Constant fatigue can be brutal, but it’s a common symptom during pregnancy.

You have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. You sneak out to your car on lunch to take a quick nap. You find yourself nodding off in the middle of important meetings. Sound familiar?

If so, don’t worry! Fatigue is a common pregnancy symptom, especially during the early months. Many women report feeling exhausted during the first trimester (like, “can’t even function” levels of tired). Most say that it goes away during the second trimester, only to come back in the third. Some women say they’re fatigued the entire time.

If you want to know exactly why you’re tired all the time, keep reading. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about pregnancy fatigue, why it happens, and what you can do to fight it:

What is pregnancy fatigue?

For many women, constant, overwhelming fatigue is one of the first signs of pregnancy — often before they even know they’re expecting. Why does this happen? No one really knows for sure, but hormonal fluctuations likely play a huge role in the beginning.

On top of that, your body is going through a lot of physical changes and working hard to create a new human being. It would be kind of weird if you weren’t tired!

“For many women, constant, overwhelming fatigue is one of the first signs of pregnancy — often before they even know they’re expecting.”

But, if there’s one thing that’s true about pregnancy, it’s that nothing is “normal.” Symptoms of pregnancy fatigue change throughout gestation, and can even vary from day to day.

No two women will have the same exact symptoms, so while one may be exhausted for nine months straight, another may be full of energy and raring to go.

First trimester fatigue

Early fatigue is often referred to as “natural lethargy” and it’s so common that, for women who have been pregnant before, it may prompt them to take a pregnancy test.

“Many experts attribute feelings of tiredness to hormonal changes.”

But what causes this almost instant feeling of overwhelming fatigue? Opinions vary, but many experts attribute feelings of tiredness to hormonal changes — specifically to the sudden rush of progesterone, which can make you sleepy.

In addition, your blood sugar levels and blood pressure are both lower, your moods are likely all over the place, and symptoms like frequent urination and morning sickness can make catching up on sleep tricky.

Ultimately, the first trimester is the most important part of development for the fetus and your body is doing a lot of work: Fatigue may just be nature’s way of telling you to take it easy.

Second trimester bounce back

There’s a reason the second trimester is known as the “honeymoon period” of pregnancy: All of that fatigue disappears and you’re suddenly full of vigor again.

For most women, energy levels increase during the middle three months of pregnancy and they feel more like their old selves. This is likely because the body has adjusted to the sudden influx of hormones and the need to constantly urinate decreases.

“For many women, constant, overwhelming fatigue is one of the first signs of pregnancy — often before they even know they’re expecting.”

It is important to note, however, that you still may experience fatigue and this is completely normal. Even though you’re not waking up all night to pee, your changing body shape may still cause sleep problems.

Pampers recommends lying on your side with knees bent for the most comfortable rest. Don’t forget a couple of strategically placed pillows!

The home stretch

By the time you reach your third trimester, you’re likely to experience full-on exhaustion on a daily basis. Why? For one thing, you’re carrying around a lot of extra weight (the average woman gains 25 to 35 pounds).

On top of that, sleep has become crazy uncomfortable, you likely have to urinate all the time, and you may get killer leg cramps all night long.

In a nutshell: It’s nearly impossible to get any rest. Luckily, there are things you can do to cope. Experts recommend several steps for fighting pregnancy-related fatigue — and not just during your third trimester, but throughout your nine months.

Fighting sleeplessness

It should come as no surprise that the number one thing you can do to fight fatigue is to get more rest. If sleeping at night feels impossible, try sneaking in a few catnaps throughout the day, or just meditate for a few minutes (studies show that it can improve rest).

The Sleep Judge / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other tips for catching some zzzs include adjusting your schedule and cutting back on nighttime fluids. If your current commitments have you getting up super early in the morning or going to bed late at night, try moving things around so you can have a more consistent sleep routine.

Also remember that the closer to bed you have a drink, the more likely you’ll have to get up to use the bathroom!

Final thoughts

When it comes to feeling good during pregnancy, taking caring of yourself is key. Getting sleep isn’t the only thing that can help you feel energized.

One of the best things you can do is to eat a healthy diet. Make sure you’re getting plenty of iron, protein, and calories (pregnant women need about 340 extra calories per day during the second trimester and 450 per day during the third).

Likewise, get plenty of exercise. We know, all you want to do is lay on the couch and nap, but something as simple as a 30-minute walk could up your energy levels for the whole entire day. Bonus: Regular exercise can decrease some of your discomforts, like back pain and headache.

Tell us: What have you done to successfully fight pregnancy fatique?

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101:

While most people know that women’s bodies go through some serious changes while they are growing another human, there are a lot of experiences that happen during pregnancy that you don’t know about. 

Between myths passed on by parents (or grandparents), the failings of our school system, and misconceptions in the media, we’ve been taught a lot of false things about the human body.