How to Manage Fatigue
By week 8 in your pregnancy, you will probably be well-acquainted with the truly mind-blowing fatigue that accompanies the first trimester. In fact, for many moms, this is the very first symptom they experience, sometimes even before skipping a period.
You can thank your hormones for your deep exhaustion, although that’s probably not much consolation when you’re trying to function day-to-day, before you’ve even told co-workers or friends that you’re expecting. And given that you might be withdrawing from caffeine at the same time, you might be wondering if there’s anything you can do to get you through your day without succumbing to an hours-long nap.
First things first, be gentle on yourself. Give yourself space to get the rest you need. And give these tips a try:
Get a full night’s sleep.
This is not the time to burn the candle at both ends. And while anxiety, emotions, or the need to pee might be keeping you awake during odd hours, do what you can to prioritize a full night of shut-eye -- eight, nine, even ten hours. End your night with a warm bath and a cup of tea, power down your electronics early, and practice relaxation breathing (four counts in, eight counts out) to soothe yourself and find a rhythm. A full night’s sleep goes a long way toward setting you up for a less exhausted day.
There are many reasons why you should continue an exercise routine throughout pregnancy. In the first trimester, it often does wonders as a pick-me-up for your energy level, plus it makes it easier to sleep at night. If you had a routine before getting pregnant, you should be able to continue it (although don’t be alarmed if it starts to feel harder, or you start to slow down, as the weeks progress). If not, chat with your provider about options -- if you’re healthy, most physical activity is still on the table at this point. Yoga, walking, pilates, swimming, and cycling are all good options right now.
You don’t have to be pregnant to gain benefits from standing up and walking around for a minute or two once an hour -- but when you’re fighting exhaustion, this can be as effective as a cup of coffee for keeping you awake. Set a timer and get up, stretch, and move around for at least sixty seconds. It’ll get oxygen flowing to your brain.
Eat snacks that’ll give you an energy boost.
You’re already trying to stay on top of your blood sugar to combat morning sickness -- but the added benefit of doing this is that you’ll avoid crashes that send you into deep exhaustion. Ditch processed foods, sugar, and simple carbohydrates in favor of fruits, vegetables, and protein. As for snacks, apples, bananas, edamame, hummus, and dark chocolate have all been shown to boost energy levels.
The best way to manage your exhaustion? Give into it and nap, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. I abbreviated my lunch hour so I could nap for 20 minutes in my car or in my bed (I worked close to my house); I have a friend who’d close the door to her office for a desk nap for 20 minutes in the afternoon. And giving yourself time for a nap between work and evening plans can help you keep social obligations (although you shouldn’t feel even one iota of guilt for tapering back your calendar for a few months).
If you’re really struggling, talk to your OB or midwife -- anemia, a thyroid issue, or something else might be to blame. And take heart -- while you might find that you’re moving a little slower throughout pregnancy, you’re likely going to feel a lot more awake once the second trimester hits.
We talk all about fatigue during our free first trimester class at Hygge. Have you signed up yet?