Chronic Fatigue Female Hormones Pregnancy

In some women, the hormonal and physical changes that accompany pregnancy cause symptoms of extreme fatigue. Early pregnancy fatigue, in which a woman constantly feels exhausted only during the first trimester of her pregnancy, is the most common type. Most women recover from early pregnancy fatigue by the second trimester, beginning in the fourth month of pregnancy.

Extreme fatigue can set in again during the third trimester (the last three months of pregnancy) when the size of the fetus adds extra weight to the woman’s frame and exerts pressure on her back, bladder and other parts of her body.

Early Pregnancy Fatigue and Progesterone

During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces many more hormones than it usually does. Progesterone, a hormone usually present in women, is produced in very large amounts during the first few months of pregnancy. Progesterone in large doses can cause tiredness, so early pregnancy fatigue may not be improved by sleep. Frequent urination and nausea commonly disrupt sleep during pregnancy, further contributing to fatigue.

Other Links Between Fatigue and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is also associated with lowered blood sugar and low blood pressure, both of which can contribute to extreme fatigue. Many of the body’s resources go towards nurturing the growing fetus, which often causes the mother’s energy to be depleted quickly. Additionally, many women experience nausea during the first few months of pregnancy; this can lead to dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, and persistent exhaustion.

Methods of Alleviating Early Pregnancy Fatigue

Changing your daily habits and leading a healthy lifestyle can minimize fatigue during pregnancy. Some ways to help your body cope with, and recover from, early pregnancy fatigue include:

  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet: Eat several small meals throughout the day to make digestion easier on your body and minimize nausea. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains, and drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
  • Exercising daily: While it may be difficult to exercise when you’re tired, gentle yoga, walking or stretching can help relieve aches and pains and give you an energy boost.
  • Getting enough sleep: Obvious as it may sound, sleep when you’re tired. Take a nap at least once a day and go to bed early.
  • Maintaining a support network: Ask your family or close friends to take on some of the household chores that you normally take care of.
  • Taking breaks when you’re tired: Give yourself a break from household duties and social activities to conserve your energy.

When to See a Doctor

Seeing a doctor regularly is important during any pregnancy, but consulting a doctor specifically about your fatigue may be necessary in certain cases. While fatigue and pregnancy go hand-in-hand for many women, extreme fatigue that continues well into the second trimester can be indicative of a medical problem, such as depression or anemia. Consult a physician if your fatigue is debilitating or persists after your second trimester.

Resources

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2010). Fatigue during pregnancy. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.babycenter.com/0_fatigue-during-pregnancy_2911.bc

Women’s Healthcare Topics. (2010). Fatigue during pregnancy. Retrieved October 4, 2010, from http://www.womenshealthcaretopics.com/preg_fatigue_during.htm