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Overcoming fatigue in pregnancyHappy Fertile Friday!!

I remember when I was pregnant with Valentina having the most debilitating fatigue, especially in the first trimester.  I tried to adapt my nutrition as much as possible to help the situation, and I can say it definitely helped.  It’s common to feel fatigued during pregnancy because, well, because you’re growing another whole person and that takes energy.  The growing baby needs extra nutrition and nature is designed to make provisions for that (potentially at your expense). Hormonal shifts can contribute to fatigue, and the demands on the ever-expanding blood supply can mean that blood pressure can drop and that can lead to reduced energy too.

There are a few nutritional things to consider to boost energy during pregnancy:-

Diet

From a dietary standpoint, make sure to eat smaller amounts more frequently.  That will help to keep blood sugar stable and regulated, and prevent the drops that come with hours of fasting. Eating good amounts of protein will also help, and pregnancy is typically not the time to go totally low carb.  Healthy carbs are needed to provide calories and energy.  I still recommend being gluten free and avoiding processed foods and refined sugars, but some low-glycemic carbs such as brown rice and sweet potatoes might help the energy situation, even for people who do better on a low-carb diet generally.  I know many women who eat more red meat during pregnancy as their body craves both the protein and the iron source.

Lifestyle

It sounds so trite to say “if you’re tired, sleep more”, but the fact is that during pregnancy you might just need more sleep.  You might also need to grab a 20-minute nap after lunch, or even just lie down throughout the day and read a book. Every bit of rest you can get helps your body.  I recognize that it’s harder if you’re working to dictate that, and/ or if you have kids already that have their schedules and needs to account for, but even 5-10 minutes here and there is better than nothing.  See if you can carve out a few precious moments during the day for rest.  I know for me, listening to a 10-minute meditation track was a good way to get a quick recharge during the day as it distracted my busy mind from thinking about everything else that had to be done!

I also think that pregnancy pillows and other things like that are a good idea, especially in later months, as broken sleep due to not being comfortable or waking in the night to go to the loo can also contribute to fatigue during the day.

Supplements

Obviously the first thing we want to examine is our diet, to optimize the nutrition we’re getting.  As mentioned, some women do better eating more red meat during pregnancy to increase their iron levels.  Eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables will boost vitamins and minerals.  There are times, though, when it is sensible to supplement certain nutrients to account for the increased demand.  I would always adjust based on blood levels, but iron is a big one in pregnancy that may need supplementation.  Most prenatals will contain iron.

B12 in another nutrient that can boost energy.  B12 shots are fine, or a B12 sublingual supplement.  I wrote more on B12 in general here.  Vitamin D levels are easily checked through standard blood work and should be corrected if low as low vitamin D stores can drain energy too.

Hormones

People with thyroid imbalances and/ or taking thyroid medication should take extra care during pregnancy to make sure their levels are being tested and adjusted as necessary.  Many women will need higher doses of thyroid hormone supplement to keep their levels stable in pregnancy. At a minimum levels should be checked each trimester, but I checked mine every month just to keep a close eye on it.

Adrenal supplementation may be helpful for supporting energy too.  I have always been a fan of Standard Process Drenamin during pregnancy.  Herbs such as rhodiola, ashwaghanda and eleuthrococcus are also often recommended by midwives for adrenal support.

Pregnancy is simply be a time that women are more prone to fatigue, but to summarize, here are some things to look at to optimize your energy:-

  • Nutrition especially protein/ veggies
  • Sleep patterns/ naps
  • Good prenatal with high quality vitamins and minerals
  • B12 supplements
  • Iron supplements
  • Thyroid levels
  • Adrenal support