Fatigue during pregnancy is another level of tired. During my first trimester, it felt like I was sedated. I couldn’t function if I didn’t close my eyes and sleep for hours during the day — mind you, I didn’t have any toddlers running around to take care of, which would only make it that much more exhausting.
I’m sure you know how important sleep is during pregnancy, not just for you but also for your baby. However, there are many factors that interfere with a good night’s sleep when you’re pregnant — insomnia, discomfort in the low back, hips, and/or pelvis, restlessness, and poor digestion to name a few.
Here are my top suggestions for managing extreme tiredness and fatigue during pregnancy and improving your energy levels:
Take naps: naps are essential for your body’s recovery and the baby’s growth and you don’t have to nap for very long to reap the benefits — 30-45 minutes is the perfect amount of time to rest during the day and give you that boost of energy without making you feel even more tired when you wake up.
Optimize your sleep posture: to prevent hip and pelvic pain, try placing a pillow between your legs when sleeping on your side, and you can also place a pillow behind your back to offer you some comfort and prevent you from rolling over. Also, make sure your neck pillow is designed for side-sleeping. You may have to switch this up now that you’re expecting! As a side-sleeper myself, I use the Casper original pillow and I love it.
Reset your biological clock: try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. You will need to do this consistently for at least 14 days to make it a habit. It’s also helpful to have complete darkness when sleeping as it will allow you to fall into REM sleep — that special time that allows your brain to recover from the day. You can also try wearing a sleeping mask to block out any light. I personally love the Slip silk sleep masks.
Improve your digestion: eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid overwhelming your system and stick to whole foods instead of highly-processed foods and refined sugars that can cause digestive discomfort at night and blood sugar crashes during the day. One supplement that has helped my digestion during pregnancy is Magnesium citrate. I take one tbsp of Cal Mag at night as recommended by my Naturopath. If you are thinking about trying supplements, I recommend visiting your Naturopath for a prescription that won’t interfere with your current prenatal vitamins and any medications you are taking!
Get your iron levels checked: I’ve struggled with anemia for a long time and it’s only gotten worse during pregnancy. With my red blood cell count and hemoglobin levels at all-time lows, I’ve been feeling extra sleepy, dizzy, and faint. I was previously taking FeraMAX 150mg every day, but it made my morning sickness and constipation so much worse during my first trimester. I have since switched to Ferosom Forte 20mg and I haven’t been experiencing any of the negative side effects. I’m also taking 3 capsules of NFH Prenatal Sap containing 30mg of iron total. I try to take my iron at lunchtime and prenatals at night to decrease the risk of these side effects. If you’re not sure about whether your iron levels are low, see your provider for a blood test and ask them for recommendations on iron supplements if you are struggling with iron-deficiency during pregnancy.
Exercise regularly: exercise does wonders for your body that you can’t always see or measure. Not only does it help to improve your quality of sleep, which gives you more energy and makes you feel less tired during the day, but also helps to prevent low back, hip, and pelvic pain which can make it difficult to sleep at night. I recommend working out for 20-30 minutes at least 3x per week — this can be any type of movement you enjoy — and walking for 30 minutes at least 5x/week. Click here to learn about my Preparing for Birth live and on-demand prenatal fitness program with specialized classes designed to suit every week of your pregnancy (added bonus, all of my classes are safe for your core and pelvic floor!).
Minimize your caffeine intake: this one seems obvious because we need to limit our caffeine intake during pregnancy anyway, but aside from affecting the baby, caffeine can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle, worsen your insomnia, and keep you awake at night making you more tired the next day. Your energy levels may not be affected right away, but they can slowly deteriorate with prolonged and excessive use of caffeine. Try going a week without coffee and see how you feel! You can also try switching to decaf in the afternoon and reducing your overall intake while still enjoying that morning cup.
Manage your stress levels: stress negatively impacts your digestion and sleep, but it also contributes to burnout, muscle tension, and mental exhaustion over time. Try building a relaxing nighttime routine: take a warm bath, stay away from your phone at least an hour before bed, lather yourself in a pregnancy-safe body oil (I love this one from Evereden), and listen to a 10-minute sleep meditation before drifting off to sleep. You can also try booking a prenatal massage or acupuncture appointment to help alleviate any pain that is worsening your stress and keeping you awake at night.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: dehydration can make you very tired. Keep a water bottle close by and track your water intake (aim for 2 litres/day). If you’re awful at tracking your water intake like me, this bottle from Bink is designed for mamas and makes it easy to stay on top of your necessary water intake (this is also a great gift to go on your registry!). Remember that herbal teas and electrolyte mixes also contribute to your water intake, so you can try switching it up if water is making you nauseous.
Nutrition: adequate energy and nutrient intake is essential for your baby’s development, to fuel your exercise and recovery, and to give you the energy to meet the day’s demands. If you struggle with nutrition and find yourself reaching for processed, easy-to-access snacks a little too frequently, it’s time to reassess your food intake and start nourishing your body with whole foods to help improve your energy levels, sleep, mental wellbeing, and so much more. For prenatal nutrition coaching and workshops, I recommend Certified Nutritionists Carly and Laila from @ebbandflownutrition.
For more prenatal pelvic health + wellness education, subscribe to my mailing list and follow me on social.
Have questions about pelvic floor health, prenatal fitness, and more? Click here to get in touch.