ASK CHILDBEARING: Is it normal to be so tired?

Question: I am 23 weeks pregnant and I am so tired! Is it normal to be so tired? Should I let myself rest as much as I want?

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Pregnancy can be hard work, and can be very tiring indeed. Sometimes you feel like you need to sit down and rest after walking a single block.

There are several factors contributing to your fatigue. Perhaps the most obvious is that you are carrying more weight: the baby, the amniotic fluid, the placenta, extra fat. It all adds up to weighing you down so that every step feels heavy.

Another big factor is your increased blood volume. You have approximately 50% more blood in your body when you are pregnant, which forces your circulation system to work that much harder. No wonder pregnant women feel out of breath more easily! As well, you have a higher need for iron, which can also cause fatigue.

Finally, the hormonal changes in your body cannot be underestimated: Pregnancy hormones can make you feel so sleepy that it is hard to get through the day without dozing off. Remember, your body is growing a whole new human being—from scratch!—which is a huge job, and a very valid reason to feel tired. So go ahead and indulge yourself. Take naps if you can, and treat yourself to some prenatal massage sessions or yoga classes, or whatever you find relaxing.

On the other hand, as much as you need rest, the pregnant body needs exercise too. Make sure to engage in some form of brisk exercise every day (walking, swimming, cycling—whatever you prefer). This will actually increase your energy levels, and help you get better sleep at night. Activity is important, and so is rest.

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