A woman’s body is going through a lot during the 38-42 weeks of pregnancy (and while we’re at it, let’s be honest, it’s not really nine months, it’s a heck of a lot closer to 10). Extreme fatigue is very common in pregnancy, particularly during the first and final trimesters. In the early weeks of pregnancy exhaustion can be blamed on hormones, particularly the notable rise in progesterone.
Women who experience nausea or morning sickness may also blame this for their sudden and noted drop in energy. This can be even more tiring for parents who have other kids to care for, as they may not have the same luxury of resting when pregnancy is burning them out.
Later in pregnancy the tired feeling is a little bit different. Most women are carrying around an additional 15-45 pounds of weight, which in itself can be exhausting. In addition to this added weight the expanding uterus is quite literally shifting internal organs, which creates even more strain for the mom to be.
All of this discomfort also often leads to sleep issues, which can increase the general feeling of fatigue. This being said, when we’re pregnant we try to be more healthy, and this means that reaching for several espressos or a can of chemically enhanced energy drink isn’t going to be a safe option to get through the day without falling asleep under your desk, or keep you from meaningfully engaging in your other work and family life.
The good news is that there are many solutions that don’t involve a shot of caffeine, but can help restore some of your energy, whether it’s early days of pregnancy, or you’re counting down the very last days until your little one arrives from out of your belly and into your arms.
During the last trimester of pregnancy the last thing that any woman wants is additional trips to the bathroom, however dehydration makes us tired, and by drinking a few extra glasses of water a day people can expect an increase in energy and decrease in fatigue.
It is recommended that pregnant women consume at least eight to 12 eight ounce glasses of water each day, and even more when engaging in physical activity or in very hot weather. Not sure whether or not you’re dehydrated? Look at the color of your urine, light colored urine indicates that you’re getting enough H20, if it’s darker than that, bottoms up!
A well-balanced diet helps give all of us energy, not just when you’re pregnant. By ensuring you are eating healthy meals on a regular basis you can increase your energy level. If your pregnancy has meat making you feel a little queasy consider noshing on some nuts to increase your protein intake. Almonds and peanuts are both high in magnesium and folic acid, good for both you and your little bean!
Not to mention that once the baby is here, this diet will also help aid in your milk production. So if you can get a handle on eating more protein or finding ways to add some into your diet you'll be ready to breastfeed and eating pretty healthy at the same time. There are a plethora of recipes at your fingertips on Pinterest if you need some inspiration.
There’s a reason why certain scents get our attention. Consider taking a whiff of some energizing smells to get you back on track. Simple items that you may have in your pantry such as cinnamon sticks or mint can help combat the yawns for some people.
Aroma therapists believe that scents including orange, rosemary and lemon will increase your energy and invigorate you, whereas you can use other scents such as lavender, chamomile, or sandalwood to help you get a better night’s sleep. You can get scented oils, lotions or candles to set the mood for your rest and awake needs!
You know how that particular mix of songs helps you master a tougher workout? That’s because music can enhance your mood and decrease your stress levels. When you’re feeling burnt out or frazzled consider singing or listening to an upbeat favorite jam.
Relatively new research shows why music and physical activity pair together so well, because according to Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London it can be seen as a, “type of legal performance-enhancing drug.”
The most important parts of music increasing your performance (and energy) include tempo or speed of the piece, causing a “rhythm response” as well as what type of music personally excites you. Some suggest that people tend to favor rhythm at 120 beats per minute, so crank it up!
Many work buildings have recycled air pumping through the vents, which can make anyone tired! Get outside and get some fresh air! Even just a few minutes of being outside and getting fresh air can do you wonders, like what you’d get in walking around the block. Walking on a clear and sunny day particularly can enhance your mood and energy levels.
Can’t get outside? Consider opening up the blinds or moving to work in a space with a little more sunlight while you go about your day to day tasks. Getting as much vitamin D as you can will help restore your energy and ultimately put you in a better mood.
Exercise is a natural energy enhancer because it literally pumps oxygen through your body including your heart, brain and lungs. You don’t need to be practicing 30 or more minutes at a time, particularly when you’re very pregnant and already exhausted; sparing just 10 minutes at a time to go for a walk several times a day will help increase your energy.
Since your centre of gravity is constantly changing during pregnancy consider enjoying walking or swimming, at a pace that you could maintain conversation as your best bet for keeping fit, and awake. Exercise also increases the amount of serotonin in your brain which also makes you feel happier.
You know how a big meal can make you tired? By preparing several smaller meals to enjoy during the day you can avoid stuffing yourself into a food coma. The same could be said of running on empty, particularly if you’re suffering from nausea, the increase in frequency and decrease and size of meals can literally keep your engine revving.
Snacks that combine protein with slower burning carbs (think banana slices with some almond butter or granola with some berries) help keep your blood sugar stabilized all day long. The more often you eat, the less likely you'll feel sick to your stomach or close to having a hypoglycemic induced food binge that will ultimately leave you feeling ill.
Regular testing for levels of iron and other blood tests to determine your general health and well-being are essential to a healthy pregnancy. While you should already be taking a prenatal vitamin, be sure to have your blood work run regularly, particularly if you are experiencing any extreme and ongoing health symptoms during your pregnancy.
This can allow your doctor to help determine the best course of action to keep everything at a healthy level, in pregnancy and beyond. These blood tests can detect low iron levels and problems with your thyroid which can both cause tiredness. Once these issues have been discovered, the doctor can prescribe iron pills or thyroid medication to stop the tiredness from consuming your pregnancy.
If you improve the quality of sleep you’re getting in the evening, this may increase your energy levels overall, especially during the day when you need it the most! Extra pillows or specialty body pillows and wedges may help with aches and pains in your back (particularly if you put them between your knees) and help you get more rest.
Consider turning off electronics at least an hour before bed to get yourself to dreamland a little faster, sleep masks, thicker curtains, or white noise machines to help you get the sleep you need overnight.
Still tired? Try going to bed a little bit early each night, particularly in the first trimester when your body is creating the placenta when you’re bound to be extra zonked!
Taking naps are good for you. A power nap (10 to 20 minutes total), or several power naps to replace your coffee breaks can help increase your alertness and energy. Many believe that a 30 minute nap is the least restorative sleep as it can cause a groggy feeling for up to half an hour after you wake up.
On weekends or in the early evening when you’re absolutely knackered, consider a longer 90 minute nap which will give you a full cycle of sleep including both lighter and deeper stages of sleep to help energize you.
You can even take time at work to take the naps you need if you find yourself needing a boost of energy fro the afternoon. To make these nap times more comfortable you can bring a small pillow to make resting at your desk more comfortable.
You know that craving for something sweet that many of us get at around three or four in the afternoon to get us through the rest of the day? It may be doing more harm than help. Sugar laden treats will give you a temporary energy boost, but once that goes away, and your blood sugar drops again, you may find yourself more tired than before.
A better choice may be a piece of fruit with some cheese or a yogurt that will take longer to digest and provide a longer burn of energy. Not to mention that these food items also have essential vitamins and nutrients your baby could use to develop their vision, brain and more. If you have trouble giving up your favorite sugary item, try to find a medium road that won't totally sap you of your energy.
Being busy doesn’t mean that you’re being productive, you may very well be booking yourself into complete burnout!
Take a look at your calendar and make sure that you aren’t overbooking yourself, both professionally and socially! Focus on less commitment where you can and keep up the “fun” appointments like catching up with an old friend, because these activities will actually help recharge you.
As for volunteering for your child’s fundraiser, maybe donate some cash to the cause instead of two evenings spent organizing the silent auction and put your feet up instead! Although you can't really store up rest, learning to take it easy and not over-stressing yourself will go a long way to helping you feel refreshed.
Yoga can increase your flexibility as well as improve your posture and energy levels, mainly because good posture improves lung capacity, something that is needed, particularly in later days of pregnancy.
You can attend specialty prenatal classes or simply perform a few pregnancy specific poses to help your yoga practice as well as get you ready for labor (including Standing Mountain, Extended Side Angle Pose, and Cat/Cow Pose). Using Acupressure to press on the pad between the joint of your thumb and your index finger for three minutes on each hand is said to be a near instant way to increase your energy.
Sometimes there is really nothing like a cup of coffee or a cola to get your head out of dreamland and back in the game, just enjoy in moderation. It is safe to enjoy a small amount of caffeine in your daily diet when pregnant, in fact it is safe to have up to 200 milligrams of caffeine each day when you are pregnant, that’s about one 12 ounce cup of coffee.
If you’re still worried about having caffeine consider talking to your health care practitioner to determine what’s right for you, your body, and baby! There are other foods that may be able to provide you with the pick me up that you need to help you get up and go and maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
I’ve recently rediscovered the joys and rejuvenating qualities that splashing some cold water on your face has. A cold splash of water has become key to calming down my daughter when she gets overwhelmed, overtired, and has been crying.
Thankfully a splash of cool water works on grownups as well! Rinsing your face with cool water can help get rid of heat, which can increase your energy instantly. If you’re worried about running mascara or ruining your carefully applied foundation you can apply a cloth with cool water on make-up free pressure points including your wrists and the back of your neck.
Cold water showers also can help you feel more alert and increase brain function meaning that you'll feel less tired throughout the day.