In my experience, pregnancy is kind of like riding a months-long roller coaster ride of physical and emotional symptoms. First, you have the complete exhaustion, morning sickness, and general weirdness of the first trimester. Then the magic of the second trimester hits and you experience the baby kicks and bursts of energy. By the time you reach the third trimester you feel like a pregnancy goddess, and then it hits you — the third trimester energy drop. All of a sudden your precious soon-to-be baby turns into a tiny fetus vampire that just sucks the life straight out of you.
Fortunately for exhausted, fatigued, and lackluster pregnant women making their way through the third trimester, there are a few ways one can deal with that all-encompassing fatigue. For example, and according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), eating enough of the right foods are sure to give you a much-needed boost. The ACOG's pregnancy nutrition guidelines emphasize getting enough protein and complex carbohydrates, and eating frequent meals to keep your energy up. And if you work you should try to take it easy during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because you can't generally nap at work, the clinic recommends taking frequent breaks, modifying your workload, or literally putting your feet up if you're able. Another key third trimester survival tip, according to Seattle-based Swedish Hospital, is getting enough sleep, which in my experience is easier said than done.
Growing a human being is hard work, especially when you reach the third trimester and you're nearing the end of what's sure to feel like a very long pregnancy. So when you feel like you can't go on, here are few things you can do to cope:
Get More Sleep
When I reached the third trimester of my first pregnancy I thought I was in the clear. I felt awesome... until I just couldn't sleep. My aching body, anxiety, and frequent need to pee caused a serious case of pregnancy insomnia, which seemed horribly unfair. Not only was I completely exhausted during the day, but when I tried to go to bed early or sleep in late I found myself lying awake, wondering if this was what hell was like.
Fortunately, my midwife prescribed a sleep aid, and I was able to finally get enough sleep to make it through my last few weeks of pregnancy. As What to Expect notes, many sleep aids are safe for people in their third trimester, but you should always ask your provider before taking something over-the-counter, just in case.
I went from feeling so nauseated I couldn't eat in my first trimester, to wanting to eat "all of the things" in my second. When I reached my third trimester I was physically unable to eat enough food, because my giant baby was pressing up against my stomach. And not eating enough of the right foods can make pregnancy exhaustion intense, let me tell you.
The ACOG recommends eating a balanced diet, with small frequent meals throughout the day, to keep your energy up during the third trimester. You should focus on veggies, fruits, and whole grains, and protein to sustain your baby's growth (about half a pound a week), fuel your own body, and combat fatigue.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but getting exercise during pregnancy can actually help with fatigue, according to What to Expect. I definitely noticed a difference on days when I got outside for a walk or made it to yoga class versus days when I gave into the urge to lie on the couch all day under a blanket.
Get Enough Iron
As I discovered the hard way, one cause of fatigue in your third trimester is iron-deficiency anemia. As a vegetarian, I sometimes struggle to get enough iron when I'm not pregnant, and getting enough during pregnancy is an even more difficult task. According to ACOG, you need about twice the amount of iron during pregnancy to provide an adequate blood supply to your growing baby. In other words, it's super important to take your prenatal vitamins and eat iron-rich foods.
Self-care is so important during pregnancy. I learned that taking some time to meditate or practice yoga, getting a prenatal massage, and even just putting my feet up or enjoying a warm bath did wonders for my third trimester fatigue. It seems so weird that chilling out and/or taking a break can give you more energy, but it totally worked for me.
Take Breaks At Work
Working while pregnant in your third trimester can sometimes feel impossible, and as someone who tried and failed to work up until delivery three times, I can tell you that sometimes it actually is impossible. Mayo Clinic advises moms-to-be to try to achieve some balance in their work day by taking frequent breaks, modifying their work responsibilities, and/or trying to let some things go at work (and at home).
Towards the end of my pregnancy it was really hard for me to admit that I needed to adjust my work-outs, commitments, schedule, and routine to accommodate my growing belly, changing body, and energy-sucking vampire baby... but I totally did. As What to Expect advises, sometimes the best way to have more energy is to the slow the hell down and pace yourself during the third trimester.
Let Lazy Win
If you can't beat the third trimester energy suck, join it. I mean, pregnancy is hard work, so if you only have enough energy for growing a human being inside your body, taking care of you has to take priority. Take it from me, as someone who was put on bed rest at the end of all three of her pregnancies, that there are times when you should let lazy win, crawl under your blanket, and try to get some damn rest. After all, you're going to need it for childbirth, my friend.