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Understanding Pregnancy Fatigue: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

What You Need to Know About Pregnancy Fatigue 

Are you always sleepy no matter how much sleep you get at night? Do you struggle to get out of bed? If you are pregnant and answered yes to the above questions, you probably have pregnancy fatigue. This is a very normal symptom of pregnancy. 

In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about pregnancy fatigue, starting with the causes, signs, and symptoms, and then break it down by trimester. We’ll even go through our best tips for how to overcome tiredness during pregnancy and answers to some other common questions like when does first trimester fatigue peak and does ovulation make you tired?  

Haven’t shared your pregnancy news yet with family and friends? Check out our article on 25 fun ways to tell family you’re pregnant.  

What is Pregnancy Fatigue?

One very common reason for fatigue in females is pregnancy. In fact, sometimes fatigue is a sign of pregnancy before you even know that you’re pregnant. So, what exactly is fatigue in pregnancy and what does it look like?

It can vary from person to person, but pregnancy fatigue is a general lack of energy and constant state of tiredness. 

What causes pregnancy fatigue?

Whether you are 24 weeks pregnant and exhausted or pregnant and can’t sleep in the 3rd trimester, your body is undergoing significant change. These changes range from hormonal and emotional shifts to physically making the placenta and providing blood and nutrients, all of which can contribute to pregnancy fatigue. 

What does pregnancy fatigue feel like?

As we mentioned earlier, pregnancy fatigue can vary from person to person, but it can also vary from trimester to trimester of your pregnancy. First trimester fatigue can feel very different from third trimester fatigue.

We’ll cover those differences a little later, but fatigue symptoms can range from feeling nauseous, drained, and tired to extreme exhaustion and lack of interest in everyday activities. 

Pregnancy Fatigue Signs and Symptoms

If you’re pregnant, have you said to yourself, “my body feels heavy and sluggish” or “I just feel tired all the time”? This sluggishness and state of constant tiredness for women can be difficult to work through, but it’s an entirely normal pregnancy symptom. 

Most pregnant people will experience at least some level of fatigue with the following signs and symptoms during their pregnancy. 

    • Sluggishness
    • Constant tiredness
    • Exhaustion
    • Low energy levels
    • Lack of interest in normal activities
    • Body feeling heavy
    • General weakness

How Long Does Pregnancy Fatigue Last?

While pregnancy fatigue is usually worse in the first trimester and subsides in the second trimester, there is really no one answer here. You may experience little to no fatigue in pregnancy, or you may experience it throughout the entirety. 

Whatever your situation, just be sure to keep your doctor informed. 

Is it normal to feel pregnancy fatigue?

Low energy levels for females can be frustrating to deal with whether you’re pregnant or not, but rest assured that fatigue is entirely normal during your pregnancy.

Keep your doctor up to date on signs and symptoms you are experiencing, and read more below for specifics about pregnancy fatigue by trimester. 

woman laying on a bed with pregnancy pillow

Pregnancy Fatigue by Trimester

Growing a baby is a huge undertaking and involves lots of change in a relatively short amount of time. All of these changes put energy demands on your body which in turn can make you feel tired and depleted.

Since the first trimester is one involving the biggest and most crucial changes, it is often the one where fatigue is experienced the most severely.Let’s take a look at each trimester individually and how the fatigue usually compares. 

Fatigue in Early Pregnancy

So, when does pregnancy fatigue start and when does first trimester fatigue peak? The first signs of exhaustion and fatigue can begin as early as one week into your pregnancy. Fatigue is often the first indicator that you are pregnant, but be sure to confirm with a pregnancy test. 

Fatigue during ovulation is also entirely possible, although usually only if you have a history of being tired during ovulation. It is common for fatigue to peak around weeks 10-12 of pregnancy. 

From early pregnancy to 3 months pregnant (weeks 1-13), you are in the first trimester and your body is undergoing a lot of change in preparation for your baby. Your body is working hard at growing the placenta from scratch, producing extra blood, and ramping up levels of the hormone progesterone.

The energy demands on your body can result in pregnancy exhaustion and fatigue. As a side note, it’s said that extreme tiredness during early pregnancy can indicate the gender is a girl because carrying girls more often results in higher likelihood of nausea and extreme fatigue. 

Second Trimester Fatigue

By the time you hit your second trimester (weeks 14-27), you may find that your energy levels have slightly returned. Your body has had some time to adjust to the new hormone levels and the placenta is done being made. 

Your baby bump is growing, but it’s not at the point yet where you have too much discomfort or trouble sleeping. Some level of relief and a bounce back in energy can be expected, but if you find yourself 26 weeks and tired still, this is also normal. Keep in mind that everyone experiences pregnancy differently.  

Third Trimester Pregnancy Fatigue

When you approach your third trimester at 28 weeks, your body is carrying around extra weight due to your growing baby. The pregnancy fatigue you experience during your third trimester is less likely to be about hormones and physical changes, and more likely to be about interrupted sleep.

You’re probably getting more and more uncomfortable as your bump gets bigger and may be experiencing aches and pains, more frequent trips to the bathroom, and even pregnancy sciatica pain which can all contribute to difficulty sleeping. Feeling weak and shaky during pregnancy in the third trimester can be a sign of low blood sugar, so keep snacks on hand.

Getting the sleep you need throughout your pregnancy is easier said than done, but our guide for getting better sleep while pregnant can help! 

woman sitting on bed with boppy pregnancy pillow

9 Remedies for Pregnancy Fatigue

If you’re here because you are currently experiencing fatigue during your pregnancy, you’re likely looking for answers for how to overcome tiredness during pregnancy and how to get energy while pregnant. 

While there is no magic solution, there are a number of tried and true tricks to help move your energy needle in the right direction. 

Eat a Balanced Diet 

Making sure your body receives adequate vitamins and nutrients during this time of incredible growth is essential. Stick to healthy whole foods like vegetables and be sure to incorporate protein. 

A healthy and balanced diet throughout your entire pregnancy will help to support all of the extra energy demands on your body. 

Drink Lots of Water

In addition to a healthy and balanced diet, staying hydrated throughout the day can help with your energy levels. Drinking fluids consistently will ensure you don’t become dehydrated, which also can have a negative impact on your energy levels. 

However, try to avoid excessive water right before bedtime to minimize urgent trips to the bathroom during the night. 

Get Proper Sleep

Getting enough deep sleep is vital for all of us, whether you are pregnant or not. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and maybe even a nap or two throughout the day.

Experiment with winding down for bed a little earlier than normal, eventually shifting up your normal bedtime. One of our favorite tips for better sleep is a comfortable and supportive pregnancy pillow

Eat Smaller Meals

We mentioned a balanced diet earlier, but did you know that eating smaller meals can also help with pregnancy fatigue? By eating small doses of food throughout the day, you can help keep your blood sugar levels, and thus your energy levels, consistent.

As an added bonus, eating smaller meals can also reduce any pregnancy nausea you might be experiencing.  

Stay Active

This one may seem counterintuitive, but staying active throughout the day can actually support a better night’s sleep when you are ready for bed. Exercise also improves blood circulation and gives you a boost of endorphins, increasing your mood and energy. 

Daily activity can be as simple as regular walks outside or prenatal yoga classes, but check with your doctor first to get the okay. 

Reduce Your Commitments

As you navigate your pregnancy, keep in mind that you may not be able to show up at the same level you did before your pregnancy. This is true for both your work and social commitments. 

Take a look at your current schedule and commitments and think about which items you can remove or adjust down to accommodate your new energy levels. 

Listen To Your Body

During pregnancy especially, it is more important than ever to listen to your body. Consult with your doctor if something doesn’t feel right and take time to rest when you need it. Breaks and naps throughout the day are totally normal and okay, even if you weren’t a nap person before.

If you’re feeling achy, try pregnancy stretches or a pregnancy pillow for added support. 

Accept Help

Low energy levels may mean that you can’t be as present for your family and the demands that come with everyday life, so accept help when offered. A home cooked meal from a friend or an offer to walk your dog can make a big difference when you’re not feeling like yourself. 

If you have a partner or other family you can turn to, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. 

Since you don’t feel quite like yourself, taking time for yourself in whatever way feels best can be a major uplift to your mood and energy. Maybe you feel like trying a prenatal yoga class, taking a long bath, or reading in bed.

Make sure you spend a little time each day listening to your needs. Deep breathing, stretching, and meditation are all great ways to devote time to your body, reduce stress, and recenter.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Sometimes symptoms experienced during pregnancy can be hard to distinguish as a normal pregnancy symptom or something more severe. Always consult with your doctor on anything unusual you are feeling and listen to your body.

As a general rule, if your fatigue symptoms are extreme and persistent, leaving you feeling faint or preventing you from doing normal daily activities, it’s time to seek medical attention. The same is true for when should swelling during pregnancy be a concern; if it’s extreme swelling it might be time to reach out to your doctor.

  • Severe, constant fatigue
  • Unusual weakness or dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme swelling in feet, hands, or face
  • Persistent headache
  • Major vision changes

Manage Pregnancy Fatigue by Getting Good Sleep with Boppy Pregnancy Pillow

On top of all the hormonal and physical changes your body is going through, pregnancy is a time that can be filled with added stress about labor and delivery and life after the baby's arrival. Now is the time to really prioritize rest and taking care of you. Pregnancy pillows are designed with your changing body in mind, supporting your growing belly and helping to reduce any aches and pains you experience throughout the night.   

At Boppy, we’re here for you! Our comfortable and versatile pregnancy pillows come in a range of neutral colors and patterns and are designed and tested with you and baby in mind.

See the difference a Boppy pregnancy pillow can make for your sleep, and check out our blog for more pregnancy-related tips and product recommendations from industry experts. 


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