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  1. Blog
  2. Pregnancy

How to Beat Pregnancy Exhaustion When You Do Paid Work, Too

Must. Keep. Eyes. Open.

woman dealing with pregnancy exhaustion
Photo courtesy of Kinga Cichewicz

We've all experienced fatigue, but when you're pregnant, being tired is more than just a feeling—it is, for many, a constant state of exhaustion. From sleep troubles to morning sickness to body aches and pains, so many things pregnant women experience can be draining, physically and mentally.

And if you do paid work too, it can feel like you’re never going to have energy again (you will). But there are ways you can keep pregnancy exhaustion at bay.

Eat well

We women give so much to our children, even before they’re born—including our nutrients and the very oxygen in our blood. You'll need to eat well during pregnancy, and here are two key ways to make it work for your energy levels in particular.

Learn to love iron

Pregnant women need double the amount of iron that non-pregnant women need. If you don't get enough iron, you could develop iron-deficiency anemia, which can leave you feeling e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d.

The Mayo Clinic recommends 27 milligrams per day, which you can get from meat (lean roast beef and chicken) iron-fortified oatmeal, spinach, and kidney beans.

Eat regular meals

Making sure you’re eating regular nutritious meals and snacking throughout the day will help you maintain  your energy by keeping your blood sugar levels up and your fuel reserves full.

And don't skip meals

Your body needs calories and nutrients more than ever, and calories = energy, so don’t skip meals and keep plenty of snacks at your desk to fuel up as you go about your workday.

Read more: We Asked: What Was Your Favorite Desk Snack During Pregnancy?

Make exercise a part of your pregnancy

When you’re this exhausted, exercising can be the last thing you want to do, but daily exercise will help you sleep better at night, which means more energy during the day. Exercise also releases endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals your brain needs to feel invigorated and refreshed.

The Mayo Clinic recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day for pregnant women. But before you embark on a new exercise routine, talk to your doctor about what is safe for you—for example, women with severe anemia are not advised to exercise during pregnancy.

If you are cleared to move, try gentle exercises, like:

  • Yoga

  • Walking

  • Prenatal fitness classes

  • Light aerobics

  • Swimming

  • Stationary cycling

When you work a full-time job, getting in exercise can be easier said than done, so here are a few ways you can get moving during your workday.

  • Make it a walking meeting . It’s just as easy (and honestly, more enjoyable) to have a two-person meeting on a walk as it is to have one in a boring conference room.

  • Eat lunch at your desk (because you’re not skipping meals, right?!) and use your lunch break to take a walk and listen to a great podcast or guided meditation.

  • Park a little farther away from the building. Easy peasy.

  • Walk during your phone calls and take advantage of that fresh air.

Read more: How to Work More Steps into Your Workday

Be intentional about your sleep

You need sleep when you’re pregnant, but it’s totally normal to lose sleep during this time. But you need good rest if you’re going to bust that exhaustion, so here are a few ways you can be a great defender of your slumber.

  • Avoid looking at your phone before bed . That includes email for work, that includes leisure scrolling. The blue light emitted by your phone will make it hard for you to fall asleep, so ditch the phone in favor of calming music, a good book , or meditation.

  • Take advantage of free time you may have and take a nap. Even a 15–20 minute nap can help you feel refreshed.

  • Enlist the help of your partner or another family member or close friend so you can use that time for rest.

Tips for managing pregnancy exhaustion in the workplace

So you know you should be eating regular meals and getting some exercise, but what else can you do at work to manage, or even prevent, fatigue?

  • Wear comfortable work shoes , especially if your job has you on your feet all day.

  • Take regular breaks . If you sit at a desk, get up and walk around every 45 minutes to an hour. If you work on your feet, take breaks to sit down as often.

  • If you work on your feet , ask your supervisor if you can sit for all, or at least some, of your tasks.

  • Set boundaries at work . Set your office hours and don’t work outside of them. Period. Your personal time belongs to you.

  • Talk to your boss about flexing your schedule or working remotely. Having flextime at your job can help you shift your schedule so that you can work when you have energy and sleep when you don’t.

Read more: How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel During Your Pregnancy

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