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Is it common to be exhausted when you're pregnant?
Yes, fatigue is especially common during the first trimester, and the condition tends to return in late pregnancy. No one knows for sure what causes fatigue in early pregnancy, but it's possible that hormonal changes – like the dramatic rise in progesterone – are at least partly responsible.
For many women, exhaustion is one of the first signs of pregnancy, and they constantly feel tired even before they're showing or carrying any extra weight. But other women hardly seem to slow down at all.
What causes fatigue during pregnancy?
Hormonal changes most likely contribute to exhaustion, but other common pregnancy discomforts also play a role. For example, it's hard to get a good night's sleep if your back aches or if you have to get up to use the bathroom frequently.
Nausea and vomiting can certainly cost you energy as well. You may also be feeling anxious about your pregnancy, which can be draining. Add up all these factors, and it's no wonder you feel as though you've run a marathon by the end of the day.
Fatigue can be a symptom of iron-deficiency anemia, which is common in pregnancy. Your healthcare provider will test your blood for anemia at your first prenatal visit and again in your late second trimester or early third trimester. (You might not have any symptoms if you're only mildly anemic.)
Depression can also cause fatigue or sleeplessness, so if you feel sad, hopeless, or unable to handle your daily responsibilities, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself, call your doctor or midwife immediately.
How long will I feel so tired?
It's different for everyone, but you'll probably have more energy during your second trimester – at least until you begin to lose steam again by the time you're around 7 months pregnant.
At that point, you'll be carrying more weight and may be having trouble sleeping well for a variety of reasons, including lower back pain, heartburn, leg cramps, or restless legs syndrome. You may also be kept awake by the baby moving around and the need to pee frequently.
How can I cope with fatigue during pregnancy?
Get enough rest. Listen to your body and get the extra sleep you need. Start by going to bed earlier, and take naps during the day when you can. Even a 15-minute catnap can make a difference, so if you work outside the home, find a quiet spot or empty room to doze off for a bit on your lunch break.
Lighten your load. Cut out unnecessary social commitments, and let the housework slide. See if you can reduce your hours or work from home occasionally. Take a vacation day if you have paid time off or a sick day if you're not feeling well. Arrange to have someone else watch your children once in a while so you can take a break or catch up on your sleep.
Eat a healthy diet. Most women don't need additional calories during the first trimester, but you'll need about 340 extra calories per day in your second trimester and 450 extra calories per day in your third trimester. (If you're underweight or overweight, ask your provider how many additional calories you'll need.)
A healthy diet made up of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, skim milk, and lean meats can be energizing. Junk food, by contrast, actually saps your energy. Snack on healthy foods, like fruit and yogurt.
Stay hydrated. Cut back on caffeine, and make sure you drink plenty of water. If frequent urination is keeping you up at night, try drinking less water a few hours before bedtime and make up for it during the day.
Exercise regularly. You may feel like you barely have the energy to make it through the day, let alone exercise. But if your provider gives you the go-ahead, include exercise in your daily routine. Getting at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, can actually make you feel better. Also, try to take frequent breaks throughout your day to stretch and breathe deeply.
Hang in there. If first trimester fatigue is getting you down, take heart that soon enough you'll be in your second trimester and probably feel much more energetic. You may even be up for taking in the late show or going on a weekend getaway. If you're nearing the end of your pregnancy, you'll be a new mom before you know it, so try to catch extra zz's while you can.