Pregnant women have a glow about them. Many also have dark circles under their eyes. Extreme tiredness during pregnancy is very common. Often, unusual fatigue is one of the first symptoms of pregnancy. This early fatigue is caused by a combination of hormones and other factors. In the majority of expectant mothers, extreme tiredness continues throughout the duration of the pregnancy.
Extreme tiredness early in the pregnancy is caused by rapidly rising levels of progesterone. Once the fertilized egg burrows into the uterine lining, the body starts producing large amounts of progesterone. In fact, large doses of the hormone have been shown to be able to put people to sleep, according to the MayoClinic.com website. During this time, many pregnant women also experience low blood sugar and low blood pressure, both of which can cause feelings of extreme fatigue.
Much of the work of forming a baby happens very early in the pregnancy. In fact, all of the baby’s major organs are formed and up and running by the 12th week of pregnancy. This is hard work on the part of the expectant mother’s body, which, along with the hormones, contributes to the extreme tiredness. Luckily, fatigue usually diminishes during the second trimester. In many mothers, it returns with a vengeance during the third trimester, when heartburn, a bulging belly and aches and pains often interfere with a good night’s sleep.
The extreme tiredness that occurs during pregnancy can’t be prevented, but there are ways to cope with it. Nap when you can, and stay as healthy as possible by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and taking prenatal vitamins. Drink water instead of coffee or other caffeinated drinks, and get outside for a brisk walk to re-energize. Learn how to say no when people ask you to take on extra tasks, and indulge in a day off once in a while when you are feeling especially fatigued. Finally, try to extend your night of rest by going to bed earlier than normal. Even an extra 15 minutes can make a big difference in how you feel.
Keep in mind that there are other causes of extreme tiredness during pregnancy that may signify an underlying problem. Anemia, or low iron levels in the blood, can leave an expectant mother drained of energy, according to the March of Dimes website. If you have dizzy spells, are often short of breath, or feel weak, have your iron levels checked. You may need to take an iron supplement for the duration of your pregnancy.
Extreme tiredness doesn’t usually go away when the baby is born. While most new mothers know that they will not get much sleep with a newborn, severe postpartum fatigue is linked to postpartum depression, according to Dr. Spock. If you feel so exhausted and depressed that you cannot cope, call a friend for help and make an appointment to see your doctor. There are many treatments for postpartum depression that can help.