Like mood swings and morning sickness, one of the many symptoms that women can expect to experience during their pregnancy is increased fatigue.
"For some women, fatigue may be overwhelming. And some women may only notice it every now and then but, generally, women can expect to feel more tired than usual during their pregnancy, especially during their first and third trimesters," says Ashley Cautillo, CNM, WHNP-BC, certified nurse midwife at Riddle OB/GYN Associates.
Unfortunately, in between juggling busy careers, families and relationships, it can be difficult to put life on hold for nine months. Instead, many women are left trying to find ways to combat or cope with their fatigue while still maintaining a busy schedule.
Here are our top tips for coping with pregnancy-related fatigue.
1. Get some rest
You may not be the type of person who is used to taking a mid-morning nap or turning down plans with friends in favor of relaxing on the couch. But rest is best when you're feeling more tired than usual.
"Listen to your body, and if you're feeling like you need to take a short nap or rest for awhile, give your body the break it's asking for," says Ms. Cautillo.
2. Work in daily exercise
If you're feeling tired, why would you possibly want to exercise?
"Staying active during your pregnancy can actually help reduce your feelings of fatigue and keep you energized throughout the day," says Ms. Cautillo.
If your morning run or workout class feels too intense, a brisk 30-minute walk or low-intensity exercise, like swimming or cycling, is enough to do the trick. And although most exercise routines are safe during pregnancy, be sure to check with your OB/GYN provider or midwife before beginning any routine.
3. Eat a nutritious diet
Nutrition also plays an important role in regulating your energy levels. As an expectant mother, you'll be taking roughly 300 extra calories every day. Make sure you're looking to the right sources for those calories, like grains, lean meats and fruits and veggies. Also, reach for healthy snacks like yogurt, nuts or cheese and whole grain crackers.
In addition to eating right, make sure you're staying hydrated. Skip soda and coffee in favor of a ice water or water infused with fruit.
4. Adjust your schedule
During pregnancy, it's normal to feel like you're tired all the time. But pay attention to when you're especially tired during the day. Is it when you get home at night, or do you have a harder time waking up in the morning? Is midday the most difficult time? As often as possible, try to plan your schedule around these peaks and valleys.
For example, your employer may be willing to let you shift your hours to starting later in the day and working later at night if mornings are difficult. If you find yourself hitting a slump midday, try to avoid making plans with friends for lunch, and instead choose breakfast or a late afternoon coffee date.
Even with these preventative measures in place, chances are that—at some point—you'll find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open at work, at home or in the middle of dinner with friends. During those times, there are a few things you can do.
"If you find yourself feeling tired and you need to wake up, try some simple stretching and deep breathing," says Ms. Cautillo. "If it's possible, go for a walk, even if it's just to the restroom. Splash some cold water on your face or walk outside for fresh air."
Remember, fatigue is a normal part of pregnancy and friends and family understand that you're dealing with it to the best of your ability. If you have questions about your fatigue, what's normal, and what's not, ask your OB/GYN.
Schedule an appointment with Ashley Cautillo, CNM, WHNP-BC
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