Feeling tired is common during pregnancy – particularly in the first trimester and third trimesters. It’s your body (and baby’s) way of telling you to slow down. However, if your fatigue becomes overwhelming, there may be other issues at play. Here’s a list to look out for and discuss with your healthcare provider.
- Nutrient deficiency: According to Red Tent Health Centre for Women, extreme tiredness can be linked to a deficiency in iron, which in turn can result in anaemia. B12 is another common deficiency – particularly if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Other deficiencies include iodine, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D.
- It’s your hormones. In early pregnancy, the increase in progesterone can cause fatigue. These changes can also impact your breathing, which can result in snoring (which can lessen the quality of your sleep).
- The need to pee. During pregnancy, your kidneys produce a lot of urine. Remember, you are managing your own waste, as well as your baby’s. Plus, as your pregnancy progresses (and your baby grows), the pressure against your bladder increases, reducing its volume. This increases your need to wake at night – when you need sleep the most.
- Digestion woes. Pregnancy impacts that second brain – your gut – resulting in nausea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, reflux, flatulence and abnormal bowel movements. If your gut isn’t working like it should, it makes it harder to convert the food you eat into energy.
- Pain and discomfort: As your body shifts and moves to accommodate your growing baby, this can cause pain and discomfort, including back and neck pain, headaches, leg cramps and pubic symphysis pain. Plus, as you head into the final trimester, you may be more aware of your baby’s movements, particularly as there is less space. All of these elements can impact a good night’s sleep.
- Overflow of emotions. Let’s be honest, having a baby is one of the biggest changes of your life (whether it’s your first or third). It changes your body, your home, your relationship, career and lifestyle – and this changes your identity. It’s a lot to process, which can keep you up at night. It’s common to feel anxious or unsure during pregnancy, but if this becomes something more serious, speak to your doctor.
What you can do:
The American Pregnancy Association offers the following tips:
- If you are tired, there is no shame in going to bed a little earlier, or trying to get a nap in during the day.
- Watch what you drink. Try to avoid fluids (if you can) just before bed to cut down your need to get up at night.
- Eat clean. Cut down on sugar and those bad fats, and rather focus on fresh, seasonal produce, wholefoods and proteins. Eating healthy meals helps with your energy levels. Make sure to stay hydrated during the day.
- Maintain moderate exercise. It may be the last thing you want to do, particularly if you are tired. However, moderate exercise like swimming or a 30-minute walk can help you feel more energised.
Speak to your healthcare provider if your fatigue continues and you’re concerned.
Did you know? The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists states that a moderate amount of caffeine (no more than 200mg or 1.5 cups) a day will not have an adverse effect on your baby or result in preterm birth. However, it can impact your sleep and moods.
Kim Bell is a wife, mother of two teenagers and a lover of research and the way words flow and meld together. She has been in the media industry for over 20 years, and yet still learns more about life from her children everyday.