Feeling completely zapped is normal during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters. Your body is working harder than usual to nurture your baby, and your hormones are going wild too. If you're feeling too drained to function, consult your doctor. But for most moms-to-be, a few simple lifestyle changes provide the boost needed to get it all done.
Energizer One: Sleep
Sleep is the most obvious antidote to fatigue during pregnancy but can also be the hardest to achieve. You may need as much as a few hours more sleep per night while pregnant than you did pre-pregnancy and can benefit from short midday naps as well.
Try to get in the habit of sleeping on your left side—doctors recommend this position because it increases your circulation and keeps pressure off your liver. Placing pillows between your knees, behind your back and under your belly will help you feel supported. Limit beverages for at least a few hours before bed to cut down on bathroom breaks. Stretch and flex your feet before lying down if you're prone to restless legs syndrome, which is common in pregnancy. Thinking of sleep as medically necessary may make it easier to turn down evening plans or ask for extra household help from friends and family.
Energizer Two: Low-Sugar, High-Fiber Foods
Resist the siren song of the drive-through window or junk food cabinet when you're feeling drained. Instead, reach for foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber, advises Marianne Ryan, a Manhattan-based physical therapist who specializes in pregnant and postpartum fitness. "Foods that are higher in sugar and carbohydrates tend to spike the blood sugar and will cause you to feel tired when the blood sugar dips back down," she explains. Snacking on oatmeal, yogurt, whole-grain crackers and hummus, or a nut-topped salad will keep you satisfied and energized far longer than chips or ice cream will.
Energizer Three: Exercise
Exercise is the absolute last thing you feel like doing when you're beat, but willing yourself to leave the couch can pay off—provided your doctor has given you permission to be active. Walk around the block, try some pregnancy yoga or swim a few laps. Just five minutes of movement can help you push past a sleepy moment. Stop exercising if you feel any pain or if you're becoming more fatigued instead of less.
Energizer Four: Meditation
Even a short meditation session can provide a boost in energy, Ryan says. She advises meditating in a room with a closed door. Sit cross-legged with hands on your knees, palms up, or lie down with pillows under your head and knees. Set a quiet alarm to go off in 10 minutes. While breathing through your nose, Ryan suggests "scanning" your body from top to bottom. Focus on one place at a time, moving from your face to your neck to your shoulders and so on, relaxing each area and releasing any tension you're holding there. When you're done, try to clear your mind and focus on your breath until the alarm sounds.
The arrival of your baby will make daily life unpredictable. For now, use the luxury of a predictable schedule to help you make your energy a priority. Keep track of the times of day when you feel most sluggish. Each morning, write out a schedule that gives you short nap, exercise or snack breaks during these times. Write down your target bedtime and plan the end of your day backwards from there. For instance, if you want to go to sleep by 9 p.m., you might plan to get in bed at 8:30, shower at 8 and eat dinner at 7.
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