First Trimester Fatigue & Nausea
Ah, the first trimester of pregnancy, also known as the vast land of exhaustion, sickness, and vomiting. Amiright?
These icky symptoms typically begin around 6 weeks of pregnancy as your body's hormone levels rapidly change. These early signs of pregnancy may vary in severity and duration from woman to woman, so your experience may be completely different than your bestie's experience. Some may feel tired and less nauseous, or, for some women (we feel for you), a queasy stomach and vomiting hit hard. Unfortunately, these symptoms can last into the second trimester or third trimester, but that's not super common.
Remember, whether your pregnancy symptoms are subtle or severe, it is temporary! Before you know it, the wonderful second trimester will be upon you, and discomfort in the first trimester is soon forgotten.
Is it common to experience first trimester nausea & fatigue?
Yes, it is very common for women to experience extreme fatigue and excessive tiredness during the first trimester. But this is not like the mid-afternoon fatigue you may experience during the workday. This type of sleepiness is a level of fatigue that makes you question if you'll ever have the energy to tie your own shoelaces again.
But fear not, my sleep-deprived mommas, for this exhaustion is a telltale sign that your body is hard at work growing a tiny human being. The body undergoes numerous hormonal and physiological changes during this time, causing a significant drop in energy levels. So, totally normal and expected! A fair warning, fatigue often returns in the third trimester when your baby and belly have grown, but it may not lead to extreme tiredness like in the first weeks of pregnancy.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy is like a bizarre game of Russian roulette, where you never know when the morning sickness will strike. It may hit after a nice meal or after smelling something random that hits the olfactory glands in the worst way.
The exact cause of morning sickness is unknown, but it is believed to be related to hormonal changes in the body. For example, the hCG hormone rises sharply in the first trimester and is believed to be a culprit of morning sickness.Hormone changes play a big role in nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and can be quite a surprise to first-time mothers when daytime tiredness is paired with morning sickness.
While morning sickness is generally not harmful to the mother or baby, it can be uncomfortable and interfere with daily activities. In some cases, severe and prolonged vomiting can lead to dehydration and weight loss, requiring medical intervention.
Relief from Tiredness in Early Pregnancy
Extreme fatigue in pregnancy is a signal from your body to slow down and rest. The hormone progesterone rises sharply in the first few weeks, making you feel tired. You may find it's easy to feel guilty about all those extra naps and increased hours of sleep at night (many women find they need nearly double the hours of sleep when pregnant). Guilt can be heavy, especially for women who are normally go-getters with lots of energy. Fret not! Rest is good for you and your developing baby. If you usually drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks to stay energized, ease up, as caffeine really isn't good for your developing baby (don't freak out—limited amounts are okay). Here are some things that may provide relief from extreme fatigue of the first trimester:
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep at night and short naps throughout the day as needed.
Cancel prolonged social commitments during these first weeks.
Get up and walk around or enjoy prenatal exercise.
Drink enough fluids during the day.
Focus on eating well-balanced meals with whole foods.
Take prenatal vitamins and minerals.
Set realistic expectations. You may not be able to do everything like you're used to.
Low iron levels also play a big role in making you feel tired. If you're dealing with anemia paired with trouble sleeping deeply, early pregnancy can be a big drain on your energy and an especially hard transition. Don't feel guilty about not being able to do all the things during this time. Fatigue during pregnancy is common.
Relief from Sickness in Early Pregnancy
Intense sickness is quite a surprise to some moms-to-be and can make it difficult for them to get to an extra job or social commitments. If you're a coffee drinker, you may be surprised to find that you have suddenly lost your urge to drink coffee. Going to bed earlier and sleeping enough hours at night is one way to relieve sickness. Here are some things you can try that may help:
Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day so your stomach isn't completely empty.
Try eating a protein snack before bed and a quick carb right when you wake up. Many moms swear by this hack!
Avoid foods and smells that trigger nausea.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Enjoy ginger candies, teas, or supplements.
Wear acupuncture wristbands.
Take Vitamin B6 and Unisom (under your healthcare provider's guidance).
Of course, pharmacological options may also help with nausea, which can be discussed with a healthcare provider if you're not experiencing relief and severe morning sickness affects daily life. If you opt-in for medication, give it time to adjust, and relief will hopefully be coming!
When should I see my doctor?
It's common to worry if it seems like all you're doing these first weeks is hugging the toilet bowl for dear life. If you can't hold anything down, scheduling an appointment with your healthcare provider might be a good idea.
If you're just feeling a little queasy and tired, this is normal and usually there's not much you can do. Remember, being pregnant means you'll have to adjust to the incredible changes happening inside your body, plus weird symptoms. However, if you notice alarming signs like severe abdominal pain or high fever—it's definitely time to pick up that phone. Trust your gut (pun intended), mama, and don't hesitate to seek professional help when in doubt.