Pregnancy and Fatigue

As a personal trainer and mother of a 10 year-old, I was highly confident of my ability to stay fit and on-task heading in to my second pregnancy.   After all I have been through pregnancy before. I know what it throws at you; the nausea, fatigue, mood swings, food aversions – I got this. After my first pregnancy I truly thought I was an expert on “what to expect when you’re expecting”.  As an expert, I considered myself overly prepared to handle these things in a way that would allow me to stay “skinny” or “fit” and simply develop a lovely little baby bump that everyone I know would say is “so cute” and of course tell me I was “all belly”.  The first few days of pregnancy I was floating on a cloud. Things would be perfect. I would be prepared. I would eat right in spite of the nausea. I would exercise no matter what. I would keep the baby safe, fed and nourished. All would be well.

I was a FOOL.

It was less than a week before my superficial happiness bubble burst into thin air and I was left wondering how I was going to survive the next 8 months.  It all came crashing down on my way home from work one evening. I was roughly 6 weeks pregnant and up until that point I really had no symptoms. As I drove home from a normal day of work I was suddenly struck by such overwhelming fatigue that I thought I was going to have to pull over or risk falling asleep behind the wheel.  

It was 5:30pm.  

My drive from work is roughly 45 minutes on a good day.  Head bobbing and eyes heavy I made my way home, walked through my front door and straight up the stairs into my bed.  I think I took my shoes off but who can be sure in these moments. All I know is that my husband and son had to fend for themselves for dinner that night, and were probably wondering what the heck happened to their nice, normal, energetic wife and mom.  It is more than likely that my son stayed up later than usual, played video games in his underwear and forgot to brush his teeth before my husband sent him to bed. I was down for the count until the next morning.

This was just the beginning.

Fatigue is a normal part of pregnancy and for me this was just the start.  Exhaustion set in on me like a dense fog. Over the next few weeks I would struggle more than I could ever imagine.  Getting through my days was hard enough but workouts became such a struggle they were nearly ineffective and my guilt rose incrementally as my energy to take care of my family decreased.  I kept telling myself to snap out of it. “I am not this person,” I would say as I crawled into bed midday to “just rest for a minute”. “I’m sorry”, I would tell my husband and son after we ate our take-out dinner and I was headed to bed at 9:00 at night.  

Fatigue affects all pregnant women differently and at different times so if you find yourself drowning in drowsiness, feeling frustrated and overcome with guilt about all of the things you are not accomplishing then try to remember these few things:

  1. This too shall pass…at least that is the mantra I keep repeating to myself.  During the first trimester a huge portion of energy is devoted to the gigantic task of building the placenta, raising your metabolism, lowering your blood sugar and blood pressure and essentially wreaking havoc on your entire system.  As the second trimester arrives, construction of the placenta is finished and energy is restored. Hang in there it will be here before you know it.  

  2. It’s okay to ask for help!  I know those words sound like a foreign language but the first trimester is no time to be a hero.  Allow your family, friends and co-workers to take some responsibilities off of your plate. You won’t regret it.

  3. A happy pregnancy is a guilt-free pregnancy.  So you didn’t get your workout in today; you may not have cleaned the house in weeks and maybe your laundry is piling up.  Don’t beat yourself up! Remember that your body is undergoing a huge task and give yourself a little bit of grace about the other things.   

You got this, mama! 

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