A Natural Approach to Fatigue During Pregnancy

May 22, 2017 | Dr. Julie Durnan, Naturopathic Doctor


Whether this is your first child or your fourth, all women experience fatigue at some point during pregnancy.

So yes, it’s completely normal. And here’s why:

You are busy working at your job. You are busy running a household. You are busy caring for a toddler or other children. You are busy making time for you and your partner. Most of all, you are busy being pregnant.

It takes an incredible amount of energy to be pregnant. Remember: you are making a human being. 

Your body is developing all of your baby’s parts, then your blood volume doubles, your nutrient demands increase, and you are emotionally dealing with the changes that pregnancy brings.

So with all this important work to do, how can you support your body to feel your very best? Here are my 6 steps to reduce fatigue during pregnancy:

1) Get to sleep.

  • Getting enough sleep right now is one of the most important things you can do for you and baby. Yes, you need to nap.  And that’s okay.  Your immune system, digestive function, blood flow, stress level, and mood can all be greatly affected by a lack of sleep.

2) Reduce stress.

  • Stress or the perception of stress can affect your energy levels.  While it’s unrealistic to avoid stress altogether while pregnant, you can take steps to minimize your response to stress. Take a relaxing bath, enjoy a nap, spend time with supportive friends, and my favourite – talk it out. Women reduce stress best by connecting with others and through telling their stories.

3) Balance your nutrition.

  • Nutritional imbalances can affect energy quite quickly.  A prenatal multivitamin is essential for all moms-to-be but there may be additional nutrients that you need in a higher dose.  Anaemia in pregnancy is extremely common.  If you are experiencing weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, heart palpitations, if you appear pale, you may be iron deficient.  When your body doesn’t have enough iron, you aren’t able to make enough hemoglobin and transport oxygen to your tissues and brain.  And then symptoms result.  Do have your iron levels checked including a value for ferritin, your iron storage protein.  This is the number one diagnostic measure of your iron stores.  Women often feel best when their values are between 70 and 100 umol/l.

4) Balance your blood sugar.

  • Blood sugar changes can also make you feel tired.  Make sure you are eating every 2 to 3 hours. Try to eat some protein, fat, and fibre with each meal to keep sugars level.  A few food suggestions are almond butter and apple, chia or hemp seeds on yoghurt, and hummus and a grainy cracker. Get creative and combine grains, legumes, veggies, and oils to feel full, satisfied, and well-fuelled.

5) Herbal medicine has a lot to offer.

  • Adaptogenic herbs, such as Withania, Eleuthrococcus, and Licorice are helpful tonics that can be used in the second trimester to give support to the adrenal glands.  In the first trimester, you might try bathing with certain invigorating herbs to stimulate the body and mind.  Essential oils of certain botanicals can be especially refreshing such as Rosemary, Lemon, Orange, or Peppermint.

6) Listen to your body.

  • If you need a rest, please take it.  If you feel unable to take a break, be sure to ask for help.  Whether it be your partner, friend, parent, or neighbour, there are always people available to help lighten your load.  This isn’t a time to take on new projects, jobs, or to push through barriers.  Take it easy and remember to listen to your body.

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