Pregnancy: Fatigue in early pregnancy

I just found out that I'm pregnant with my second baby and I am exhausted! I work outside the home and I can barely drag myself out the door in the morning. When I get home all I want to do is crawl into bed. How can I cope with this constant fatigue and when will it end?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

How well I remember the first trimesters of my pregnancies. I would see my last client of the morning and collapse into a chair and fall asleep.

There is not one answer to your question and the duration differs among women. Generally, however, this type of fatigue begins to dissipate by the 12th week of pregnancy. They call the second trimester the "honeymoon of pregnancy," largely because the symptoms of pregnancy are relieved and a woman begins to feel more like herself again.

You do need more sleep during pregnancy. Imagine the maternal effort required to do the work of growing a functioning human being in just 38 weeks! If you can get 9 to 10 hours of sleep at night, with a nap at noon or a rest period when you get home from work, that is best. So many women, go into their "second shift" when arriving home from work. Someone has to look after children, get dinner, shop, plan meals for the week, pay bills and keep the house in order. Often, many of these tasks fall to the woman in the household. Add to this the stress and work of pregnancy and it is no wonder she becomes exhausted.

Even a quick, 5 or 10 minute period of rest with eyes closed can be rejuvenating, so take every opportunity to get several of these in during your work day.

When women become pregnant, they often stop drinking caffeinated beverages so they may become fatigued as a result. Try to drink water on a continual basis throughout the day and take fruit smoothie breaks during the day. Don't let more than two or three hours go by without a high protein or fruit snack. Such snacks will stave off fatigue as well.

During your night's sleep, surround yourself with pillows. You may want to consider sleeping with your own blanket as your partner will most likely not share your desire for fewer covers.

Protect the time you have for yourself. Rest as much as possible but try not to neglect your need for fresh air and exercise. Exercise will often help you to sleep better at night.

Fatigue is a normal condition in the first trimester, so take comfort in the knowledge that it will soon pass. If it seems to persist into the second trimester, discuss this with your care provider. You may need an iron supplement or further investigation into the source of the chronic fatigue.

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