The Best Natural Ways to Fight Pregnancy Fatigue

Pregnancy fatigue during your first and third trimesters is a common annoyance. Here are some safe solutions to help boost your energy and combat exhaustion.

Tired pregnant woman
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There's tired, and then there's pregnancy tired. It's normal to feel like you've got the world's worst case of jet lag when you're pregnant, especially in the first trimester. In fact, for some people, this early pregnancy fatigue is even more of an adjustment than morning sickness. Even though it's frustrating, being tired is actually a good sign, since (like nausea) it indicates that your pregnancy hormones are circulating and your body is hard at work helping your baby grow. There are many reasons why you feel tired all the time now, including:

  • You're not sleeping as well these days.
  • Chronic morning sickness is exhausting and makes it hard for you to eat, which is how you get re-energized.
  • Increased levels of the hormone progesterone can make you extra sleepy.
  • Your heart is pumping harder to accommodate an increase in blood volume.
  • Sharing vital nutrients (like iron) with your baby can leave you deficient and fatigued.
  • Carrying extra weight is tiring (this is mainly in the third trimester).

Ways to Fight Pregnancy Exhaustion

The good news is that you can increase your energy levels with a few simple steps, according to Andrew Weil, M.D. Here are some natural ways to combat pregnancy exhaustion, giving you more energy to conquer your everyday tasks.

1. Follow a Healthy Diet

Dr. Weil suggests following a satisfying and nutritious anti-inflammatory diet to fight against pregnancy fatigure. Eat a variety of organic fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods as much as possible. Also, you should steer clear of rapidly-digesting carbohydrates like white bread, because these cause you to "crash" and feel more sleepy. Eating a low-fat diet that's high in iron and protein (if you can stomach it) may also help. And be sure to stay hydrated and take your prenatal vitamin throughout pregnancy—and for at least six months postpartum.

2. Exercise Daily

Commit to daily exercise even when you feel tired, as long as your doctor or midwife approves. Dr. Weil says aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, almost always makes you feel better. Exercise also promotes better sleep, and it improves your mood by releasing endorphins.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Accept your need for more sleep by going to bed at a time that enables you to get eight to nine hours per night. Don't hesitate to nap whenever you can—catnaps of 15 to 20 minutes can be rejuvenating, according to Dr. Weil. But be careful about oversleeping, which can make you feel even more tired.

4. Limit Caffeine

The American College of Obstetricians and gynecologists concluded that moderate caffeine consumption (less than 200 milligrams or 1½ cups of coffee per day) doesn't contribute to miscarriage or preterm birth. Even so, Dr. Weil doesn't recommend regularly drinking caffeinated beverages during pregnancy or using natural stimulants, such as rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) or ginseng. Their stimulant effects might adversely affect your sleep and moods.

5. Relax

Pregnancy takes a toll on your body and mind. You're producing more blood, your heart rate is up, and you're using up more water and nutrients. There's also the flood of emotion surging through your mind, which can make you feel overwhelmed. Take the opportunity to kick back and relax—before a crying baby keeps you up all night. You might need to adjust your schedule and cancel plans occasionally, and that's perfectly OK!

Speak with your doctor if you're pregnant and experiencing persistent fatigue—they might want to run tests to make sure you're not suffering from anemia or hypothyroidism.

Updated by Andrew Weil, M.D
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