Pregnancy and the early days of parenting can sometimes zap you of your energy. Here’s what you can do to beat it.
WORDS SUE-ANN BAUMGÄRTEL
Earlier this year, Serena Williams won her twenty-third singles title at the Australian Open. This would have been a monumental achievement for any athlete. The fact that the athlete in question was eight weeks pregnant with her first child makes it mind-blowing. This victory was a testimony to Williams’ determination, endurance and all-round superhuman abilities. However, for some lesser superwomen, pregnancy can act like Kryptonite on our superpowers. No matter how fit and focused we were before pregnancy, it is estimated that more than 50 per cent of expectant women will experience fatigue during their pregnancy.
Pregnancy fatigue, particularly during the first trimester, is more than just going to bed early in the hope of feeling better the next day. Completing the simplest tasks – like staying awake over dinner – can suddenly seem impossible and pointless. It is an all-consuming weight of exhaustion. While your body might not be showing any outwardly visible signs of pregnancy, a joyride of hormones is taking place internally. The first trimester will see a dramatic increase in progesterone levels. Progesterone acts like a muscle relaxant for the uterus, as well as aiding the immune system. On the downside, it can also contribute to a lower blood pressure, increase nausea and cause drowsiness. Add low blood sugars, and the fact that your body is growing an entire life-support system (the placenta) from scratch, it is hardly surprising that you might feel depleted of energy. Here are some ways to find your mojo again.
1. Rest and Sleep
Sounds obvious but try and clock in as much rest as possible. Whether you go to bed earlier or enjoy a catnap while your baby is sleeping, rest and quality sleep are important. Freshen up your bed, and make it as welcoming as possible with some comfy cushions and gentle lighting. For new mums, sleep can be like the Holy Grail – a myth they have heard about. Try and catch up on lost sleep whenever you can. It will get better!
Foods with a high level of protein and iron, such as eggs, dairy products, red meat and pulses, can help boost your energy levels. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron more efficiently, and can be found in peppers, broccoli and citrus fruits. Potassium rich food, such as bananas and leafy greens, help reduce unwanted nightly leg cramps. Complex carbs provide a slow and lasting release of energy. Avoid sugary and refined starchy foods that only provide a false peak of energy. Eat little but often to avoid feeling bloated, and don’t have dinner too late.
3. Vitamin Update
Update any vitamin supplement you might require by checking with your doctor. Iron-deficiency anaemia is a common cause of fatigue and can be controlled with iron supplements.
Low blood pressure can contribute to fatigue. Drinking enough water and fluids can help keep things afloat.
This might be the last thing on your mind, but any form of exercise and moving can result in a more energised and centred sense of well-being. Exercise helps improve circulation and releases positive hormones. Swimming, ten minutes on an exercise bike, or a walk after dinner – any form of low-impact movement is beneficial.