One of the most common mum-to-be complaints is fatigue and exhaustion. It can often feel like no matter how long you sleep, you still feel zonked and lethargic So why does it happen and is there anything you can do to help?
Is it normal to feel tired in early pregnancy?
Yes, it’s very common for women to feel tired and exhausted in the first trimester.
“I am 13+4 and am feeling so tired,” says MrsElsbethDaykin on our forum. “Even the slightest thing is making me shattered. I go to Tesco, and have a wander round, by the time I get home I need to rest.I am quite big already, but I don;t remember feeling this tired.”
And sometimes it can be really debilitating. Poetgirl says: “Well I am really tired and end up asleep on the sofa by about 8pm and am tired all day!”
Will I feel this tired during my whole pregnancy?
Fortunately as you move into your second trimester, things should improve. “Am now 20 wks and its not as bad as it was a few weeks ago!” Tommysmum2 tells us.
Though in later pregnancy you might start to feel tired again. “In late pregnancy, the extra weight will make you feel tired and sleep may become more difficult,” explains Valerie Gommon. “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.”
I’m so exhausted – what can I do?
It might sound obvious but you probably need more rest and sleep. “You’ll have times during your pregnancy when your body tells you to rest, and that’s exactly what you should try to do,” says midwife Anne Richley. “Try power napping, even 10 minutes will help.”
But stopping everything to rest can be easier said than done, especially if you have other children or work. MummyDubexxx says”:
“I’m only 4 weeks pregnant – I’m usually tired by the end of the day after running about after my son and don’t usually want to sleep this early, but I had just fell asleep and slept for probably a hour and I probably would’ve slept longer but I was rudely awaken by 16 month old son who thought it would be funny to try and poor juice on me so now i had to get changed because i had a wet bum!”
Can my diet affect how tired I get?
“You are what you eat” as the saying goes and what you put into your body can really help you when you’re feeling utterly exhausted.
As ever, drinking loads of water is essential (even if that does mean more trips to the loo!) and midwife Valerie Gommon suggests eating a really hearty breakfast.
“Smoothies will give you a quick burst of energy, or porridge with banana will release energy more slowly,” she explains. “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.”
Then as the day goes on, make sure you have lots of healthy snacks on hand if you’re feeling sluggish. Keep a banana or a bag of nuts in your handbag in case of emergencies.
Will exercise really make me less tired?
When you feel exhausted, peeling yourself off the sofa and doing some exercise might well be the last thing you want to do. However, exercise can actually make you feel less tired! Don’t worry, we’re not talking marathon running here.
“Even if it’s a little walk outside, you’ll find it really refreshing,” says midwife Valerie while other mums swear by Pilates as a way to combat tiredness.
“Pilates doesn’t just work at getting you fit, but it gives you the strength to hold your posture and carry your baby well – making you less likely to get tired,” explains Lynne Robinson, a Pilates instructor and author of The Body Control Pilates Pregnancy Book
Should I ever worry about the tiredness?
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,” explains Valerie Gommon.
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.
Some mums-to-be suffer from pregnancy insomnia, which is more extreme and can be very distressing. If you are struggling with this, speak to your midwife or doctor.