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Getting through the Exhaustion of Your First Trimester

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Until you have achieved pregnancy, it is difficult to fully understand what your body will feel like or what you should expect. Many of your friends may have shared their own personal stories, but until you experience pregnancy first hand, it is hard to really know.

Truth is, each woman is unique when it comes to the symptoms she feels, but almost every woman who has experienced pregnancy has complained about extreme exhaustion. The exhaustion isn't simply feeling tired. No, it is all-consuming. It is the kind of exhaustion you might expect if you were on the verge of getting the flu, were hung over and hadn't slept in five days, all at once. It is debilitating.

Pregnancy, however, is a joyous time. And just because you feel the exhaustion doesn't mean it should overtake your life. If you are in your first trimester and the exhaustion feels all too consuming, try some of these coping strategies:

1. Maximize the Good Hours: Exhaustion hits hard, but not usually all day long. Some people feel more exhausted during the day, while others feel it at night. Take advantage of the hours when you do have energy, and put them to good use. These are the hours to exercise, do work and be social.

2. Lengthen Your Sleep Schedule: For some women, getting ten or eleven hours of shuteye, instead of seven or eight, is enough to make the daytime hours much more productive. Adjust your schedule so that you can get the rest your body and fetus need.

3. Take a Nap: Many find naps to be effective in warding off major fatigue. If you can sneak in a power nap, even just ten to twenty minutes, it might help you feel refreshed and give you a spurt of energy. Try not to sleep too much longer than twenty minutes, however, as you could end up feeling worse when you wake up.

4. Drink Up: Make sure you are staying hydrated. Dehydration can lead to increased fatigue. A good rule of thumb is to drink your weight divided by two in ounces, plus an additional eight ounces. So if you are 130 pounds, you should drink 65 ounces + 8 ounces for a total of 73 ounces of water.

5. Get Help: Now is the time to be self-indulgent. Get help when and where you need it. For instance, have a housekeeper, friend or family member come in and help with the housework. Get take-out or have your husband cook dinner. Ask your boss for extra assistance at work or delegate when you can.

6. Stay Active: Although sleeping on the couch seems like a much more appealing activity than going to the gym or for a walk outside, staying active can actually make you feel better. It facilitates circulation, increases oxygen intake, and can ward off fatigue in the middle of the day.

7. Eat Right: Now more than ever, your body needs proper nutrients for you and your growing fetus. Make sure you are eating enough. You actually need about 300 calories more per day when you are pregnant. But make sure you are eating nutritious foods that will provide you with good sources of energy. Avoid foods that are high in animal-based saturated fat or refined sugar, as both could sabotage your efforts to maximize energy.

The good news is that the extreme exhaustion and fatigue you are feeling so early on in your pregnancy should subside by your second trimester. How have you dealt with the extreme exhaustion you've been experiencing?