Growing a little human is exhausting! Let’s talk about when and why you’ll feel the most fatigued and how to safely keep your energy up during pregnancy.
Fatigue will vary month by month during pregnancy, and at times it may feel like you’ll never get your energy back. It’s important to remember that energy loss is completely normal, and it’s occurring because your body is working overtime to supply for your baby. But there are some things you can do to combat fatigue.
How do energy levels change by trimester?
Fatigue and low energy are most common during the first trimester of pregnancy, as these first three months come with a lot of hormonal changes. Progesterone, a primary hormone for pregnancy, is also a primary cause of energy depletion. Your body is doing a lot to help you adapt to pregnancy like increasing blood flow, producing extra hormones, and on top of it all, draining emotional changes.
It’s common for many women to notice increased energy in the second trimester compared to that first trimester slump. This is your body adjusting to the sudden surge of hormones. While hormone levels are still increasing, they are increasing at a steady rate instead of all at once. The second trimester is sometimes referred to as the honeymoon period because you have some energy back and will likely take advantage of this time by doing a lot of shopping, planning, and preparing for your baby.
Another common and understandable period of exhaustion is the third trimester. Your body is preparing for birth and you’re likely having to exert more energy than usual to get tasks done. It’s also common to have trouble sleeping during your third trimester, making it harder to feel rested.
Ways to overcome tiredness during pregnancy
- Switch up your exercise routine. It’s easy to overdo it when you want to keep up with your old exercise routine. Try changing up your exercises, cutting back on your time spent working out, or limiting some of your usual activities. On the flip side, if you haven’t been exercising, you could try getting in a daily walk or yoga practice to boost your energy levels.
- Rest. Easier said than done, but try to find time to take naps as often as you need, and give yourself a break as often as you can. You can even convince your partner to massage your swollen feet or ankles with a cooling pregnancy lotion for some much-needed TLC. The dishes and laundry can wait, or better yet, delegate! It doesn’t hurt to play the pregnancy card while you still can.
- Stay healthy. Eating often and clean can make a huge difference in your fatigue. Stay away from excess sugar or caffeine, especially midday when they’ll be followed by an energy crash. Follow pregnancy nutrition recommendations and ensure you’re getting enough iron, calcium, and protein.
- Take your B Vitamins. A critical component of prenatal nutrition, B vitamins help the body convert food into energy and replenish red blood cells. Most prenatal vitamins will have the appropriate amount of B vitamins needed for a healthy pregnancy, like folate, B6, and B12.
What about caffeinated drinks?
The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) rounded up and reviewed studies on caffeine consumption and pregnancy and concluded that staying under 200 mg daily won’t hurt your baby. This includes any naturally occurring caffeine like what’s found in coffee, tea, and chocolate and added caffeine found in soda and energy drinks.
- Coffee lovers: Fear not! You can still have about one (small) cup of full caffeinated coffee a day, just be sure you know how much caffeine you’re consuming.
- Tea drinkers: You have it easier than coffee fanatics because most teas are less caffeinated! Green tea specifically has around 30 mg of caffeine, meaning you could have up to five to six cups throughout the day and still stay below the 200 mark.
- Energy drink fiends: Finding an energy drink that is under the 200 mg mark might be a challenge, but Redbull is always a safe bet with only 111 mg per serving (which is 8 oz, so look out for those 12 oz+ cans). Sodas like Pepsi or Coca-Cola usually come in around 40 mg per 12 oz, also under the daily limit. While these stay under the caffeine limit, keep in mind that doesn’t mean they are nutritious!
- The “but:” Coffee, tea, soda, and even energy drinks might be within an acceptable caffeine range for pregnancy, but you do need to be careful of the amount of sugar you’re ingesting. Sugar and artificial sweeteners can have a negative effect on your pregnancy, so you should try to keep your daily intake below 30 g (less than what can be found in a regular Coca-Cola).
Check out Dr. Mare Mbaye’s breakdown for more information on what caffeinated drinks are pregnancy safe.
- The first and third trimesters are likely when you’ll feel the most fatigued.
- Make sure you’re taking a prenatal vitamin that contains folate, B6, and B12 for adequate nutrition.
- Caffeine intake under 200 mg a day has been deemed acceptable for pregnancy.