First Trimester Fatigue

First Trimester Fatigue

Is it common to be so tired in the first
trimester of pregnancy?

Feeling dog tired, can’t summon the
energy to do much of anything, and craving your bed? For many women, the extreme
tiredness (fatigue) of the first trimester is quite a surprise. And it’s an especially
hard transition for those who are normally go-getters with lots of energy. Women who
usually need only 6 hours of sleep at night often find they need nearly double that
during these first weeks of pregnancy. And for others, daytime tiredness is paired
with
trouble sleeping deeply or for more than a few hours at night. Nausea and vomiting
can
also be a big drain on your energy.

What causes the fatigue?

Fortunately, this is normal. It’s a
signal from your body to slow down and give it time to adjust to the incredible changes
happening inside. Hormone changes play a big role in making you feel tired, especially
the hormone progesterone. This hormone rises sharply in the first trimester. In
addition, as blood volume increases to supply the developing placenta and fetal
circulation, your heart pumps faster and stronger. This results in faster pulse and
breathing rates. Low iron levels can sometimes make you tired, as well, although this
is
more common in later pregnancy.

How long will the fatigue last?

For most women, the extreme fatigue
of the first trimester is soon forgotten with the glow and boost in energy that comes
with the second trimester. So, if it seems like all you’re doing these first few weeks
is lying around, dozing, or napping, don’t worry. It’s normal. Although fatigue often
returns in the third trimester because of disrupted sleep and increasing discomforts,
this too will pass in time.

What can you do to feel better?

  • Good nutrition and eating
    small, frequent, healthy meals can keep you going and can also help with
    nausea.

  • If you’re at work and
    fighting back drooping eyelids, try some stretches or deep breathing exercises. Or
    get up and walk around the office or take a break outside. 

  • When you can, go for a brisk
    walk around the block. A little exercise can energize you and may help you rest
    better when you do get to sleep.

  • Adapt your sleep habits. Take
    naps, if possible, during the day. You may also want to try going to bed
    earlier.

  • Drink enough fluids during
    the day and little several hours before bedtime. This may help you avoid having to
    get up to urinate during the night.

What should you avoid?

Squelch the urge to drink coffee or
other caffeinated drinks to stay alert, as the caffeine really isn’t good for your
developing baby. Instead, drink plenty of water.

It’s easy to feel guilty about not
being able to do everything like you’re used to. It’s OK to pamper yourself.  By
reducing any extra job or social commitments during these first few weeks, you can
be as
productive as possible in your regular responsibilities.