One of the most noticeable and more challenging symptoms in the first trimester of pregnancy is fatigue. This run-over-by-a-truck, let-me-just-lie-down kind of exhaustion often catches first-time parents by surprise -- how could you be that tired when your baby is barely the size of a blueberry?
Despite the fact that your pregnancy isn't visible to people from the outside, your first trimester is when the most changes and activity are happening on the inside. During this initial time of rapid growth and development, your hormone levels increase significantly, your body's blood volume rises, and your heart rate goes up. Your baby is growing from a single fertilized cell into a fully formed fetus with fingers and toes that open and close, and a functioning excretory system!
All this to say that feeling tired -- SO tired -- is to be expected and normal. While there isn't anything you can do to completely get rid of this feeling, there are some things you can do to help yourself handle it better and make sure it isn't as bad as it could be.
Solid nightly sleep - The importance of adequate sleep cannot be overstated. Six hours a night isn't going to cut it. For adults, the recommended nightly sleep for good health and well being is between 7-9 hours. Pay attention to how long you sleep when you don't have an alarm to wake you up, like on the weekends. You may be surprised to learn that your body leans closer to 8 or 9 hours of nightly sleep. During pregnancy, it's important to do what it takes to get adequate, restful sleep as many nights a week as possible. This will help you stay healthy, physically and mentally, and help fight off additional fatigue during the first trimester and beyond. When possible, go to bed at the first sign of sleepiness. Be sure to avoid electronic screens an hour before bed. Create a bedtime ritual to help you get into a better habit. Create priorities of what needs to be finished or started in the evening and what can wait until the next day. Good sleep is critical!
Cat naps - A nap does not make up for a poor night's sleep, but a well-timed nap can help you power on through the rest of the day, and leave you feeling recharged and energized. The ideal nap length is no longer than 10-20 minutes (truly!). Longer naps can actually leave you feeling more tired and can interfere with nighttime sleep.
Reevaluate your commitments - What, in life, are you committed to right now? Could some of these commitments and "obligations" be put on hold for 4-6 weeks, at least until you're through your first trimester? Take a hard look at the things on your plate and consider moving a few off. Doing so will give you more time to focus on your own well being at a time when exhaustion happens even during the simplest of days.
Check in with your nutrition - What you eat and drink matters when it comes to how you feel! Are you getting well balanced nutrition, eating regular meals and snacks, drinking plenty of water? Increased protein and fruits and vegetables, along with adequate daily water intake, will help boost your energy throughout the day.
Delegate responsibilities - Look to see if there is something you're responsible for right now that could easily be handled by someone else. Free up some time while still ensuring that things get done. It can be hard for some of us to ask for help, but consider that the health of you and your baby is important and worth the asking!
Acceptance - Exhaustion and fatigue are normal, expected parts of being in your first trimester of pregnancy. There's not much you can do to fight it, wish it away, or pretend you're still in the same pre-pregnant body. Accepting where you are in life and in pregnancy is an important piece of change and growth. Our bodies and our lives are built for change -- our job is to recognize, make peace, and move forward.