How to beat pregnancy fatigue and up your energy levels

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

Pregnancy is an amazing experience. It is full of excitement and important milestones - from finally seeing your little one on a scan photo to that precious first kick. Despite all the wonderful parts of pregnancy, you cannot ignore the not-so-fabulous elements. The grizzly side effects - morning sickness, stress, swelling up like a balloon, all that wet watery pregnancy discharge and feeling TIRED ALL THE TIME.

Read more: The early signs of pregnancy

Are you barely able to drag yourself off the sofa and you wouldn't even flinch if Ryan Gosling came to the door?

Well, feeling like your get-up-and-go has simply got-up-and-gone, aka pregnancy fatigue, has to be one of the most common complaints pregnant women have. Sadly, sleep problems can affect you in your first trimester, second trimester and (yep, you guessed it) third trimester of pregnancy.

It’s not just alack of zzz's thanks to your baby bump that’s to blame - ‘Your body’s dealing with the incredible physical challenges of pregnancy,’ says GP Dr Carol Cooper. ‘It’s been drained of nutritional reserves, deprived of rest and pushed to its limits.’

If you've had enough of feeling like a zombie, try our energy-boosting advice and you’ll soon feel ready for anything (yes, that includes you, Mr Gosling).

8 energy boosting tips:


Energy boosting tips to combat pregnancy fatigue

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1) Get a new (non-caffeine) fix

If you usually only get going thanks to an espresso IV, you may struggle with the pregnancy-safe caffeine limit of 200mg a day (that’s two mugs of instant coffee). The good news is, researchers at the University of Michigan say DIY acupressure boosts alertness as effectively. Try squeezing the fleshy pad between your thumb and first finger, massaging the base of your skull or rubbing the front of your shins.

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2) Learn to say no

In between work, shopping trips and antenatal classes, you’ll need to schedule in some R&R. Before saying yes to something, ask, ‘Can I do this?’ and ‘Do I want to?’ If the answer isn’t yes to both, don’t. ‘There’s no job as emotionally and physically taxing as being pregnant, so rest and get all the help you can,’ advises Karen Thomas, a senior midwife practitioner. ‘Ask others to pick up the slack (and the groceries), so you don’t have to.’

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3) Take a breath

Running on adrenaline is great at the time, but you will crash into a wall soon enough. If you want to stay awake for your fave soap or TV Drama after the watershed, try some deep breathing.

Put the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale through your mouth, making a ‘wheesh’ sound. Then inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breathe for seven, and exhale through your mouth for eight. Sit up straight, too. ‘Your lungs work harder when you’re pregnant and, if you slouch, you’ll reduce their capacity further and take in less oxygen, which diminishes energy,’ says Alexander technique teacher Noel Kingsley.

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4) Eat for energy

We all recognise that post-lunch dip, but researchers have put an exact time on it – beware 2.16pm. Trying to digest a big lunch before this time can make it worse, so eat half your lunch before, and the rest mid-afternoon to sustain your energy levels. ‘Grazing is fine if you reach for the healthy stuff – think houmous, yoghurt, fruit, chicken and bread,’ says Dr Rana Conway, author of What To Eat When You’re Pregnant. ‘Also stock up on healthy food that’s easy to prepare, such as baking potatoes, tins of tuna, baked beans and veg.

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5) Stay hydrated

Getting to the point where you’re just starting to feel thirsty can double your feeling of fatigue. ‘Dehydration makes you listless, dizzy and nauseous, so it’s vital to stay hydrated during pregnancy,’ says Carol. Water is ideal, but diluted squashes, fruit juice, herbal tea and coconut water, which relieves exhaustion by replenishing the natural salts lost by the body, are good, too.

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6) Up your iron

The major warning signs you’re iron deficient are tiredness, dizziness and shortness of breath. ‘Iron is one of the most essential nutrients for the growth of your baby,’ says Carol. ‘You can also become deficient as a result of bleeding during or after delivery.’ Your GP will check your levels, but also ensure you eat an iron-rich diet. ‘Good sources are meat and fish,’ says Rana. ‘Vitamin C boosts it, too, so finish your meal with a glass of orange juice.’

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7) Exercise

You might feel that exercise is the last thing on your mind during pregnancy if you're feeling tired and sluggish. However, regular exercise can increase your energy levels, make you feel less tired in the long run and even improve your sleep.

Running, walking, dancing, swimming, weight-training, cycling, pilates, aerobics and yoga (on land or in a swimming pool) are all fantastic and totally safe exercises to do with a bump. ​‘Even a modest amount of exercise during pregnancy will release those feel-good endorphins, lift your mood and make it easier to sleep, reducing stress, anxiety and depression,’ says Bump2Mum fitness expert Lucie Brand.

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8) Routine

We know finding a routine when you're pregnant and going through so many changes can be hard. But if possible, try and get up and go to sleep at roughly the same time every night as it is really beneficial to your internal body clock/circadian rhythm. This routine helps your body know when it should be feeling alert and when it should be relaxed and tired. If you can work it so you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep then that is ideal, as that is the optimal amount of sleep for an adult.

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