Fatigue is one of the more unpleasant
early signs of
Sleeping more helps and enhances
wellbeing and baby's development
. It also
you fit for when baby arrives
Easier said than done of course: with hormones racing and
your belly growing, it is not always easy to get the extra sleep you
But with a few simple gestures, you can
relieve the fatigue
Pregnancy fatigue and sleeping problems
may come as a bit of a shock for
an active healthy woman: suddenly your body seems unable to
Things you used to do without even thinking about it, can now be too
daunting, just because you're tired.
You may feel tired constantly, be
wasted by dinnertime, or even wake up every morning and not feel rested
at all ... it's inevitable unfortunately but
luckily all normal
most of us.
Especially during the first trimester, a lot of your body's energy goes
into the early development of baby and the placenta. You will naturally
want to sleep more.
Later on in pregnancy, your body still needs extra energy although the
pregnancy fatigue may be less - your body adjusts.
But you may have more
now, like finding a good sleeping position,Â getting up a
times to go to the bathroom, worrying about delivery, etc ... (see
for tips). All leaving you tired as well.
course, if you feel extremely tired at any point during pregnancy, and
doubt whether this is still normal, don't hesitate to ask a medical
Pregnancy Fatigue Tips
What you can do:
Understand the fatigue and sleep when you can
There's no way
around it, your body needs more sleep during pregnancy. Difficult as
you may find it, it is important to
with what many still think, there is no shame at all in taking a nap or going
to bed earlier. Forgot about what 'they think', it's about you and your
more may not always be practical, especially with older
siblings and/or work or social obligations. But every half hour extra you can get relieves the
pregnancy fatigue a bit and
you and your baby will benefit from it
Find a good pregnancy sleeping position
As your belly
grows, it may become difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position.
will soon become impossible, and not suited.
will soon not be comfortable. Your baby's weight will also put pressure
on your spine and the large vein running down it, which is not easy on
is the best sleeping position throughout pregnancy. If you don't
usually sleep on your side, then it's a good idea to start practicing
early on in pregnancy.
Ideally you will be curling up a bit: on your side, your knees bent,
your top knee over and in front of the other knee.
pillow (also called pregnancy pillow) or also a breastfeeding pillow,
can help you find, and keep, a comfy position.
advise to sleep on your left side - to spare the liver located on the
right - check with your doctor or midwife when you can.
Dealing with leg and toe cramps
have frequent leg or
toe cramps when pregnant. More often than not, these occur in the
middle of the night - and can be very painful.
To relieve a lower leg or toe cramp your toes need to be pushed upwards
stretch your calve
another person will do this for you. If you are alone, press your toes
against the bedside or wall to get the stretch. Throughout, relax by
breathing deeply and slowly, then gently release the stretch.
a very simple
for such muscle cramps:
eat a banana
It is a healthy source of magnesium, which helps prevent
cramps ot if unavoidable, make them less painful.
If you have very frequent and very painful cramps, do consult your
doctor who may advise further.
Preventing all too frequent bathroom stops
common pregnancy 'feature':
. Thanks to hormones your body produces more
liquid. And with your uterus growing, there is also less space for your
All leading to more 'need to go', unfortunately
also during the night
waking you up frequently. Some tips:
You can reduce this a bit by the
less late at night
and avoiding (heavy) meals or snacks late. Don't exaggerate though:
your body still needs to be hydrated well.
is the best choice in the evening. Definitely avoid tea and coffee: not
only can they keep you awake, but they are also so-called
meaning that they make your body produce more urine than it would from the same amount of water.
If you can arrange it practically,
the half-hour trick
can help you avoid a few nightly bathroom runs. Pee about half an hour
or an hour before you go to bed.
that half hour/hour, rest in the sofa, preferably with your legs
stretched out. Then go the bathroom right before bed. During the rest,
your body will have the chance to drain some liquid that gathered in
your limbs - a big reason for the first few night wakings.
Remember optimal sleep hygiene
For the best
chance for good sleep, follow the super basic but truly effective sleep hygiene guidelines:
an attractive cosy place to relax
- not too hot not too
- go to bed and get up at
- prepare your body for bed with a
the following food and drinks in the afternoon and evening, as
they will keep you awake:
- Coffee and tea (remember that even
most white and green teas contain caffeine). It takes about 6 hours for
your body to clear the caffeine
- Chocolate (contains caffeine too)
- Sugary snacks and drinks
- Smoking (which you want to avoid anyway, see
Water, a glass of warm milk or herbal tea before bed are OK, unless
they make you pee too much at night (check above).
precious baby growing in your belly, expectation and maybe worries
about the upcoming delivery and newborn baby: it could take less to
keep a mom-to-be lie awake at night.
Also, never hesitate to talk about you worries with your partner,
family or friends. Consider a local pregnancy information group or ask
your doctor for extra information about delivery and baby.
Knowing more will make you feel more prepared and help you relax better.
can make the first weeks or months of your pregnancy quite tough. It
can even make you wonder how you will ever make it to the end.
But hang in there! Allow (!) yourself to rest and sleep as much as you can and things will get better. If you remain extremely tired and/or sleep deprived, or if otherwise have any concern about your sleep at all, ask you doctor or health care advisor.
Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.
Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.
Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.
She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.