Coping with First Trimester Fatigue

first trimester - Boston Moms Blog

For the first couple of weeks after I learned we were expecting, I went about my days living in the clouds while crushing mommying my four children. I was giddy — thrilled — to learn that baby number five was finally on the way. And since I know for sure that this is the last time we will experience childbirth, I decided to totally embrace this pregnancy by savoring, loving, and fully experiencing every moment, from the first trimester to delivery.

All was going as planned, and then out of the blue, around six weeks along, I was knocked flat on my back by debilitating fatigue. Not just a little tired, but instead mind-numbing, physically weak, chest-crushing first-trimester exhaustion that literally stole the breath from my lungs. The fatigue has been holding me hostage for almost three weeks now.

I attempted to fight it off, work through it, find a magic elixir, and even get an earlier prenatal appointment. All attempts to remedy the crippling fatigue failed. My ideas of a beautiful and lovely pregnancy were already becoming a fleeting memory. In an attempt to reclaim my vision, I decided to adjust my expectations, recall the challenges of previous pregnancies, and embrace the reality. So I found myself succumbing and coping instead of living in the clouds! Here are five strategies that have helped make this fatigue-filled first trimester slightly (just very slightly) better.

Accepting it

I could fight the fatigue by saying things to myself like, “I’m too busy,” or “I have too many children to take care of, there is no place for fatigue in my life right now.” But that would not be fair to me or the baby I’m growing. My body is telling me that it is working hard right now and needs me to slow down, rest, and hit the pause button on some of my overly ambitious goals. I recognize that this is the sign of a healthy pregnancy, and I’m grateful that I have been blessed with that. So I’ve cleared my to-do list, emptied my social calendar, and made space for rest. Even though I have lots of kids, I can make time during the first trimester to put my feet up and relax if I let go of unnecessary expectations.

Drinking water 

Water hydrates and feels so good when I’m hot and tired. The summer sun seems to drain me even faster than before. Water is a refreshing boost. It is not the magic elixir I want it to be, but it is better than the sugary drinks that zap me even more or the carbonated seltzers that cause uncomfortable gas buildup. So I drink lots of water.

Napping regularly

Camp time for the kids has become nap time for mommy. My ideas of accomplishing personal goals have been shelved for now. Instead, I sleep. If I’m home with the big kids, I put a movie on. They think this is great, because their current screen time has increased significantly! When my husband is around, I tell him I need to nap, and while it is most often inconvenient, he gets it and takes on the parenting duties while I sleep. And you know, while I sleep, everything doesn’t happen as it does when I’m fully present. The kids run around, raid the pantry, fill their water cups on their own and leave a trail of water. They draw on the walls and make a complete mess of the house. But I don’t care. Right now I am taking care of my body, and they are learning independence.

Communicating my need for help and support

I finally had to crush my husband’s idea that I was supermom. I had him believing I could handle all four kids, plus lunches, dinners, activities, and household duties while pregnant. But once I accepted reality, I had to bring him into the light as well. I told him I needed help during the rough first trimester. I couldn’t do it all like I could just a few weeks ago. My superpowers had been transferred to the growing baby, and I was reduced to cat-like status. Please do more, rub my feet, and let me sleep curled up in a ball. He has responded wonderfully.

Showing up when the energy shows up

At first, I did nothing with my remaining energy out of fear of losing it. But the fatigue would still return, and I would feel even worse. So now, when I feel clear-headed and alive, I get after life. I hang out with my children, do some writing, catch up on cleaning or laundry, read a book, run some errands, pay some bills, take the kids on an outing, go for a walk, or take a yoga class. I don’t overdo it, but I get moving. At some point, the energy will return. I know — from four previous pregnancies — that I will nest. I look forward to the incredible burst of energy that will eventually take over and allow me to accomplish some of the organization goals I have currently tabled!

I know this will be the wonderful pregnancy I want it to be; it just might come with a few bumps in the road. So while first-trimester fatigue can be disheartening at a time when I want to feel happy and over the moon, it has become an opportunity to slow down, simplify, and focus on the most important and biggest task of the current moment. 

Rachel was born and raised in central Pennsylvania. She moved to the Boston area twice. The second time she stayed for good setting up residence in Scituate. For ten years, she taught middle schoolers the fascinating history of the ancient and medieval worlds. She has an MA in Special Education and is a certified Reading Specialist as well as licensed History and ESL teacher. Even though she loved teaching she finally let go of the working mom life after having baby number four. She and her husband currently have five young children ages 8, 5, 4, 2, & 8 months. She is a homeschooling mom and freelance content writer at @rachelrichcontentwriter and