More Energy for Moms-to-Be
It's a common pregnancy scenario: All day long, you feel like you could fall asleep. But at night, you just can't get good rest. Here's the help you need.
It's not uncommon to feel more tired than usual when you're pregnant. The hormonal fluctuations and physical discomfort caused by your changing body can make rest and relaxation a real challenge. Here are a few ways to feel more energetic during the day and sleep easier at night.
Keep moving. It may sound counterintuitive, but exercise actually fights fatigue and promotes better sleep. Many exercises are safe during pregnancy, as long as you don't overdo it. The biggest watch-outs: Avoid high-impact movements, activities that increase trauma risk to the abdomen, and exercises that require you to lie on your back.
To reap the energy benefits, aim for at least 30 minutes of low-impact exercise three times a week. A few great choices: walking, swimming, and low-impact aerobics. But first, talk with your doctor about any health conditions that may prevent you from exercising during pregnancy, such as diabetes, a history of miscarriage, or a weak cervix.
Enlist help. No wonder you're fatigued! Your body is working overtime to prepare for the little newcomer. Delegate some of the housework, cooking, errands, and other chores to your partner, or ask friends and family for help.
Drink up. Dehydration can cause anyone to feel fatigued. Pregnant women should drink at least six 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Water not only fights fatigue, it also carries nutrients to your baby. And it helps prevent a number of pregnancy woes, including hemorrhoids, excessive swelling, constipation, and urinary tract infections.
Take a daily prenatal vitamin. Make sure it contains at least 30 milligrams of iron, which helps prevent iron-deficiency anemia—a common cause of pregnancy fatigue. Women need an estimated 50 percent more iron during pregnancy. If fatigue is persistent, ask your doctor about a test for anemia at your next prenatal appointment.
Get rid of reflux. Reflux is a common symptom of pregnancy and a real sleep-stealer. To combat the symptoms, lie on your left side, using a wedge-shaped head pillow to alleviate pressure on your throat, chest, and lungs.
Relax. Place a lavender-filled eye pillow over your eyes and practice slow, deep breathing in a quiet room for at least 15 minutes each day.
Reflect. Too excited/worried/anxious to sleep? Keep a journal at your bedside. Write down your thoughts about the pregnancy and your hopes and dreams for your baby. The practice will help you relax (and it makes a nice keepsake).
And don't be afraid to turn in early when you need to—it could even make your delivery easier. Women who slept seven or more hours nightly shaved about 11 hours off their labor compared with those who got less than six hours of shut-eye, report researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The sleep-deprived were also nearly five times more likely to have a C-section. Pretty convincing argument to put a priority on sleep!
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