I mentioned in Staying Active in your First Trimester that the #1 symptom women experience in first trimester is low energy. Don’t get me wrong, the nausea sucks! But walking up a flight of stairs and having to take a rest break at the top just feels… pathetic! Why didn’t anyone tell us about that?
Fellow preggos, not to fear! Here are tried and true tips-n-tricks to get you at least an iota of energy back. Don’t worry, you’ll go back to feeling like a normal human being again soon enough 🙂
1) Rest and sleep to your heart’s content
Ok, maybe don’t sleep all day. But sleeping eight hours a night, running to the gym, working your full eight hours, grabbing dinner with some friends, then staying up late with your husband isn’t gonna cut it anymore. Try sleeping ten hours, working your eight hours (maybe at half productivity…), coming straight home and taking a nap, watching some TV, then going to bed early. It’s okay. You’re not lame, you haven’t forever lost your youth, and your friends won’t all wonder where you’ve disappeared to. You’re pregnant! So cut yourself some slack and let yourself sleep in and be a couch potato.
I know, it doesn’t really make sense with the whole “get more rest” thing, but this is one of those counterintuitive things that works. If you’re telling your body you need more energy, it will somehow find a way to give you more energy. You don’t have to do anything crazy (spin class probably doesn’t sound that appealing right now), but see if you can fit in a quick afternoon walk or even an easy jog. You will feel better! Bonus points, it may even help the nausea. Just don’t forget to pack an extra snack in case you feel hungrier.
Check out: Top 10 Sports for Pregnant Bodies
3) Eat well
That leads me to the next tip: make sure you’re getting enough to eat! I know it might be super hard right now, and don’t beat yourself up if all you managed today was a bagel and cup of instant mac-n-cheese. But part of your low energy could be due to your reduced caloric intake. I try to treat myself with food I don’t eat normally if it just means I’ll get SOME calories down. Hence the instant mac-n-cheese, ice cream, bagels, and store-bought smoothies. IF you can manage something healthy like an avocado wrap, carrots in hummus, or apple with peanut butter, your body will thank you. But at this point some calories are better than no calories. Eat up!
4) Drink plenty of fluids
This cannot be stated enough. Keep yourself well-hydrated! Your body will create 50% more blood over the next 9 months. The average woman has about 5 liters of blood, so that comes out to up to 2.5 liters of new blood! Seeing as blood is mostly water, that’s a lot of extra fluid for your body to retain. If you’re having trouble keeping plain water down, try Gatorade or even Pedialyte, which is designed to hydrate people who are having trouble keeping anything down. I ended up toting a bottle of grape-flavored Pedialyte around for a lot of my first trimester. I am pretty over grape flavoring at this point, but being better hydrated definitely made me feel stronger and healthier!
5) Get plenty of iron
Because we’re making so much blood, it’s easy for us to get anemic. Anemia is when your body doesn’t have enough iron, which is used to make hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is what carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, so if you don’t have enough you will feel like you just did a really hard workout… even if you’ve been sitting on the couch. Try eating iron-rich food like red meat, greens, and beans. You may even be able to take an iron supplement. Talk to your doctor first though because it could make you more constipated. Lots of prenatal vitamins don’t have iron for this reason. Even if you’re not diagnosed as anemic, getting more oxygen into your blood will help you feel less tired.
6) Get some fresh air
The last item on this list is something that can help anyone feel better, pregnant or not: get some fresh air! Whether that means eating breakfast on the porch or going for a quick stroll before starting your day, getting outside and out of the house can be an instant mood-booster. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells around you. Let your breath slow and deepen. Remember that you are growing a miraculous little person inside of you. You have been blessed with the gift of life! Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel a little slower than usual. You will feel better again soon 🙂