Do pregnant and energetic seem contradictory? Pregnancy typically conjures up thoughts of fatigue and lethargic episodes—and while nearly every pregnant woman experiences a decrease in energy at some point during pregnancy, there are ways to boost energy levels and keep going strong until delivery.
Booster #1: Fitness
“The single most common factor my more energetic patients have is that they exercise,” says Dr. Randy Fink, MD, FACOG, and an OB-GYN in private practice in Miami, Florida. “A little time committed to physical activity can make a huge difference.” But just what sorts of exercise get your energy soaring? Just about anything that gets you on your feet and moving is beneficial.
- Get Moving: With your healthcare provider’s permission, make it a habit to engage in physical activity each day. Take a brief walk outside on your lunch hour or perform some light yoga stretches while dinner cooks, suggests Dr. Kathleen Hall, PhD, author of A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness.
- Make TV Time Productive: Rather than sitting to watch your favorite TV show, use those 30 minutes for exercise. Pedal a stationary bike or take a walk on the treadmill. Low-impact exercise is best, but the overwhelming message is the same: exercise will “reenergize and increase your oxygen, blood, and nourishment to your body,” says Dr. Hall.
- Make Exercise Fun: Getting fit doesn’t limit you to isolated exercises and toning individual muscles. When you were a kid, you naturally got exercise by running around on the playground, playing kickball, and riding your bike. Using this childlike approach to exercise can make fitness more fun! Invest in an exercise DVD with music you love, or if you have other children, dance with them as you watch one of their favorite Disney musicals, suggests Dr. Hall. Getting the blood pumping will make you feel good and reinforce a positive outlook on fitness.
Booster #2: Sleep
In our fast-paced society, making time for sleep is essential to feeling alert and ready to take on the day during pregnancy and even after delivery. The key to maintaining energy is getting enough sleep. “Proper rest,” according to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of From Fatigued to Fantastic, “means getting at least eight to nine hours of good sleep every night.” Nowadays, this may seem like a lot, considering the majority of the country is running on empty. “A hundred years ago, the average American slept nine hours at night, which has now been whittled down to six hours,” says Dr. Teitelbaum.
Booster #3: Healthy Eating
Anything you eat can be considered energy, says Dr. Hall, and you’ll benefit most from foods that provide plenty of nutrients and energy-boosting substances. Broccoli is a great source of beta carotene with vitamin C to keep you energized, reports Dr. Hall. Likewise, blueberries contain protective antioxidants and stimulate the brain. You can boost your body’s healing capabilities by eating foods containing vitamin B6 which helps the body produce serotonin, creating a calming effect. Dr. Hall suggests eating chicken, sweet potatoes, and bananas for a B6 boost.
Along with your food intake, be sure to drink plenty of water. “As a society, we walk around chronically dehydrated,” says Dr. Teitelbaum. Pregnant women, especially, should drink the recommended eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day to keep healthy and maintain stamina. Be wary of caffeinated beverages; the jury is still out on whether or not caffeine adversely affects pregnancy. Be sure to ask your OB-GYN before reaching for that iced mocha.
Booster #4: Peace of Mind
Having a calm and collected mind is vital to staying healthy during pregnancy. A few ways to keep the peace include:
- Meditation: Closing your eyes, clearing the mind, and focusing on a single image or thought for a few minutes a day can reduce blood pressure, boost the immune system, and create more energy for the day, says Dr. Hall. If meditation isn’t your thing, try taking deep breaths for a two-minute interval. By slowly and deeply inhaling and exhaling, you calm the body and mind, and restore energy.
- Take time for you: Being pregnant can be stressful. Taking time each day for yourself can significantly lower stress and keep your energy levels high. Feeling extra drained? Dr. Hall recommends taking a brief nap to restore expended energy. Listen to your favorite band or artist. Indulge in a good book. Whatever your pleasure, set aside time to enjoy it.
- Take time for your loved ones: You and your partner are in this baby journey together; make time for him during these busy nine months. Sharing a laugh with the one you love can boost your energy—and your outlook.
Energy during pregnancy doesn’t have to be a rarity. By listening to your body and taking care of yourself, energy can be more readily at your fingertips for use in planning, wondering, and thinking about the new joy in your life.