If you’re an expectant mum who feels more knackered than Rihanna after an all-nighter, here are some clever but oh-so simple ways to get your pre-preggers oomph back. You can thank us later
Vitamins produced by the sun’s rays (specifically vitamin D) can help to 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.
Bite The Biscuit
Studies have linked levels of fatigue with the severity of your morning sickness, and there’s a simple solution that could work. ‘Keep a couple of ginger biscuits by your bed. That way, if you wake up feeling too sick to move, you can settle your stomach slowly,’ says nutritionist Vicki Edgson.
Have A Massage
‘This can help ease back pain, relieve tension, remove any build-up of lactic acid that can impair muscular function and alleviate emotional stress,’ says Zita. But it doesn’t come cheap so, for an affordable option, ask your partner to do it. He doesn’t have to be an expert, just 20 minutes of gently rubbing your shoulders and neck should help you relax and ease any tension.
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.
‘Exercise fights tiredness in so many ways,’ says personal trainer Jane Williams. Er, really? ‘It improves posture, raises circulation and increases the amount of oxygen reaching your brain,’ she says. Studies show that the perfect (and safest) energy exercise prescription during pregnancy is to work out at an effort level that feels around six out of 10. For example, a fit person in their first trimester might reach six out of 10 by jogging, someone less fit might get there with a steady walk. Work out for no more than 30 minutes at a time anddrink lots of water, so you don’t get dehydrated.
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.