Falling asleep on the sofa at 7pm? Tomorrow will be more energetic – trust us
Once you find out you’re pregnant, you quickly start looking forward to the famous glow, boundless energy and people asking about your bump.
But the reality of pregnancy means there’ll be quite a few days when you’re exhausted, feel like a lump and just can’t face another ‘When are you due?’ question. Luckily, it’s easy to give yourself a boost.
ENERGISE YOUR MORNING
Having a stretch first thing is the best thing you can do. ‘It mobilises the whole body, boosting blood flow and oxygen to your brain,’ says personal trainer Alison Merry, founder of Blooming Fit.
And the best thing is that the perfect time to do it is before you even get out of bed – you’re relaxed, warm and your muscles are pliable.
Being savvy about your breakfast will help, too. ‘Carbs give you energy but eating them with protein slows the release rate, so you feel fuller and more energised for longer,’ says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible For Women. Try wholemeal toast with eggs and tomato, or a nut butter.
PICK UP YOUR AFTERNOON
How you manage your lunch break has a direct effect on how you feel for the rest of the afternoon. Leave your desk – a brisk walk or antenatal exercise class will be more revitalising than checking Facebook.
When it comes to choosing your lunch, a couple of clever choices will really pay off.
‘Help prevent that all-too familiar afternoon energy slump by eating a healthy lunch of protein with unrefined carbohydrates, such as brown rice with vegetables and oily fish, or a jacket potato with beans and salad,’ says Marilyn. This will keep you fuller and blood-sugar levels balanced for longer.
And don’t underestimate the rejuvenating effects of good hydration in beating fatigue – keep a two-litre bottle of water on your desk and sip throughout the day.
Feeling stressed? Dab the De-stress Rollerball onto your pulse points for instant calm. It contains orange, rose and patchouli oils, safe from the second trimester onwards
RELAX INTO THE EVENING
Swimming is a great way to unwind. ‘Public pools are usually quiet in the evenings, so go for a swim one or two nights a week,’ says Alison. ‘Gentle exercise helps your body release stress hormones, so it’s calming before bed.’
There’s nothing wrong with watching TV if it helps you relax, but make it work a bit harder for you. ‘Instead of slouching on the sofa, sit on an inflatable fitness ball, which is better for your pelvis and lower back,’ says Alison.
Add some gentle pelvic rocks, tilts and leg lifts during the ad breaks and you’re doing a mini workout, too, strengthening your core for late pregnancy and labour.
Meal-wise, go for a lighter option than you had for lunch, like soup or salad.
‘This will help stop indigestion or heartburn keeping you awake,’ says Marilyn. ‘If hunger wakes you at night, have a small, carb-based snack shortly before bed to raise your blood sugar. A small bowl of cereal with milk is perfect.’
End your day with a relaxing bath and some yoga-style stretches.
Vitamins produced by the sun’s rays (specifically vitamin D) can helpto support your immune system in pregnancy. ‘Make the most of the daylight for at least 20 minutes every day – go for a walk or sit on a park bench in your lunch break,’ says midwife and pregnancy wellbeing expert Zita West. And, while we are the first to admit the UK isn’t exactly blessed in the sunshine department, you can still get vitamin benefits on a cloudy day – you just need to be outside for longer.
DIY WATER THERAPY
Not only does this top treatment rev up your energy, it’s also brilliant for depuffing those newly-developed cankles. Just get a bowl of warm water and a bowl of cold water. Put your feet in the warm water for a minute, then switch to the cold. Repeat three times.
Here’s an easy way to get yourself going first thing. Before you turn on the shower, go to work with a body brush. Your skin may be extra-sensitive, so choose one with soft bristles – we recommend the Round Body Brush (£8, thebodyshop.com). Start by rubbing your feet (if you can still reach them!), then gently move upwards towards your heart to boost your circulation. The increased blood flow will seriously liven you up.
HAVE A CUPPA
Although a daily cup of coffee is fine during pregnancy, if you’re more of a triple-shot macchiato girl, you may miss your usual hit. Try herbal teas, instead. Peppermint will refresh you and make you feel much more alert. For a long-term boost, try nettle or fennel. These increase the amount of iron you absorb from food.
A major cause of pregnancy fatigue is poor sleep – you can blame all that wriggling around trying to get comfy with a ginormous bump, then waddling to the loo every half an hour. But trials in Brazil have found acupuncture can cut insomnia symptoms by up to 50% in mums-to-be. ‘In addition, the needles trigger the release of hormones that help reduce the effects of energy-draining stress,’ says Denise. Find a prenatal practitioner at acupuncture.org.uk.
COLOUR YOURSELF HAPPY
We know you can’t redecorate your drab office, but it can put you on a serious downer. Research has shown dark colours have a negative effect on your psyche. So try to incorporate some mood-boosting colours into your wardrobe, instead. Red is good for strength and energy, while green can help you feel calm and serene.
MAINTAIN BLOOD-SUGAR LEVELS
‘In the first trimester, most women crave carbs and go off protein,’ says nutritionist Yvonne Bishop-Weston. ‘But eating carbs without protein speeds up your digestion and causes highs in your blood sugar. This can lead to night-time sugar lows and the need to eat.’ But how do you combat those 3am toast urges? ‘In early pregnancy, eat every four hours. If you’ve got morning sickness or are in late pregnancy, every three. And go for slow-digesting foods, such as wholegrain carbs with protein and veg,’ says Yvonne.