Of all the perks that come with your pregnancy, you’ll both love and hate those feelings of exhaustion. Sure, you wonder where all your energy and bounce have gone, yet you also have the best reason to laze around in bed all day.
Fatigue is common among by pregnant mums, especially during their first and third trimesters. Singapore Medical Group ob-gyn Dr Dharshini Gopalakrishnakone cautions, “However, there are still some women who continue to feel tired throughout pregnancy, without respite!”
So, what’s depriving you of all of your energy? Two words: Hormonal changes — for the most part anyway. Explains SmartParents expert, Dr Christopher Chong, a consultant ob-gyn at Gleneagles Hospital, “Especially in the first trimester, which may be made worse by nausea, vomiting and poor sleep.” Dr Dharshini adds that hormones like progesterone, in particular, are what’s making you feel sleepy.
So, what’s depriving you of all of your energy? Two words: Hormonal changes…”
Both Dr Chong and Dr Dharshini offer other factors that may affect your energy levels when you’re expecting:
* Low blood pressure and blood sugar levels Thanks to physiological changes during pregnancy. Dr Chong adds that your growing foetus is absorbing all that sugar that’s in your blood.
* Morning sickness It can also affect your appetite.
* Feeling moody A result of hormones and new-mum anxieties. Dr Dharshini warns that you’ll need to check if your mood swings aren’t a symptom of clinical anxiety or depression, which will require intervention urgently.
* Anaemia Caused by iron deficiency in the blood. Dr Chong explains this leads to fatigue as your body needs to work harder to circulate blood and nutrition.
* Stress From your job and having to take care of your family and possibly, other children, too.
* Pe-existing health conditions This includes thyroid hormone imbalances or viral infections like the flu.
* Lack of quality sleep Because of frequent urination and hormonal changes.
The good news is that your energy levels are likely to return during the second trimester and after labour. Dr Dharshini says, “I call the second trimester the ‘honeymoon period’! It is important to take advantage of [your second trimester] during pregnancy to accomplish important tasks, as energy levels will likely decrease again in the third trimester.” This is because of the extra weight from your growing foetus, your need to pee frequently, plus, you’re also battling sleep issues.
Ways to fend off pregnancy fatigue… Next!
Until your energy returns, learning how to keep your low energy levels in check will come in handy once baby arrives. Even so, Dr Dharshini stresses you may have to deal with a whole different type of fatigue then ― and will have to find out how to deal with your low energy levels while caring for your needy newborn! Both Dr Chong and Dr Dharshini have tips to help you manage your exhaustion:
1. Maintain a balanced diet Remember, food that’s good for mummy is good for baby, too. Dr Chong says to keep your sugar consumption in check — avoid excessive amounts as it can lead to a higher risk of obesity and gestational diabetes. Dr Dharshini advises that you load up on a diet rich in whole grains for vitamin B, probiotics from yoghurt, lean protein and fresh fruit and vegetables. Make sure to get some sun, too ― sunshine will boost your vitamin D levels. Both vitamins B and D are also known to be strong energy and mood boosters.
2. Drink up Not alcohol! We’re talking water. Dr Dharshini points out, “Dehydration can leave a patient lacking in energy and concentration, so staying hydrated is very important.” Stick to drinking around eight glasses of water, daily. Also, minimise your consumption of beverages high in caffeine as it can cause dehydration.
3. Make me-time count While you may be feeling stressed from the many unchecked items on your to-do list, you should make time to rest. Dr Dharshini suggests taking a soak in the bath, reading a book or listening to some calming music. Just do whatever it takes to stay well rested. “Some of my patients sign up for wonderful antenatal yoga classes that refresh and rebuild their bodies and minds every week.” Otherwise, getting massages and doing regular meditation can work wonders, too.
“I often tell patients that finding the ability to cope with the fatigue over nine months will actually help them brilliantly once baby has arrived and they have to run on minimal sleep for days [on] end. This is practice!”
4. Clock as much shuteye as possible Even a 15-minute power nap can make a difference. Listen and observe what your body is telling you. If need be, take frequent breaks. Dr Dharshini shares, “Late in the third trimester, some of my patients start their maternity leave early to catch up on their sleep and recover [their energy levels].”
5. Get up and get moving If lazing around doesn’t help, then working up a good sweat may do wonders. Upping your adrenaline and endorphin levels will leave you feeling energised and happy. Remember to start slow, especially if you haven’t been active for a while and rest or slow down if you feel tired. Dr Dharshini suggests that you start with a slow walk or swim in the mornings, so as to get used to exercising while you’re expecting. Otherwise, yoga and Pilates are popular low--impact workouts among pregnant women. Dr Dharshini advises, “If you are a gym bunny, ensure your trainer modifies your regime to be pregnancy-friendly.”
6. Accept help from others, especially your husband’s Rope your husband in to help out around the house and with the kids. Dr Chong suggests simple activities like accompanying you for your walks or a swim can be the perfect chance to build your relationship! “A happy pregnant woman will be less tired and depressed especially if she’s having bad pregnancy symptoms!”
7. Always think positively What you feel inside, you’ll show on the outside ― so, if you feel calm and happy, your body will feel the same way, too. You might want to start a journal or blog or commit to meditation? These are great ways to sort through your thoughts and emotions.
If you still feel rundown, no matter what you do, consider what Dr Dharshini has to say, “I often tell patients that finding the ability to cope with the fatigue over nine months will actually help them brilliantly once baby has arrived and they have to run on minimal sleep for days [on] end. This is practice!”
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