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Q&A: Why am I so tired all the time?

Q: I’m 11 weeks pregnant and I’m really exhausted. Why do I feel so tired all the time?

A: In early pregnancy, many women complain of fatigue. This fatigue is not like being a little tired; it feels like big-time exhaustion!

One of the hormones of pregnancy, progesterone, is the biggest culprit. This hormone makes you feel like you could put your head down no matter where you sit and take a nice, long nap! In addition to progesterone, your blood sugar is being used up for your growing baby, adding to your fatigue. Then, add to those demands your increasing blood supply (your heart works hard these days) and this too can make you tired!

The good news about this fatigue is that it ends by around week 12 (the end of your first trimester).

Some tips to help you cope:

  • Try to get nine to 10 hours of sleep at night
  • Eat small, frequent, nutritious snacks (high in protein and iron)
  • Stay well hydrated (don’t drink too much close to bedtime, as waking up to use the bathroom will interrupt your sleep)
  • Cut back on activities
  • Try to take a short nap during the day (or at least rest and put your feet up)
  • Take your prenatal vitamin
  • Exercise (as long as your doctor says it is OK)
  • Ask for help from friends and family

Extreme fatigue can be linked to anemia (low hemoglobin) or even depression. If the fatigue seems extreme and the coping techniques aren’t helping, make your doctor aware of it right away. Fatigue, like many of the symptoms of early pregnancy, may feel like it will never be over; but have no fear, this too shall pass!

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