How to Combat Fatigue During Pregnancy
July 10, 2020Fatigue is a common condition during pregnancy and can sometimes be an indicator that a woman’s body needs some extra TLC. Fortunately, combating fatigue during pregnancy can be pretty simple. From energy-boosting diet changes to adjusting sleep patterns to getting more exercise, there are many ways expecting moms can stay healthy and more energized during pregnancy.
1. Up Your Iron Intake
During pregnancy, your body undergoes big changes. One such change is a dramatic increase in blood production. A woman’s body will increase its blood production between 30 percent and 50 percent during pregnancy – that’s a lot of blood! For your body to properly produce the extra blood needed to supply your growing baby, it requires additional resources such as iron and folic acid.1
Iron is a mineral that helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Not having enough iron can lead to anemia, a condition in which the body lacks enough red blood cells. Without sufficient red blood cells, oxygen can’t be adequately carried throughout the body. This can lead to fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat.1
Folic acid is a B vitamin that the body uses to make new cells. During pregnancy, new cells are constantly being created for the fetus as it develops. A lack of folic acid before or during pregnancy may be linked to an increased risk of birth defects.2
To increase your iron and folic acid intake, you can add more iron and folic acid to your regular diet, take prenatal vitamins that contain these nutrients, or both. Speak with your doctor to determine the best nutrition and prenatal vitamin plan for your needs.
2. Is Caffeine Safe During Pregnancy?
Caffeine is a very common ingredient in coffee, soft drinks, and even some foods. Although it is a stimulant, it may not always be the best option for boosting your energy. For expecting moms, caffeine should be consumed in moderation. As of now, there have been no consistent links shown between moderate caffeine consumption and a higher risk of health problems for expecting mothers or their babies. Nevertheless, most health experts advise pregnant women to limit their caffeine consumption to no more than 300mg per day, which equates to about two cups of coffee.3
If you are concerned about the effect caffeine might have on your body or your baby, there are plenty of healthy caffeine-free alternatives that you can try when your energy feels low. These can help give you a boost of energy without the unpleasant side effects of caffeine:
- Golden milk – This nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory drink is made with coconut milk, turmeric, and honey. Ask for it at your favorite coffee shop or make your own! Here’s a video recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=984pR6Wu6Ic
- Peppermint tea – Peppermint tea is free of caffeine but packed with flavor. Also, peppermint has been linked to improved mental energy and memory, plus it freshens your breath and can be a great aid in digestion.4
- Natural light – Exposure to more natural light can help improve alertness and elevate your mood.4
- Fruit – Eating fresh fruit can help give your body a boost of energy without the crash that is normally associated with refined sugar or caffeine. Plus, certain fruits (and veggies) help your body absorb iron more efficiently, making it easier for your body to produce energy. Strawberries and oranges are particularly good at aiding in iron absorption.5
3. Let’s Talk About Sleep
Fatigue isn’t the same as being sleepy, but it is linked to your sleep quality. When sleep is disturbed, fatigue can occur along with feeling drowsy throughout the day. During pregnancy, and especially in the third trimester, sleep can become more difficult. Here are a few ways to improve your sleep quality during pregnancy:
- Try the sleep-on-side (SOS) position – Lie down on your left side, bend your knees and place a pillow between your legs. This position is usually more comfortable than lying on your back or stomach and it can help improve circulation during the night.6
- If you experience heartburn at night, try modifying the SOS position by propping your upper body up slightly with extra pillows.
- Limit nighttime trips to the bathroom by doing regular Kegel exercises, avoiding diuretics such as coffee and sodas, and drinking less fluid before bedtime.
- If you experience restless leg syndrome, try stretching before going to bed and increasing your iron/folic acid intake. Iron deficiency may affect dopamine production, which is linked to motor control.7
It may seem counterintuitive, but regular exercise can beat fatigue and help you feel more energized. Don’t worry; you don’t have to start an intense fitness routine to feel the effects. Studies have shown that regular, low-intensity exercises, even for short durations, can help reduce fatigue and boost energy.8 Whether you go for a 15-minute walk around your neighborhood every other day, do simple aerobics every morning, or practice prenatal yoga twice a week, you’re likely to see a difference in your energy levels as well as your overall mood and well-being.
5. Don’t Overfill Your Schedule
A lot of modern expecting moms juggle full schedules. If you have other kids, a full-time job, social obligations, or community commitments, the added challenges of pregnancy can make it tough to fulfill your responsibilities without feeling burned out. Make sure you are taking time for yourself, even if it means having to schedule a block of time every day that is 100 percent yours. Treat your “me time” as being as important as a church committee meeting, kids’ soccer practice, or work. Ensuring you have time to relax and decompress can greatly reduce feelings of stress or burnout, both of which may be linked to fatigue.9
6. Talk to Your Doctor About Prenatal Vitamins
Taking a daily prenatal vitamin can help ensure your body has the nutrients it needs during pregnancy and postpartum. Since fatigue can sometimes be a sign of nutrient deficiency, taking a prenatal vitamin may help combat this condition. However, only a medical professional can advise you on how your fatigue should be treated.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is sponsored by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.