Pregnancy Fatigue


When it comes to being pregnant, morning sickness is just the beginning. Aches and pains, as well as fatigue are just apart of being pregnant and soon take over. Fatigue makes you feel tired and unmotivated. Plus it contributes to other feelings such as mood swings, nausea and low self-esteem. Being pregnant puts a strain on your entire body and fatigue is very common, especially during the early and late stages of being pregnant.

Let’s go over the causes of fatigue during pregnancy, and what you can do to help reduce the tiredness and worn out feelings you will experience for the next 9 months.

Causes of Fatigue

The number one cause of fatigue early in the pregnancy is due to the hormone progesterone that is being produced rapidly. Progesterone is known to make you feel sluggish and tired, especially when levels are increased. Plus, your body is making more blood to provide nutrients to your developing baby, causing organs like your heart to go into overdrive and make you sleepy. On top of that, your body is changing the way it processes food and nutrients, causing more stress and fatigue.

As these hormones continuously mess with your mental state, your stress levels fluctuate, which takes a toll on the rest of your body and makes you feel tired. However, this usually begins to decrease as the first trimester comes to a close and the second trimester begins. If you are feeling fatigued by the second week of your second trimester, you should notify your health care provider, as this symptom should have done a disappearing act until later.

As your third trimester begins, you and your baby are gaining weight rapidly, causing more stress on your back, legs, respiratory system and bladder. With all of these physical changes taking place, fatigue returns. You’re finding yourself up throughout the night with leg pains and trips to the restroom.  Keeping your eyes open during the day seems trying for most pregnant women in their last trimester, so it’s important you do a few things to help.

Another cause that affects up to 50% of pregnant women is anemia, especially iron-deficient anemia. Fatigue is a symptom of this condition as your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that enables the cells to carry oxygen to your tissues and to your baby. An expectant mother’s need for iron greatly increases during pregnancy, due to the needs of the baby, the increase in blood produced by your body, and the blood loss that occurs during delivery. There are symptoms to watch for to tell if you are suffering from anemia, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, weakness, irregular heartbeat and pale skin.

Treatment for Fatigue

Unfortunately there isn’t a prescription your doctor can give you to help relieve fatigue. It’s one of those things expectant mothers have to expect while they’re pregnant. Your doctor will more than likely prescribe a little R & R (rest and relaxation). Here are some things you can do throughout your days and nights to help reduce the amount of fatigue you may be feeling.

Rest Often – Get as much rest as possible, whenever you can. If you feel tired during the day, take a nap. It’s amazing what 15-20 minutes of a little shut-eye can do. If you have to work and luckily have an office, shut the door and put your head down for a few minutes. Grab a little rest as often as you can. If you’re tired, rest. Don’t force yourself to stay awake until your normal bedtime, go to sleep.

Exercise – As tired as you are, a little exercise can actually amp you up again. Take a short walk, or do pelvic rocks. It seems contradictive, but it really does work. Avoid major, long term exercise routines, as this will only add to your fatigue in the moment. Keep it short and sweet.

Eat properly – As an expectant mother, you only need an extra 300 calories a day. Instead of using these calories on refined sugars, eat fruits and veggies for snacks. Eating these small portions will keep your energy levels where they need to be.

Avoid liquids before sleeping – Never avoid liquids throughout your day, just reduce your intake the last hour or two before you go to bed. This will reduce the amount of times you have to get up to use the restroom during the night when you’re trying to get your normal sleep time in.

Tell people – Keep your partner, family, friends and other children involved with your feelings and emotions. Keeping them informed can help them understand what you are going through better. If you hide your feelings of fatigue, it can make it difficult for your loved ones to sympathize with you.

[Page updated March 2015]