During pregnancy, one of the most common symptoms women complain about is fatigue. What causes pregnancy fatigue? Aside from the fact that your body is undergoing enormous changes and that you’re growing another person in there, you are also experiencing hormonal changes that can make you feel more tired. Progesterone, in particular, is increased during pregnancy and it has the effect of making you feel sleepy1. What can you do to beat pregnancy fatigue? The following tips will help you get through those challenging months.
Rest is Essential
Any pregnant woman knows that it is difficult to rest when you are plagued by pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, heartburn, and back pain. Aside from that, being pregnant, especially for the first time, may bring feelings of anxiety over your baby’s health and how you feel about the pregnancy. All of these combined together can make sleep seem like an impossible goal. Nevertheless, sleep and any opportunity you can take to rest is essential. Even sitting down for a few moments in your day to take the load off your feet will help. If you can manage it, a power nap is even better. Of course, sleep is still the best way to combat fatigue so get to bed early and sleep in whenever you can.
Exercise is Good
When you’re exhausted, exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do. Even so, the extra burst of endorphins, oxygen, and increased circulation is just the thing to help ward off your fatigue. Try taking a brisk walk around the block or swimming a few laps at the pool. Not only will it perk you up, it will also help you sleep better at night.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, poor nutrition is often a compounding factor for fatigue so make sure you’re eating well. Avoid skipping meals even if you don’t feel like eating. Starting your day with a healthy and balanced breakfast is essential. Fatigue can also be a sign that you’re not getting enough calories. During the second trimester of your pregnancy, you need to increase your energy intake by about 280 calories a day, and up to an extra 470 calories in your third trimester2. Ideally, these calories should come from healthy food sources, such as wholegrain carbohydrates, dairy, protein from fish and lean meat, fruit and vegetables.
Combine Protein and Carbohydrates
After a carbohydrate-rich meal, your blood sugar levels will increase, triggering your body to release insulin to normalise the levels. This leads to a resultant “sugar crash” that can make you feel even more tired. By adding protein to your meal, you can moderate the increase in blood sugar levels and avoid the resultant sugar crash3. Protein also increases satiety (the feeling of fullness) which can help you feel more energised4.
Be mindful that dehydration can compound the feeling of fatigue so it is important to make sure you stay hydrated by drinking enough liquids. While water is often recognised as the best fluid for hydration, research shows that the balance of electrolytes in milk can make it even better5. Maternal milk supplementation, like Similac Mom®, is a nutritious option for rehydration, as it is low in fat and helps meet the increased energy and protein requirements during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy can be an exhausting period for any mother but you can ease the fatigue with these tips. Combine them all to help you get the best results for boosting your energy levels.
1.Bourjeily G. Sleep disorders in pregnancy. Obstetric Medicine. 2009;2(3):100-106. doi:10.1258/om.2009.090015.
2. Malaysia RNI 2017
3. Fisher K, et al. Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performance in the morning. Physiol Behav, 2002, 75(3):
411-23. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11897269
4. Paddon-Jones D, et al. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr, 2008, 87(5): 1558S-1561S.
5. Desbrow B, et al. Comparing the rehydration potential of different milk-based drinks to a carbohydrate-electrolyte
beverage. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2014, 39(12): 1366-1372.