Barely able to drag yourself off the sofa even if Ryan Gosling came to the door? Feeling like your get-up-and-go has got-up-and-gone has to be one of the most common complaints pregnant women have. And it’s not just a lack of zzzs thanks to your baby bump that’s to blame. ‘Your body’s dealing with the incredible physical challenges of pregnancy,’ says GP Dr Carol Cooper. ‘It’s been drained of nutritional reserves, deprived of rest and pushed to its limits.’ Try our energy-boosting advice and you’ll soon feel ready for anything (yes, that includes you, Mr Gosling…)
1. Get a new (non-caffeine) fix
If you usually only get going thanks to an espresso IV, you may struggle with the pregnancy-safe caffeine limit of 200mg a day (that’s two mugs of instant coffee). The good news is, researchers at the University of Michigan say DIY acupressure boosts alertness as effectively. Try squeezing the fleshy pad between your thumb and first finger, massaging the base of your skull or rubbing the front of your shins.
2. Learn to say no
In between work, shopping trips and antenatal classes, you’ll need to schedule in some R&R. Before saying yes to something, ask, ‘Can I do this?’ and ‘Do I want to?’ If the answer isn’t yes to both, don’t. ‘There’s no job as emotionally and physically taxing as being pregnant, so rest and get all the help you can,’ advises Karen Thomas, a senior midwife practitioner. ‘Ask others to pick up the slack (and the groceries), so you don’t have to.’
3.Take a breath
Running on adrenaline is great at the time, but you will crash into a wall soon enough. If you want to stay awake for <Eastenders>, try some deep breathing. Put the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale through your mouth, making a ‘wheesh’ sound. Then inhale through your nose for a count of four, hold your breathe for seven, and exhale through your mouth for eight. Sit up straight, too. ‘Your lungs work harder when you’re pregnant and, if you slouch, you’ll reduce their capacity further and take in less oxygen, which diminishes energy,’ says Alexander technique teacher Noel Kingsley.
4. Eat for energy
We all recognise that post-lunch dip, but researchers have put an exact time on it – beware 2.16pm. Trying to digest a big lunch before this time can make it worse, so eat half your lunch before, and the rest mid-afternoon to sustain your energy levels. ‘Grazing is fine if you reach for the healthy stuff – think houmous, yoghurt, fruit, chicken and bread,’ says Dr Rana Conway, author of What To Eat When You’re Pregnant. ‘Also stock up on healthy food that’s easy to prepare, such as baking potatoes, tins of tuna, baked beans and veg.’
5. Stay hydrated
Getting to the point where you’re just starting to feel thirsty can double your feeling of fatigue. ‘Dehydration makes you listless, dizzy and nauseous, so it’s vital to stay hydrated during pregnancy,’ says Carol. Water is ideal, but diluted squashes, fruit juice, herbal tea and coconut water, which relieves exhaustion by replenishing the natural salts lost by the body, are good, too.
6. Up your iron
The major warning signs you’re iron deficient are tiredness, dizziness and shortness of breath. ‘Iron is one of the most essential nutrients for the growth of your baby,’ says Carol. ‘You can also become deficient as a result of bleeding during or after delivery.’ Your GP will check your levels, but also ensure you eat an iron-rich diet. ‘Good sources are meat and fish,’ says Rana. ‘Vitamin C boosts it, too, so finish your meal with a glass of orange juice.’