pregnant woman feeling fatigued, sitting on her couch

How to Handle Fatigue in Pregnancy

By Marisa Iallonardo
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
March 20, 2024
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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 a recent study published by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, over 94% of pregnant people said they experienced fatigue at some point in their pregnancy.

Some pregnant people feel fatigued early in pregnancy. In fact, fatigue can be one of the first symptoms of pregnancy, says Kia Hollis, a certified nurse midwife at Mercy Medical Center’s Metropolitan OB/GYN in Baltimore. It may start in the first trimester around week 5 to week 7, when the pregnancy hormone HCG increases.

It’s common to regain some energy in the second trimester, but fatigue may return in the third trimester, Hollis says.

What is Fatigue in Pregnancy?

Fatigue is when you have decreased energy levels or feel more tired than usual. Pregnancy fatigue can look different for every person, but some common symptoms include drowsiness, feeling weak or sluggish, exhaustion, difficulty focusing, and irritability.

What Causes Fatigue in Pregnancy?

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

  • Your body is changing: During pregnancy, hormone levels increase and blood volume rises. Your body is working harder to provide additional blood and oxygen to the placenta, which causes fatigue and tiredness.
  • 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: Having trouble sleeping during pregnancy is common for a variety of reasons. Your body might be uncomfortable or you need to take frequent nighttime bathroom breaks. These interruptions can impact your sleep patterns and make you very tired during the day, says Abdulla Al Khan, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.

How Can I Reduce Fatigue During Pregnancy?

Rest is key to reducing fatigue in pregnancy. You’re exerting more energy, so you need to rest more than usual to help fight pregnancy fatigue. Try to find downtime throughout the day to rest, and take midday naps if you can.

If naps aren’t an option, there are other strategies to help you sleep better during pregnancy.

Set Yourself Up for Better Sleep

Consider going to bed earlier than you usually do. This way, you may get a little more sleep on nights you’re waking a lot. Another tip Al Khan suggests: Limit fluids and empty your bladder before bedtime.

Combat pregnancy fatigue baby practicing good sleep habits. These tips can help you sleep better during pregnancy:

  • Avoid naps late in the day.
  • Avoid exercise too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime.
  • Limit screen time in the evening, 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.
  • Go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Eat a Balanced Diet and Drink Plenty of Fluids

Eating a diet rich in high-protein foods, fruits, and veggies is always important, but it’s especially crucial when trying to increase energy levels during pregnancy. A balanced diet and prenatal vitamins can help replenish the nutrition being used for baby’s growth and development, says Hollis.

Staying hydrated can also help you keep your energy levels up.

Get an Energy Boost With Exercise

To help pregnancy fatigue, try doing some mild exercises, like walking or prenatal yoga. “It might sound counterintuitive, but a brisk walk can release endorphins—the feel-good hormones—which [can] sometimes counteract fatigue,” says Hollis.

Practice Self-Care to Manage Your Stress Levels

Remember to be gentle with yourself. Fatigue during pregnancy can be an inconvenience, but it’s important not to push yourself too hard.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, Hollis recommends stress-reducing methods like deep breathing exercises and stretching. “Be aware that you might not be able to get all of the things done [on] your to-do list that you normally [can complete],” she adds. That is totally okay.

Talk to Your Doctor About Worsening or Extreme Fatigue in Pregnancy

Know that some health conditions, like anemia and thyroid issues, can also 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.