Feel like you could fall asleep standing up now you’re expecting? Sarah Harper, 33, from London, who’s 14 weeks pregnant, couldn’t agree more. “The tiredness is so bad that I even made a cake with salt instead of sugar. They were both in similar-looking bags and I was so exhausted I didn’t check the labels,” she says.
“In early pregnancy, tiredness is caused by an increase in hormones, particularly progesterone,” says independent midwife Valerie Gommon (www.3shiresmidwife.co.uk). “And in late pregnancy, the extra weight will make you feel tired and sleep may become more difficult. Your metabolism is also working overtime, your heart is beating faster and your baby is developing at an amazing rate so you’re bound to feel drained.”
To keep you feeling perky, we’ve targeted sleepy spots throughout your day and tell you how to fight that fatigue…
First thing in the morning
You’ve just got up, so how could you possibly feel tired? But remember, your exhaustion will be exaggerated if you’ve not been sleeping very well, especially with all those late-night loo trips.
Start the day with breakfast. “Smoothies are good but some only give you a quick burst of energy, so if you want to sustain it go for porridge with banana as that’ll release energy more slowly,” says Valerie.
“As iron helps beat tiredness, try eating dried apricot or eggs on toast but have them with orange juice as the vitamin C helps the iron absorb into your system.”
Also ask yourself whether you really need to get up that early. If you don’t, then listen to your body and head back to bed for a bit more shuteye.
“I find getting out of bed hard and I even feel tired when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. I have to eat breakfast straight away, and a cup of tea always perks me up and even makes my baby have a little wriggle around so I know he or she’s woken up too!” said Corrinne Jones, 26, from Hampshire, 18 weeks pregnant.
On public transport
Pregnant or not, the feeling of continuous movement can often send you into the land of nod, especially if the heaters are blasting out hot air. But you’ve got to get off at some point, so how do you perk up?
First of all, make sure you parade that bump to get a seat, or wear a ‘Baby on Board’ badge if it isn’t obvious yet. Strong mints are good for temporary pick-me-ups, but if you know you’ll fall asleep use it as a power nap and set your phone alarm to wake you up.
“Wear layers you can peel off and carry water to keep you hydrated,” says Valerie. “Ask your employer about flexi-hours, so you can have a lie-in and avoid the busy times on public transport.”
At the office
If you’re working through your pregnancy and it involves sitting at a desk all day, you’re bound to feel tired. But there a few things you can try to see you through to home time.
“Find out if there’s a ‘sick room’ you can have a nap in at lunchtime, and keep a host of healthy snacks on hand to perk you up,” says Valerie. “Try and get up from your desk at least once an hour, even if it’s just to walk to the printer or to make a cup of tea, and if you can manage a little walk outside you’ll find it really refreshing.”
Drinking lots of water is important too, and even though this means lots of loo trips, at least you’ll be getting up!
“But don’t underestimate how tired you’ll be in your last trimester,” says Valerie. “Set the date you go on maternity leave as early as is realistically possible.”
You might have to give all-day marathon shopping trips a miss but let’s face it, trying to avoid it all together would be nearly impossible for us girls, especially when there are newborn baby clothes to coo over.
Eat before you set out. “Feeling hungry can make you feel tired and faint,” says Valerie. “And avoid carrying heavy bags too. See if you can take advantage of collect-by-car services, or enlist the help of friends.” Sitting down between shops and avoiding anywhere with really long queues will keep you going for longer.
“I was determined to go Christmas shopping when I was 7 months pregnant, despite feeling tired, as I love the atmosphere. I knew standing in queues would tire me out, so I got my partner to queue while I sat down and rested. Although it helped I still found it too tiring, so I reluctantly gave up and did the rest online which was so much easier!” said Celine Philibert, 25, from Surrey, mum to Henry, 9 months.
Entertaining your toddler
Being pregnant and looking after another little one can be hard work. Lots of mums find they’re more tired in their second pregnancies for exactly this reason. But there are things you can do to help.
The most important thing to remember is any time your toddler rests, rest too. Don’t be tempted to do housework and if all else fails, half an hour in front of CBeebies won’t hurt her while you have a lie down on the sofa. Don’t fall asleep, though!
Tiredness and anaemia
If you’re feeling constantly tired and experiencing shortness of breath, speak to your midwife, as you could be suffering from anaemia. “It’s a condition that occurs when there are a reduced number of red blood cells and is normally due to an iron deficiency,” says Valerie. You’re normally checked for anaemia in your first and third trimester, so it’s usually picked up then, and you’ll most likely be given iron tablets to treat it.