Overcoming Exhaustion in the 1st Trimester of Pregnancy

If you’ve yet to be pregnant, it is difficult to fully wrap your mind around what its like. Your body is going through a wide range of internal and external changes in preparation for nurturing an additional life.

With these various changes, a lot of symptoms begin to appear.

One common symptom in the 1st trimester is extreme exhaustion.

This is not the same thing as just feeling tired, but rather an all-consuming, no-escape type of fatigue.

What causes 1st trimester exhaustion? 

During the first trimester, your body is literally creating an additional life-support system, heavily-taxing your energy levels.

While the biggest building process involves making the placenta, the following life changes can also contribute to your exhaustion:

Yes – the first trimester of pregnancy is often the most exhausting. However, there are some things you can do!

Apply these seven tips to effectively manage fatigue and combat first trimester of pregnancy exhaustion:

  1. Schedule more time to sleep

Simply giving yourself more time to sleep can help keep you energized throughout the day.

Listen to your body. Take a power nap if you need to, but try to limit the length to one hour, at most. Napping for too long may leave you feeling more sluggish.

Teresa Ann Hoffman, M.D. is an OB-GYN at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Teresa suggests napping between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to avoid having problems falling asleep at night.

Take advantage of your burst of energy and, if possible, take a power nap when you are feeling sluggish. It’s all about balance.

Not convinced? Check out WebMD’s article on the Secrets of Power Naps.

  1. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water should always be a priority. However, dehydration during early pregnancy will lead to increased fatigue. Avoid the heat if possible as this can increase the chances of becoming dehydrated.

According to The Institute of Medicine, a pregnant woman residing in a temperate climate should aim to consume about 100 ounces of water over the course of a day (approx. eight 12oz glasses).

Spread out your intake of water, making sure to not drink too much in the few hours before bed.

Trying to get it out of the way by drinking large amounts of water at one time will leave you feeling overly full. Instead, keep a water container with you and take sips throughout the day.

  1. Don’t resist help

Did someone offer their help but you declined? Why? Take advantage of this precious opportunity to squeeze in a nap while your significant other, family, or friends do housework, run errands, or whatever lifesaving task they have offered to take on for you.

You don’t have to be super woman.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may be shocked at how many people will jump up to help you when asked.

  1. Stay Active

Taking daily naps may seem far more appealing than exercise, but staying active will help you to feel better. The increased oxygen intake and circulation keep you from feeling fatigued.

However, avoid adding a late-night gym regiment to your to-do list. This can lead to insomnia. The earlier you can exercise during the day, the better.

If you were active prior to becoming pregnant, it’s okay to scale down your duration and intensity. Don’t worry about pushing yourself to the absolute limit. You want to end your activity feeling energized, not more exhausted.

If you weren’t as active as you’d have liked prior to pregnancy and don’t know where to start, check out these great pregnancy approved workouts!

  1. Eat right

Giving your body proper nutrition should always be a priority, but it is even that much more important when you are pregnant.

As long as you are a healthy weight during the first trimester there isn’t a need to change your calorie count. Instead, focus on rich foods that will provide high sources of energy, such as protein and complex carbohydrates.

Also, make sure you are taking a prenatal vitamin, while avoiding processed foods. Foods with little nutritional value can leave you feeling sluggish.

Eat often, 6 mini meals a day, to keep your energy levels high. Think of it like an opportunity to snack all day; win-win!

A study by Louisiana State University School of Medicine showed that female athletes with chronic energy deficit could cause musculoskeletal and reproductive dysfunction. So make sure that you ingest enough calories so that you’re not running on a deficit.

Many of us are used to reaching for coffee when needing an energy boost. However, first trimester exhaustion won’t necessarily be helped by a cup-of-joe. If you choose to consume caffeine during your pregnancy, but are having issues sleeping at night, limit your caffeine intake to the morning.

Sugar and caffeine may seem like a quick fix in terms of raising blood sugar levels, but could lead to a big energy crash later on.

We understand that for some, a morning cup of coffee is non-negotiable, so be aware of the effects it may have on your body as well as your developing baby.

If you are seriously addicted and need some options for healthy and safe alternatives, check out this article by Care2.

  1. Manage your stress

Sometimes, stress can be good.

Seriously. It helps to motivate and get us chasing dreams. It can even boost your immune system and sharpen your focus, but only to a point.

Too much of anything is never good. Significant stress can cause lasting damage on your body and increase your feelings of exhaustion.

The Journal of Midwifery published a study about pregnant women who were experiencing exhaustion. They concluded that fatigue and psychological variables (such as depression, anger, anxiety, and confusion) are connected.

Interestingly however, fatigue was not connected to environmental variables, such as number of hours at work or the number of children at home. The final data suggests that this particular exhaustion cannot be resolved with rest, but rather with relieving your stress levels.

Finding your go to stress-relieving activity is a lifesaver. This applies well beyond the duration of your pregnancy.

If you’re still searching for your activity, try any of the following:

  • Progressive relaxation
  • Take a Yoga class
  • Meditate
  • Breathe deeply, using your abdominal muscles
  • Aromatherapy
  • Listen to music
  • Make yourself a cup of tea
  • Enjoy some light exercise
  • Prayer or participation in a spiritual/religious community
  • Get a massage
  • Keep a journal
  • Get lost in a good book


  1. Saltines are a pregnant girl’s best friend

As you may well know by now, morning sickness could be to blame if you’re experiencing first trimester exhaustion. All that time spent feeling nauseous and in front of the toilet can take a serious toll on your energy levels.

If you are suffering through morning sickness at all hours of the night, keep saltines on your nightstand. Saltines are a perfect snack to suppress midnight queasiness.

When you feel the nausea coming on, take a few nibbles of a saltine to try and calm your stomach, allowing you to hopefully get a solid night of sleep.


If you are experiencing first trimester exhaustion, know that you are not alone.

It can seem ridiculous at times, when you feel like nothing has changed, but it has. You are growing a human life in your body (!) and that takes more energy than you can imagine.

You can find more great pregnancy tips and information on your upcoming adventure on our website. If you have any other tricks for expecting mothers to help combat first trimester exhaustion, share with us below or post on our Facebook page! We always love hearing what works for our readers!

Keep our tips in mind and just keep pushing on. If you have any concerns, make sure that you discuss them with your doctor.