8 Tips for Battling Pregnancy Fatigue - Baby Chick
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8 Tips for Battling Pregnancy Fatigue

Pregnancy fatigue is an overwhelming sense of tiredness in the first and third trimesters. Find out its causes and tips to increase energy.

Published December 18, 2023

by Lauren Rivera

BSN, RNC-NIC Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Sublett

Board-Certified OB/GYN, FACOG, IBCLC

Pregnancy is an incredible journey to motherhood, but it can also be an exhausting one. Pregnancy fatigue, the overwhelming sense of tiredness, often hits hardest during the first and third trimesters. It results from hormonal changes, increased blood volume, and the body working hard to create a new life.1

Let’s look into what causes pregnancy fatigue and how long it lasts and explore helpful tips to get you through the exhaustion and increase your energy.

What Does Pregnancy Fatigue Feel Like?

Everyone may experience pregnancy fatigue differently. It may feel like you can never get enough sleep, and extreme tiredness in early pregnancy is very common. Pregnancy fatigue feels like:2

  • Having difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Being constantly sleepy throughout the day
  • Finding it difficult to complete daily tasks
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Feeling like you never have enough energy

If you are one of the lucky ones, you may not experience it at all!

What Causes Pregnancy Fatigue?

Pregnancy fatigue lets you know it’s time to slow down and adjust to all the changes inside your body. You will likely feel the brunt of your fatigue during the first trimester, and then third-trimester fatigue will start back up as you get closer to delivery.3

Your developing placenta requires the heart to pump faster and stronger as your blood volume increases to keep up with your fetus’ needs. All this activity can leave you sleepy and sometimes out of breath. Progesterone, the hormone responsible for helping you stay pregnant and suppress contractions, also rises sharply in the first trimester and plays a big part in making you feel exhausted.3,4

When Does First Trimester Pregnancy Fatigue Peak?

Most women begin to experience fatigue, one of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy, during the first 12 weeks, and it can last through the end of the first trimester.5 You may be unable to stay awake the whole day without taking a nap. If you are feeling sluggish and tired all day despite sleeping well at night, don’t worry — it’s perfectly normal. That first-trimester fatigue should subside by about 13 weeks.

How Long Does Pregnancy Fatigue Last?

Pregnancy fatigue usually shows up at the beginning of the first trimester and eases off at the beginning of the second trimester.1 After 13 weeks, you may have more energy and feel like your old self again. Take advantage of this newfound energy to do what you must before the baby comes. More than likely, your pregnancy exhaustion will tiptoe back in during the third trimester as your baby (and you) continue to grow.

How To Get Energy While Pregnant

Consider these tips on how to overcome tiredness during pregnancy and bring you some much-needed energy:

Prioritize Rest and Sleep

Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night, and take short naps during the day whenever you feel your pregnancy fatigue. Create a comfortable sleep environment by dimming lights, using a pregnancy pillow for sleeping support, and maintaining a comfortable room temperature. Having a comfortable place to sleep and establishing a regular sleep schedule can help you get the rest you and your growing baby need.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate feelings of tiredness. Drink eight to 12 glasses of water daily to stay hydrated. Sip water, herbal teas, and natural fruit juices, and try to limit caffeine intake.6

Drinking water helps you digest your food, helps nutrients circulate in the body, and aids in excreting waste. Staying hydrated also helps form amniotic fluid around your baby.6

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet is essential for combating pregnancy fatigue. When you feel nauseated, it is hard to even think about eating, but try to eat small, frequent meals and snacks every three to four hours to stabilize your blood sugar and prevent energy dips. It is okay to indulge occasionally, but try to consume various foods, including lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential nutrients that can boost your energy levels.7

Exercise Regularly

While pregnancy fatigue may have you feeling exhausted and wanting to curl up on the couch, gentle, regular exercise can help increase your energy. Moving your body can help improve your mood, strength, posture, and endurance. Exercise can also help with those annoying pregnancy symptoms like bloating, constipation, and aches and pains. Physical activity during pregnancy can decrease your risk for C-section rates, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure.7,8

Prenatal yoga, pilates, swimming, and walking are excellent low-impact options that help boost your energy, improve circulation, and reduce swelling. Try to exercise for about 30 minutes five days a week or as much as you can handle. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise routine during pregnancy.8

Listen to Your Body

Pay close attention to your body’s signals. When you’re tired, take a break to rest. Napping may not always be an option when the overwhelming fatigue hits, but taking a few minutes to sit down can be helpful, especially at work. Overexerting yourself will only lead to increased fatigue and discomfort. Remember that pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to the limits.9

Manage Stress

Stress can contribute to feelings of fatigue. You can practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and prenatal massage to reduce stress, relieve pregnancy hormones, and promote a sense of calm. Surround yourself with supportive, understanding people who can provide emotional support.10

Delegate and Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Pregnancy is when you need to prioritize yourself, and accepting assistance with household chores, childcare, or other responsibilities can be immensely helpful.

If you can, hire a cleaning person to help lessen your load around the house. If you have other children, ask a trusted friend or family member to help take them to activities or give you a few hours to rest.

Plan for Restorative Activities

Every expecting mama needs to practice self-care. Engage in activities that recharge your energy and spirit. Reading, meditating, taking a warm bath, or enjoying a soothing hobby can provide a welcome break from daily life and pregnancy demands.

When To Call Your Doctor

Although it’s natural to feel more tired during pregnancy, you should call your doctor if you experience extreme fatigue, especially if it is accompanied by dizziness. Chances are, you may be experiencing anemia (a low red blood cell count), where insufficient oxygen is transported throughout your body, making you feel tired and weak.11,12

Fortunately, boosting your diet with more iron-rich foods such as lentils, liver, shrimp, turkey, enriched cereals, beans, and iron supplements can help. Extreme cases of anemia may require an iron transfusion. Your doctor will discuss your best options depending on your iron levels.11,12

Prioritizing rest, staying hydrated, maintaining a balanced diet, and engaging in regular exercise can help you feel more energized. Listen to your body, manage your stress, and don’t be afraid to ask for help to ensure you don’t get burned out. Taking care of yourself and implementing these tips can help reduce pregnancy fatigue and allow you to enjoy a healthier, more comfortable pregnancy.

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Lauren Rivera
Lauren Rivera BSN, RNC-NIC Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse
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Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse with over 15 years of experience. She serves as an expert offering support and educational classes for families from preconception… Read more

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