Tired for Two: Why Does Pregnancy Make You Tired?

Are you struggling to stay awake throughout the day now that you’re pregnant? You knew pregnancy wouldn’t be easy, but is it normal to always feel so tired?

Many women associate fatigue with pregnancy. It is an oh-so-common part of the journey to motherhood. While you are always going to feel some fatigue, there are ways to help increase your energy levels.

It is also useful to understand why your body is needing much more energy now than ever before.

Your pregnancy won’t leave you feeling drained forever, but it’s great preparation for the exhausting yet wonderful journey that is parenthood.


How Early You Experience Pregnancy Fatigue?

While the most common sign of pregnancy is a missed period, some women recall extreme fatigue being one of their first indicators.

Mothers who have already given birth to their baby will tell you there seems to be a significant difference from regular fatigue and pregnancy fatigue.

The fatigue can be experienced very early on, even just one week after conception (source). Now don’t get carried away and immediately associate fatigue with pregnancy — there are many other reasons you could be feeling extra tired.

Now if you are experiencing a combination of pregnancy symptoms like a missed period, unexplained nausea, tender breasts, and fatigue — you may just have a bun in the oven.

1. First Trimester Fatigue

When you’re pregnant, you will begin feeling more tired during your first trimester. This trimester takes a toll on your body because not only are you adjusting to your new hormone levels, but all of your baby’s major body functions are forming.

Think about the energy it takes for you to create a human!

Your increased hormones can cause you to become sleepier all on their own. Not to mention you will be experiencing lower-than-normal blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

All of the physical and emotional changes you are going through during this time can be enough to cause extreme exhaustion (source).

Don’t be alarmed, but you will probably be blindsided by just how much your energy levels can deplete during this trimester.

Fatigue is extremely common in the first trimester and, in my experience, is often an early sign of pregnancy that almost all women in my practice complain of.
Headshot of Christine Traxler, Medical Doctor

Editor's Note:

Christine Traxler, MD, BS

2. Second Trimester Fatigue

The second trimester will be like a second wind. You will almost feel like yourself again, minus the growing tiny human inside you, of course.

Some women however, can experience the extreme fatigue carried over into their second trimester. Although it may still be present, it should decrease once the placenta has been fully created (source).

If your fatigue levels still seem to be extreme during this trimester, it is best for you to relay that information along to your doctor.

The second trimester is usually the time when you have enough energy actually to get stuff done. Many moms will finalize the nursery and get everything prepared before the third-trimester rolls around.

You may be feeling pretty good now, but, unfortunately, your newfound energy will dwindle again come the third trimester.

3. Third Trimester Fatigue

The third trimester can lead to fatigue because now you are carrying around all that extra baby weight. It can be exhausting having to go through your day-to-day activities with a bowling ball accompanying your waistline.

It’s likely you are becoming restless at night, having trouble getting comfortable, and making frequent trips to the bathroom.

The combination of all of these would leave even the best of us feeling super tired. I’m sure one of your favorite parts of the day is crawling into your bed, and there should be no shame in that.

You need all the rest you can get because once your little one is here, you probably won’t remember what crawling into your bed feels like (source).

Maybe You’ll Sail Through

All pregnancies are different so that you may be an exception. If you are lucky enough to maintain your energy levels for most of your pregnancy, enjoy it! Once you have that baby, you are going to wish you took advantage of the days you weren’t feeling exhausted.

Why Does Pregnancy Make You Tired?

It’s crazy to think your baby has yet to make his or her appearance into this world, but they are already impacting your energy levels.

Your body is busy adjusting hormones to maintain your body and the developing baby inside of you. It is pretty crazy you are solely responsible for another human life. The idea of supporting your life and another one should be a reliable indication of why you are tired (source).

You may feel like you shouldn’t be tired until you are carrying around a significant baby bump, but this isn’t the case.

Supporting a baby can take a toll on you. If you are experiencing morning sickness, puking alone takes a significant amount of energy and can leave you feeling weak and tired.

It is essential to try and replenish as many nutrients as possible when enduring morning sickness because dehydration during pregnancy and lack of food will only make your fatigue worse. They can also cause other issues for you and your baby.

Your nightly sleep has probably been interrupted because you aren’t able to get comfortable, you have to make an excessive amount of trips to the bathroom, or maybe you are having leg cramps.

You will be amazed at how many times you can still wake up in the middle of the night even though you are exhausted.

There are so many reasons you could be feeling fatigued, I mean think about it. During that first trimester, you are trying to go through your daily routine, all while your body is busy trying to create organs.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you aren’t able to accomplish all of the things you used to be able to, don’t get down on yourself. Creating a life sure seems like a pretty significant accomplishment.

Pregnancy is an adventure. You are going to experience numerous ups and downs, but remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You will reach the finish line in due time, and the wait will be worth it.

Can Being Tired Hurt Your Baby?

As long as you don’t have any underlying health conditions, fatigue is just a normal part of pregnancy.

The process of creating a life is a daunting task, but it is not harmful to your baby.

Feeling fatigued is a sign your body is properly making accommodations for your baby. It is likely the circulating hormones are the culprit for your first episodes of fatigue (source).

Can Fatigue Be A Sign Of A Health Problem?

Fatigue is a common symptom of many illnesses. It is an extremely common symptom of pregnancy, so if it is a side effect of another issue, your pregnancy can cause it to become easily overlooked.

When pregnant, if you are feeling crazily fatigued and you think there might be another issue, there are several health problems that could be the culprit.

  • Anemia: Pregnancy puts you at an increased risk of developing an iron deficiency. A lack of iron causes you not to have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to your tissues. This alone can leave you feeling exhausted and weak (source).
  • Depression: Feeling tired is a common side effect of depression. If you are feeling hopeless, extremely sad, or unable to complete your daily activities, depression may be to blame. If you believe you are suffering from depression, you should reach out to your doctor (source).
  • Hypothyroidism: If identified, hypothyroidism can be easily treated. It is difficult to notice because many of the symptoms are also related to pregnancy. If you notice increased fatigue, constipation, intolerance to heat, sudden shortness of breath, and significant weight gain, you may have hypothyroidism (source).
  • Gestational Diabetes: Extreme fatigue could be a symptom of gestational diabetes. This is diabetes that occurs when you are pregnant and is generally gone shortly after you give birth. The hormones in your body can interfere with your insulin production. Doctors will administer a glucose test to check for this in the second trimester. This can also be accompanied by extreme thirst and frequent urination (source).

If you have any concerns you could have an underlying issue, you should contact your doctor. A major red flag is if your fatigue hits you rather quickly and it does not lessen even after a significant rest.

How To Combat Pregnancy Fatigue

While fatigue is inevitable, there are ways for you to restore a little more energy into your daily routine.

  1. Rest: You may feel like you have to be superwoman and get everything done, but you need your rest. You shouldn’t expect to accomplish just as much now as you did before you were pregnant. It is okay for that load of laundry to wait until tomorrow. You need to cherish these last moments of you being the priority and make sure you are taking care of yourself. Go to bed early, take that extra nap, you have more than earned it.
  2. Ask For Help: If you feel pressured to accomplish some tasks, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to take over some responsibility. Some women feel guilty about doing this, but you in no way should. You and your partner are in this together. Being pregnant is a full-time job, so asking for help with the groceries or chores around the house is only fair.
  3. Exercise: If you are already tired, exercise is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Now you don’t need to run a marathon or lift weights at the gym, but a 30-minute walk outside can leave you with significant benefits. This moderate exercise can leave you feeling more energized (source). These days, there are lots of cute exercise clothes for pregnant women — so have some fun with it. As a side benefit, you can wear your maternity exercise clothes in the first few weeks after delivery when you’re still trying to lose that baby weight. Swimming is a great exercise for pregnant women. The water can take the strain off your body by making you feel almost weightless.
  4. Watch Your Diet: You are eating for two these days, and if you are slacking in the meals department, you could be adding to your fatigue. Your body relies on extra nutrition, and eating often can help maintain your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar gets low, it can directly affect your energy levels. A healthy well-balanced diet is the best option for you and your growing baby. You can dodge those super fatiguing sugar crashes by avoiding the worst of your pregnancy cravings.
  5. Avoid Caffeine: You may be tempted to indulge in some caffeine to help give you a quick energy boost, but the crash will leave you feeling more fatigued than before. Caffeine is also a stimulant, so it is best to avoid it during your pregnancy, or at least limit it to under 200 milligrams per day.
  6. Cut Back Before Bed: If you drink a lot of water before bed, you are only adding to the bathroom trips you will have to take in the middle of the night. By cutting back on liquids even an hour before bed, you can decrease the amount of middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks. Staying hydrated is an essential part of pregnancy, so make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day.
  7. Take A Bath: A bath can be the perfect method of relaxation. Not only will it help rejuvenate you, but it can also soothe your aches and pains. Just make sure the water isn’t too hot because that can pose a danger to your baby.
  8. Prenatal Massage: If you have trouble unwinding, a prenatal massage could be the perfect solution. This will force you to get some much-needed relaxation. Pregnancy can leave you feeling tense, and a prenatal massage can help heal your aches and pains, and it promotes better sleep (source).
  9. Be Realistic: Don’t set goals and expectations that you know are going to be difficult to achieve. This will only cause you to push yourself much harder than you need to and probably leave you feeling disappointed.
  10. Hang In There: Your fatigue may be getting the best of you, but it won’t last forever. Just take it one day at a time. Pretty soon you will have your beautiful baby keeping you company at all hours of the night and day! If your fatigue is impacting your daily life significantly, mention it to your doctor. He or she may have recommendations to help you get some much-needed energy back.

Remember

Don’t fight the urge to rest or take a nap. The changes occurring within your body are very demanding, and it’s only human for you to have to catch some extra sleep, no matter the time of day.

When Will Pregnancy Fatigue End?

You are probably going to experience some fatigue throughout your pregnancy. There will be times when it seems to be steady, but there will also be times when your fatigue appears to spike upwards.

Fatigue levels typically vary by each trimester, but the fatigue felt tends to be slightly different. So, hormone-induced fatigue may end, but weight-bearing fatigue will begin.

At the end of the day, if you’re tired, you’re tired. When many mothers look back on their pregnancy journey, tired is probably something they more than recall.

Your body needs more rest now than it has in a long time, so make sure you take all the time you need to help restore your energy.

When your pregnancy ends, your pregnancy fatigue will diminish, but that doesn’t mean your days of being tired are over. Once your baby makes his or her entrance into this world, a whole new type of fatigue begins.

This time, you have your eye on the prize, so it probably seems a lot more rewarding.


The Bottom Line

You are going to be significantly more tired when you are pregnant. It would be crazy if the act of creating another human didn’t take a toll on your energy levels.

Fatigue is a normal part of pregnancy, but it can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying issue. Don’t hesitate to voice any concerns with your doctor.

It is important you listen to your body and know when enough is enough. Don’t push yourself. If you are feeling exhausted, don’t be afraid to take a nap.

One day you may have bursts of energy and the next you may experience next to no energy at all. The journey to motherhood isn’t an easy one, but it is a journey worth taking.

Your fatigue will probably peak in the first trimester, diminish in the second, and then return during the third. All pregnancies are unique, so your levels of fatigue can differ from those that are considered “normal.”

Are you experienced pregnancy fatigue? Let us know how you’re coping down in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this article and thought it was helpful, please give it a share!

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