How to Handle Fatigue While Pregnant

By Marisa Iallonardo
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
August 10, 2023
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Now that you’re pregnant, you may find yourself ready to crawl into bed at 7 p.m. Or maybe you’re falling asleep halfway through any movie you try to watch. That’s pretty common. In one study, over 94% of pregnant people said they experienced fatigue at some point in their pregnancy.

Some pregnant people feel fatigue early in pregnancy. It can be one of the first symptoms they experience, says Kia Hollis, a certified nurse midwife at Mercy Medical Center’s Metropolitan OB/GYN in Baltimore.

It’s common to regain some energy in the second trimester. But fatigue may be back in full force in the third trimester, Hollis says.

What Causes Fatigue During Pregnancy?

There are a few different reasons you may be feeling fatigue:

  • Your body’s changing: During pregnancy, hormone levels increase and your blood volume rises. This is to provide blood and oxygen to the placenta, which can make your heart and your whole body work harder.
  • Your energy is going toward growing your baby: “The baby is in a process of rapid growth and development, and so they steal a lot of your daily nutrients and leave you sometimes in a place of deficit,” Hollis says.
  • Your sleep is disrupted: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy is common for a variety of reasons. You may simply be uncomfortable or you may wake up to use the bathroom. This can impact your sleep patterns and make you very tired during the day, Abdulla Al Khan, M.D., says. Al Khan is a board-certified ob-gyn and director of maternal-fetal medicine and surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

How Can I Reduce Fatigue During Pregnancy?

Rest is key. If you can take naps or have downtime throughout the day, it’s helpful. There are some other things you can try too:

Limit fluids and empty your bladder before bedtime, suggests Al Khan.

Practice good sleep habits to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. To do this:

  • Avoid naps late in the day.
  • Avoid exercise too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Limit screen time in the evening and especially while in bed.
  • Have a wind-down routine to relax your body before bed—stretch, meditate, drink herbal tea, read, or whatever else calms you.

Eat well, including high-protein foods, fruits, and veggies, which can help replenish the nutrition being used for baby’s growth and development, says Hollis. Take your prenatal vitamins, too.

Do some mild exercise. “It might sound counterintuitive, but a brisk walk can release endorphins—the feel good hormones—which sometimes counteract fatigue,” says Hollis.

Be gentle with yourself. Stretches and deep breathing can reduce stress, says Hollis. Take care not to push yourself too hard. “Be aware that you might not be able to get all of the things done [on] your to-do list that you normally are.” That is totally ok.

Also, know that some health conditions, like anemia and thyroid issues, can cause fatigue. “If you feel that your fatigue is something that’s getting progressively worse, seek medical attention,” says Al Khan. Talking to your doctor or midwife and asking questions—about this or any other issues that might come up—are key to a healthy pregnancy.

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