If pregnancy is leaving you feeling fatigued, follow our handy tips to recharge and feel fabulous.

Feeling low? You can blame the physical and hormonal changes taking place in your body. No worries, you have many ways to feel better, just by increasing your energy levels.

This includes keeping active, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and ensuring you are eating a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and essential minerals.

Try these tips to feel fab during pregnancy.

1. Eat smart

Since you can barely keep down your food, thanks to morning sickness, this means that your nutrients may literally be going down the toilet bowl. Eating bland foods or drinking cold water in the morning can curb the nausea.

Eat complex carbohydrates, such as fruit or vegetables, rather than sugary foods or stimulants like coffee or cola drinks. Opt for food that has a low GI (glycemic index) and are high in fibre, such as fruit like blueberries, apples, under-ripe bananas, 70 per cent dark chocolate, oatmeal, brown rice and sugar-free muesli. These provide natural, slow-released energy thoughout the day.

Spending time doing something you love each day releases feel-good endorphins, allowing energy levels to rise naturally. Do things that help reduce the stress hormone cortisol.

Don’t go more than three hours without food. Be snack-savvy. Try to combine protein and carbohydrates when you snack — you can try dried fruit, fresh fruit with yoghurt or a nut mix. Do stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, too.

2. Find me-time

Spending time doing something you love each day releases feel-good endorphins, allowing energy levels to rise naturally. Do things that help reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Simple pleasures like meeting friends and listening to music help your body release the relaxation hormone serotonin. So, catch up with a girlfriend, take a long bath, listen to your favourite album and b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Makeup is also a great way to give yourself a quick pick-me-up — try a new shade of lipstick or eyeshadow.

3. Stay active

Exercise isn’t just good for your physical and mental well-being, it may even boost your baby’s brain activity.

According to University of Montreal research, pregnant women who exercised 20 minutes three times a week had babies whose brains developed quicker than women who were inactive during their pregnancy.

Notes Low Bee Yin, mum to Sarah, 1. “Exercising during pregnancy not only benefited my developing baby, it also reduced complications during delivery and after I gave birth.”

So, take regular breaks to stretch, walk and get fresh air. A walk outdoors provides a change of scene, natural daylight and vitamin D. The rhythmic steps you take also have a meditative, stress-reducing quality. If possible, take a short nap after lunch if you feel fatigued.

4. Take adequate iron

Low iron levels may affect your energy levels, although your ob-gyn will check this during your prenatal visits. Listen to your doctor and take your supplement to top up your iron.

5. Get sufficient shut-eye

A power nap — anything from 10 to 30 minutes — is a handy skill to acquire for early parenthood. Find somewhere quiet, lie or sit comfortably, and close your eyes. Focus on inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth until you feel relaxed. Don’t worry if you don’t actually nod off, the rest will still recharge you.


4 things to steer clear of when you’re expecting

6. Negative people

The last thing an expectant mother wishes to hear is what she is doing wrong or what will go wrong. This includes negative remarks and condescending comments about the way she eats, drinks or cares for herself during pregnancy.

Negative emotions are detrimental, especially for pregnant women. Why? Excess corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) — a neurotransmitter involved in the stress response — and hormones like cortisol (which supresses the immune system) could cause preterm labour, low birthweight and slow baby’s growth. In fact, some 13 per cent of women need medication to treat depression during pregnancy.

Struggling to fend off negativity? Here are several ideas to deal with negative Nancy.

* Smile, nod and say thank you.

* Firmly but politely state that you do not wish to discuss certain topics because they are too personal.

* Remind yourself that the “advice” is coming from a good place and not one of malice.

* Educate yourself on what’s to come — it’s the best way to minimise fear.

* Speak to your gynae about any concerns sparked by what others say to you. Your doctor will be happy to clarify and reassure.

Incidentally pregnancy hormones can wreak havoc on your skin… See a dermatologist for advice on treatments that are pregnancy safe.

Anxiety triggers the release of chemicals that stops the body from producing immune-fighting white blood cells to zap viruses. So, you’re more likely to get ill.

7. Stress

It’s not possible to spend every moment of your pregnancy being cool, calm and collected. But the more you can avoid a high-stress environment, the better it is
for your body.

Research shows that anxiety triggers the release of chemicals that stops the body from producing immune-fighting white blood cells to zap viruses. So, you’re more likely to get ill.

Depressed mothers also tend to have higher cortisol and less serotonin (the “happy” hormone) levels. This can contribute to premature births, low birthweight infants, babies who are less active and less attentive and who are more irritable and easily agitated.

8. Over-exercising

In general, pregnant women can stick to their usual workouts in the first trimester. However, the intensity should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels.

Changes that take place during pregnancy, such as looser joints and a changing centre of gravity, can alter a woman’s sense of balance and put her at higher risk of injuries, such as sprained ankles and knees.

Watch for signs that you may be exercising too hard:

* You feel exhausted, instead of energised after working out.

* You can’t carry on a conversation during your workout.

* You feel pain during or after a workout.

* Your muscles are getting so overworked that it’s difficult to keep your balance.

* You feel agitated or have trouble sleeping.

* Always check with your doctor before beginning a fitness regimen and listen closely to your body when you work out.

9. Extreme heat

During pregnancy, your skin has increased blood supply. Also, the energy you’ll need to move around may lead to heat exhaustion and dehydration. Here’s how to cope with the heat:

* Spritz water on your face with a spray bottle.

* Run your wrists under a cold tap to cool your pulse points. Or place a cool wet flannel on your forehead and the back of your neck.

* Have a cool shower or bath.

* Store a mini-fan in your bag for quick bursts of cool air.

* Drink lots of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can cause preterm uterine contractions, and in the worst-case scenario, lead to preterm labour.

* Wear loose clothing made of cotton or natural fibres as these absorb sweat better and breathe more easily than synthetic fabrics.

* Avoid sitting in the sun or sunbathing. Stay in the shade.

Photos: iStock

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