During the nine months that a mother carries her child, her body undergoes a lot of changes. When we mean a lot, we’re referring to not only physical changes, but hormonal, emotional, and mental as well. While most pregnant women will experience similar symptoms, fatigue and tiredness are among the common. Playing house to a growing baby (or maybe multiple) for nine months takes a toll on the body and you’re sure to feel it where your energy levels are concerned. But don’t panic — we have some tips to help keep your energy levels up during this tough, yet incredibly exciting, nine-month journey.
1. Get up and get outside
Starting your morning with a walk is a great way to get the body mobile and ready for the day. The bright light early in the morning signals your body to release cortisol and suppress melatonin production, which is what wakes you up. Sunlight has also been shown to stimulate the release of serotonin, the hormone that regulates mood, and also plays an important role in the production of melatonin.
Sun is also a great way to get in adequate amounts of vitamin D, which plays a critical role in calcium absorption and maintenance of bones, but also cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and control of inflammation.
2. Get prepared for sleep
We all know that sleep is essential for the body, but many of us — especially when pregnant — don’t get the ‘restful’ sleep we need. Besides having a tiny human inside us that can keep us awake at night, there are also other factors that play into sleep. Thus, establishing a sleep routine it critical to getting the body ready. Here are a few ways to help get yourself ready for bed:
1. Turn your mobile devices onto flight mode to avoid nightly disruptions
2. Avoid blue light one-hour before bed as it disrupts melatonin production — This comes from anything with a screen
3. Sleep in complete darkness — Use a sleep mask or blackout curtains
4. Meditation and breathing — Relaxes the body and prevents overstimulation
5. Bedroom temperature — A slightly cooler room has been shown to improve sleep quality
6. Exercise regularly
Exercise during pregnancy can be challenging, especially as you close in on your due date, but just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Modification and caution will be necessary to adapt to your changing body and abilities.
Exercise not only keeps your body in shape during a period of many changes, but it also helps to trigger the release of many hormones. Studies have shown that exercise increases serum concentrations of endogenous opioids, namely beta-endorphin. This increase is linked to a number of psychological and physiological changes such as mood state changes, altered pain perception, the release of a specific hormones (growth hormone, ACTH, prolactin, catecholamines, and cortisol), as well as the ‘exercise-induced euphoria’ we often feel when doing activity. It’s also suggested that fatigue perception is modulated by an increase of endogenous opioids released during exercise.
So not only does exercise increase energy and mood, but regular activity also helps to keep the body limber and reduce the likelihood of experiencing hip and back pain — two things that are common during pregnancy.
4. Watch your caffeine consumption
Caffeine is one of the biggest killers of sleep. If drank too late in the day, you’re awake the entire night tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. Caffeine works on the same pathway as adenosine, the molecule responsible for inducing drowsiness. However, when caffeine is present, it takes the place of adenosine in receptor sites and elicits the opposite response, causing us to become more alert. To avoid these effects, limit caffeine consumption during the day and avoid consuming it after 2pm to remove any stimuli that may disrupt sleep patterns. Alternatively, substitute decaf or no-caf coffee if you love the taste but don’t want any of the effects.
5. Enjoy a nap
Enjoying a nap is one of the best ways to overcome those feelings of tiredness and give your body the energy bump it just might need. Studies have tested a wide variety of nap durations and found that 10-20 minutes seems to be ideal. This length doesn’t let you reach a deep sleep state and allows you to stay in the lighter stages of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, leaving you bright and alert upon rising.
6. Eat healthy
Not only is eating healthy important for you, but it’s critical for the health of your baby. Ensure you’re eating quality sources of protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and lots of vegetables to obtain a full spectrum of nutrients.
It’s also important that you’re consuming enough calories to support growth of your baby and your energy levels. Adding in nutrient dense foods like salmon, sardines, kale, seaweed, garlic, organ meats, eggs, and dark chocolate provide a bang for your buck in terms of vitamins and minerals, which translates directly into energy for your body.
We know that pregnancy can be hard, but putting these six tips into practice will help you to wake up feeling rested and keep your energy levels high throughout an incredibly challenging nine months of your life! But remember, these six tips don’t just apply during your pregnancy, but will be useful once your little one arrives.