Fatigue in pregnancy is most common in the first and third trimester. Though contrary to popular belief, fatigue is not par for the course in pregnancy. Fortunately, there are some very effective strategies, foods and tools that pregnant women can use to boost their energy and vibrancy in pregnancy. Interested in knowing what three women’s health specialists with various specialities do to address fatigue in pregnancy? Then read on! After you’re done, you can get more amazing holistic health support from these specialists by joining their private FB group. Here’s what they said:
Zoe Culbertson, Lic. Acupuncturist, Herbalist, and Meditation Teacher from Seaside Family Acupuncture
The three main things I do for pregnant women who are feeling exhausted are:
- Use acupuncture and shiatsu to support the Kidneys and Spleen & Stomach for energy and vibrancy. In Chinese medicine the Kidney organ network is like the battery that provides energy and governs different phases in life and stages of development, especially in pregnancy. Some common acupressure points I stimulate for fatigue are Stomach 36 (3 mile point for when you need to walk 3 more miles) and Kidney 1 (bubbling spring) and Kidney 27 for adrenal fatigue. (Images of the points?)
- Guide you through a mindfulness meditation practice to create a spacious pause from whatever is draining your vibrancy. Through meditation you can start to connect deeper within, making space for needs as they arise and finding ways to nourish yourself so that you can develop more resiliency and balance.
- Take a closer look at your diet and lifestyle. Our body makes qi or energy from the food and air we take in to our bodies. How you eat is just as important as what you are eating. The digestive center in Chinese medicine is the spleen and stomach, which prefers warm, well-cooked foods like soups and stews and roasted veggies. Eating calmly without multi-tasking allows the food to be better processed and assimilated. I might also offer some qi gong exercises to synchronize the breath with gentle exercises and generate energy through mindful movement.
Darcier Pervier, MSPT, PES Women’s Health Floor Physical Therapist and Pelvic Pain Coach from Newburyport Wellness
Once fatigue sets in, it can start a never-ending cycle. That’s why it is so important to be proactive in your self care regime and have a few go to action steps for when fatigue sets in. I have yet to meet a pregnant woman who hasn’t experienced fatigue. Developing a few habits during pregnancy is a critical first step to thriving during pregnancy and preparing for the fourth trimester.
- Take 3-5 deep invigorating breaths. Taking a full breath provides much needed oxygenation to the body and removes the waste of carbon dioxide. I love using the imagery of inhaling the infinite energy and support of the earth and sun. From the radiant sun to the deep and grounding energy of the earth’s core, breathe deeply imagining that you are drawing in that energy with each breath and exhale fatigue and stress.
- Keep moving! Strength training in pregnant women has been found to decrease mental and physical fatigue according to several studies. Women who exercise regularly when pregnant take fewer sick days due to illness. You don’t need to be doing aggressive strengthening to reap the benefits of strength training, so unless medically unsafe, it is something every pregnant woman can do! Checking in with a PT or pregnancy certified trainer can help you navigate the best strength exercises for your body.
- Honor your body’s messages. If you have checked off the list and you are hydrated, you have tried breathing and you have nourished your body, maybe it is time to rest. Before you jump to nosh on sugar or caffeine, take some slow 5 sec in 5 sec out breaths to activate your relaxation system and lay down for 20 minutes. It is also important to remember that it is not a badge of honor to live in pain and/or fatigue. Pregnancy does not mean you are doomed to feel pain, fatigue or other symptoms. Finding your support system and seeking help will help you to thrive during pregnancy and beyond!
Danielle Shea Tan, LDN,CNS, Nutritionist and Integrative Health Practitioner
Fatigue can be a debilitating factor in pregnancy for many women. I know how hard it can be and that’s why I tackle fatigue from a variety of angles when working with pregnant women. Three of the most common factors, that I assess and support include:
- Blood sugar balance. In pregnancy, insulin resistance increases naturally to shunt more glucose to the developing fetus. It’s because of this that maintaining a healthy blood sugar balance becomes a bit more challenging in pregnancy. When blood sugar is imbalanced, pregnant women can experience waves of fatigue throughout the day and even while sleeping. I start by ensuring women are getting a healthy protein and healthy fat at every meal and snack. Surrounding those items with a rainbow of color and energy levels can quickly bounce back and reduce risk of gestational diabetes.
- Sleep. Just one night of poor sleep can increase inflammation, raise cortisol (the stress hormone) and cause sluggishness. Getting quality sleep is at the core of every healing protocol for pregnant women and mothers. Using safe and effective herbal teas and creating a nighttime routine that promotes sleep can make all the difference between having a restless night and blissful sleep. Start with a 4oz cup of chamomile tea at least one hour before bedtime alongside a magnesium glycinate supplement to improve sleep.
- Salt intake and electrolytes. Salt is an essential nutrient and should not be limited in pregnancy. The increase in fluids in pregnancy creates an increased need for electrolytes, including salt. Plus, inadequate salt intake can worsen blood sugar and insulin resistance (think: more fatigue). Not all salts are created equally though. Kosher salt and iodized salt have been processed and no longer contain trace minerals. Choose salts that are gray or pink for more trace minerals. (Get your iodine from seaweeds). Salt your food to taste unless you have high blood pressure that is linked to salt intake (note: only 25% of the population is salt sensitive in this way).
For more guidance on pregnancy and using holistic tools and strategies to create a vibrant pregnancy that extends into motherhood. Join the private FB group run by Zoe, Darcie and Danielle.
Looking for more ways to change your habits and create a healthier life for your family? Check out my new book 52 Small Changes for the Family, available now.