Causes of fatigue during pregnancy
During the first trimester of pregnancy:
- A huge amount of energy goes into building the placenta which is considered a life-support system for your baby.
- Levels of progesterone rise and metabolism run high. At the same time, blood sugar levels and blood pressure are lower while the blood production rises up which contributes to decreasing your energy levels.
- By the end of the first trimester, your body has created the placenta and is adjusting to the new levels of hormones.
During the second trimester of pregnancy
- Fatigue usually lessens and your energy levels get the chance to settle and be renewed.
During the third trimester of pregnancy
- In the third trimester of pregnancy, fatigue often returns as the baby increases in size putting more demands on your body, while sleep disturbances become common adding to fatigue.
- The key to relieving fatigue is rest, however many pregnancy symptoms can disturb sleep, such as: nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, frequent urination, leg cramps, back pain, shortness of breath and heartburn as well as perhaps some anxiety about the impending labor and birth.
Coping with fatigue
- Get plenty of rest and more sleep, try to go to bed earlier and take frequent naps or rest breaks.
- Balance your daily activity with rest and scale back non-essential activities.
- Taking moderate daily exercise – such as a brisk walk – can boost energy levels and help you sleep better at night.
- Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water and fluids.
- Adopting the six-meal solution (eating six small meals instead of three large ones) could help keep your blood sugar levels stable and your energy steady.
- Make sure your diet contains enough complex carbohydrates, proteins, and is offering the necessary calorie intake.
- Ask for help from husband, family and friends to take the pressure of daily tasks when energy levels are depleted so you may take time to rest and exercise.
- It is important to resist the urge to combat fatigue by having caffeine or sugary food such as chocolate, as this will ultimately exacerbate fatigue.
Consulting the Ob-gyn is essential if fatigue is severe, persistent. Also, if the fatigue is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: weakness, breathlessness, or fainting. This may be due to iron-deficiency anaemia, and could be investigated through a complete blood picture test.