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 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 six hours of sleep at night often find they need nearly double that during these first weeks of pregnancy. And, for others, daytime exhaustion is coupled with difficulty 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, which 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, resulting 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 so that you can drink less fluids 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, but it’s OK to pamper yourself. By minimizing any extra job or social commitments during these first few weeks, you can be as productive as possible in your regular responsibilities.
- Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
- newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician