5 Ways to Manage Fatigue in the First Trimester

For many moms-to-be, the first clue of pregnancy isn’t a missed period or morning sickness, but a general feeling of exhaustion. The first months don’t reveal much outside change, but inside your body, cells are dividing and organ systems are differentiating. These processes put extra demands on your metabolism. Combine that with frequent nausea making it difficult to eat normally, and it’s no wonder pregnant women feel exhausted. Here are a few things you can do to help that early pregnancy burnout. 

1. Go to bed early. 

If you’re used to keeping busy and staying up all hours of the night, the first trimester can be a good time to change those habits. In a few months, you’re going to have a newborn that demands you change your normal sleeping schedule, so the earlier you start preparing the easier the transition will be. Got to bed when you’re feeling tired -- even if it’s 7pm -- because that’s what your body feels like it needs. Additionally, take advantage of the weekends to catch a few hours of sleeping in. 

2. Take a nap, or two, or three. 

Not every woman can sleep twelve hours at a time -- either because her body or her responsibilities won’t allow it. If you are one of those women, there’s no shame in an afternoon nap; it doesn’t have to be a three hour snooze session, but even a half hour catnap can perk you up. Or, eat fast on your lunch break and use the extra few minutes to take a power nap at your desk. 

3. Eat for energy, not cravings.

Opt for more frequent, smaller meals, rather than three big ones each day. Avoid sugar and other empty calories that tend to give you quick energy and then make you even more tired than before. Aim for the number of daily calories appropriate for a healthy person of your height and weight. Experts recommend pregnant women increase their caloric intake by about 300 calories (although this varies based on maternal weight and the presence of multiples) starting in the second trimester. In the first three months, however, fatigue can be exacerbated by inadequate nutrition.
For good energy, get plenty of iron, folic acid, and calcium, and choose high protein and whole wheat snacks, like greek yogurt or cheese and whole wheat crackers. Staying hydrated is also important -- some new moms find a glass of water can be just as effective as a cup of coffee. If you, like a large amount of pregnant women, are battling morning sickness, be selective about what you put in your body. 

4. Minimize your stress level. 

No matter how excited you are about your pregnancy, it’s still a major stressor. If you normally handle stress and anxiety really well, you might find that the hormones associated with pregnancy can make it difficult to manage everything you used to. And chronic stress can exhaust even the healthiest person. Don’t be afraid to give up some responsibilities -- and take a few more relaxing baths. To help destress yourself also try prenatal yoga or deep breathing exercises. 

5. Get 30 minutes of activity each day. 

Exercise may seem impossible when a trip to the bathroom seems like a triathlon. However, a little bit of exercise can really help keep your energy levels up during this first three months. Not only can a 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days help you feel more alert, but it may also assist in keeping your hormonal mood swings at bay. Additionally, exercise can make labor and delivery easier, along with reduce bloating, swelling, constipation, and other unpleasant conditions associated with pregnancy.