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Feeling dog tired, can’t summon the energy to do much of anything, and craving your bed? For many women, the extreme tiredness of the first trimester is quite a surprise. And it’s an especially hard transition for those who are normally go-getters with lots of energy. Women who usually need only 6 hours of sleep at night often find they need nearly double that during these first weeks of pregnancy. And, for others, daytime tiredness is paired with trouble sleeping deeply or for more than a few hours at night. Nausea and vomiting can also be a big drain on your energy.
Fortunately, this is normal. It’s a signal from your body to slow down and give it time to adjust to the incredible changes happening inside. Hormone changes play a big role in making you feel tired, especially the hormone progesterone. This hormone rises sharply in the first trimester. In addition, as blood volume increases to supply the developing placenta and fetal circulation, your heart pumps faster and stronger. This results in faster pulse and breathing rates. Low iron levels can sometimes make you tired, as well, although this is more common in later pregnancy.
For most women, the extreme fatigue of the first trimester is soon forgotten with the glow and boost in energy that comes with the second trimester. So, if it seems like all you’re doing these first few weeks is lying around, dozing, or napping, don’t worry. It's normal. Although fatigue often returns in the third trimester because of disrupted sleep and increasing discomforts, this too will pass in time.
Good nutrition and eating small, frequent, healthy meals can keep you going and can also help with nausea.
If you’re at work and fighting back drooping eyelids, try some stretches or deep breathing exercises. Or get up and walk around the office or take a break outside.
When you can, go for a brisk walk around the block. A little exercise can energize you and may help you rest better when you do get to sleep.
Adapt your sleep habits. Take naps, if possible, during the day. You may also want to try going to bed earlier.
Drink enough fluids during the day and little several hours before bedtime. This may help you avoid having to get up to urinate during the night.
Squelch the urge to drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks to stay alert, as the caffeine really isn’t good for your developing baby. Instead, drink plenty of water.
It's easy to feel guilty about not being able to do everything like you’re used to. It's OK to pamper yourself. By reducing any extra job or social commitments during these first few weeks, you can be as productive as possible in your regular responsibilities.
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.