family member for help. Remember that toasted cheese sandwiches and canned tomato soup make a tasty meal--save the gourmet menu items and recipe experiments for later.

During pregnancy, your body needs about 300 additional calories each day. Make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid the junk food. Boost your energy with a diet high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Avoid too much sugar--you may get a quick boost, but you'll feel even more tired later when the effect wears off. Especially during the third trimester, when even a small amount of food can make you feel full, try eating six small meals a day instead of three larger ones. Not only will this help you take in enough calories, but it will keep your blood sugar and energy level more consistent.

Drink plenty of water every day and avoid caffeine. If you must cut back on fluid intake to avoid using the bathroom too many times during the night, do that a few hours before bedtime, but continue to drink water throughout the day.

Take a short walk at least one each day. The exercise will probably perk up your mood thanks to the release of endorphins, but it may also tire you enough to help you sleep better at night. Swimming, yoga, and Pilates can also provide a stress-reducing workout, but always check with your healthcare provider before undertaking any new exercise routine. Remember to take deep breaths when you exercise. If you have a desk job, plan to get up and move about at least once every hour.

Some women find aromatherapy oils help them relax and de-stress so that they can sleep better. A warm, soothing bath might help, too!

If you take measures to control your fatigue and find it is still unmanageable, or if you continue to experience extreme fatigue during the second trimester, talk with your health care provider to rule out iron-deficiency anemia. Always mention symptoms such as weakness, fainting, or shortness of breath. However, remember that it is possible to be mildly anemic without exhibiting these or any other symptoms.

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