For many women, fatigue is a constant complaint during pregnancy. And when you think about all that your body has to do during those nine months – namely, form and nurture another human being – it’s no wonder you aren’t even more fatigued. But whether you’re feeling a little slow, kind of weary, or entirely wiped out; take heart because there are plenty of ways you can help yourself feel better. For instance:
Get adequate rest: This may seem like a no-brainer, but pregnancy is really one of those times when you really, really need to listen to your body. If you feel like taking an afternoon nap (and you can afford to do so), take a nap. If you’re ready to go to bed by 7:00, go to bed, even if your usual bedtime is closer to 11:00. And try as hard as you can to get a good night’s sleep, which means making yourself as comfortable as possible and eliminating outside noises and distractions.
Exercise: Though it may seem like the last thing you feel like doing right now, exercise can lift your mood and boost your energy levels. Of course you always want to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program while you are pregnant. But if you have your doctor’s OK, try to get yourself moving whenever you can. Even a brief walk in the sunshine may give you energy you didn’t know you had.
Eat right: Whenever you’re tempted to dive into some junk food, take a moment and think about all of the hard work that your body has to do to develop a healthy baby. Bad eating habits deny both you and your baby the kind of high-quality calories that you both need for nutrition and energy. You will probably feel more fatigued if you eat too many foods with empty calories like white bread, potato chips, French fries, or cookies. Instead, try to focus on eating plenty of whole-grain foods, and also fruits, vegetables, and beans and nuts. Refined foods and sugary foods are digested quickly and may leave you feeling listless and hungry for more food; while complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and will leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied.
Cut the caffeine: Caffeine may work as a quick fix to get you going, but its effect fades quickly, and the jury is still out on how much caffeine is really safe for your baby.
Get your iron checked: Sometimes fatigue during pregnancy may stem from low levels of iron. If you are concerned, have your iron levels checked. Also remember to eat plenty of iron-rich foods, including spinach, broccoli, beef, beans, or enriched cereals.
Change your schedule: This may seem like a luxury, but if you are truly fatigued, and if it is possible for you to make a schedule change, it may be a lifesaver. Can you reduce your work hours? Can you cut back to part-time work? Do you need to shift your work schedule to earlier in the morning, or later in the evening (based on when you have the most energy)? Do you need to make your schedule more predictable, so that, for instance, you’re not working until 7 pm one night and 2 am the next night? If you need a break, don’t be shy about looking for ways to get one.
If you have tried everything and you continue to be extremely fatigued, or more fatigued than normal, let your doctor know so that he or she can rule out any potential problems, including depression. Above all, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your body is doing the most important job in the world – growing your baby – and once the job is finished, you will probably be back to your old self very soon.