The stresses and strains of daily life can be draining enough, add to that the physical, mental and emotional demands that making a new baby places on your body and pregnancy can be a very tiring time indeed. Your energy levels will naturally fluctuate during pregnancy, and you may find yourself feeling tired a lot of the time and sometimes thoroughly exhausted. If this applies to you then read on for ideas on how to get some of the zing back, or at least give you enough energy that you feel you can cope.
If you feel constantly tired then do speak to your doctor or midwife about it, particularly if following the below tips doesn’t help, you may need a blood test to rule out anaemia.
It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re struggling to summon up the energy to simply get up in the morning, but there really is nothing like exercise to give you an energy-boost. Exercise improves your circulation, delivering more oxygen to your body’s cells and so directly raising your energy levels. Through exercise you also produce more feel-good endorphins which will help you cope with the stresses and strains of pregnancy.
We’re not talking about power-walking yourself into the ground, just gentle exercise is enough to clear your head and perk up your body and it’s important that you don’t over-do it when pregnant. Walking, swimming and pregnancy yoga are all great ways of exercising during pregnancy, for other ideas see here. Try and get thirty minutes of gentle exercise every day and if you can exercise in the fresh air then all the better.
Get started idea: Go for a brisk twenty-minute walk in the park this lunchtime and see how much better you feel afterwards.
2. Eat well
When you’re tired and low on energy it’s common to be drawn to the high-sugar, low-nutrition foods that will deliver a quick sugar rush. But it’s exactly these kinds of sugar peaks and lows that tax your system and ultimately tire you out further, so think again before you reach out for that sugary snack. What your body really needs right now are the foods that sustain your energy levels over the course of the day. Choose complex carbs like brown rice and pasta over the bleached varieties, eat as many fresh rather than processed foods as you can, try eating handfuls of nuts or an avocado to replace sweet snacks, and get as much variety in your diet as possible. There’s plenty more information on pregnancy nutrition here.
Get started idea: Try a fresh fruit salad (eg: banana, pineapple, blueberries, apple and melon) with low-fat yogurt and maybe a little unsweetened muesli for breakfast. If time is short then simplify things with one piece of fruit but do always eat breakfast.
3. Sleep and rest
It isn’t always easy when you’re pregnant, but getting plenty of sleep and rest is important to maintaining your energy levels. Most people need about eight hours of sleep a night and when you’re pregnant you may feel the need to nap in the day-time too.
It’s important that you listen to your body and take rests when you need them while pregnant, don’t think that you’re being lazy! If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night then have a read of these ideas for a better night’s sleep and comfortable sleeping positions. You may need to talk to your partner about how you divide up household chores to make sure that you’re not over-burdened.
Get started idea: Aim to get at least eight hours’ sleep each night. Record any late-night telly you’re interested in and if you have a morning grooming routine, consider ditching part of it for an extra ten minutes in bed.
4. Drink plenty of water
Water makes up two thirds of our body weight and is needed for every single bodily function, yet most of us are under-hydrated most of the time, and this zaps energy. When you’re pregnant your daily water intake requirement increases, in part due to your increased blood supply, processing waste from your baby and constantly replenishing amniotic fluid. So it’s all the more important to make sure you’re taking on enough fluids at this time and the World Health Organisation recommends that pregnant women have 4.8 litres of water a day.
Simple water is tone of the best way to take on fluids although you might also find some naturally decaffeinated teas refreshing and good for combatting morning sickness, indigestion and other pregnancy discomforts. Cut back on caffeinated, sugary and carbonated drinks (which may worsen wind). Bear in mind that there’s also water in your fruit, veg, dairy products and other foods, so you don’t need to actually drink all 4.8 litres. There’s more information on getting your daily water intake here.
Get started idea: Keep a bottle of plain water on your desk and drink steadily throughout the day rather than waiting until you feel thirsty. Try adding a little lemon juice or herbal teas (one safe for use in pregnancy) if you prefer some flavour.
5. Clear your mind
Any anxieties you may have about the health of you and baby, your relationship, finances, how you’ll cope as a mum, and your career progress are all another drain on your energy. Worrying about these things during pregnancy is, of course, perfectly normal (within reason!) but do try to keep worries in proportion and stay as calm as you can.
Setting aside a few minutes every day for breathing exercises and/or meditation may help. Try focusing your mind on a particularly restful or relaxing mental image and inhaling deeply and slowly, conscious of replenishing your body’s energy supplies with oxygen and breathing in calm. As you exhale, think of breathing out your anxieties and anything negative that’s preying on your mind.
Sharing concerns will usually help. Your partner and friends should be a good source of support, and if feel you’re talking about pregnancy a little too much with them, or you want the support of people going through similar experiences then try finding support from your due-date club on the ThinkBaby forum where there’s plenty of humour to see you through.
Get started idea: Set aside some regular time each day that’s just for you, even if it’s only a few minutes, and use that time to unwind and relax however you prefer. We’ve got a few ideas here on pregnancy relaxation.