Keep up the energy levels
Tiredness in pregnancy is very common, and not surprising. At the start your baby is growing at a phenomenal rate, and then later on you are carrying the weight of a still growing baby.
It can be tempting to reach for foods and drinks that give you a quick fix, but this really isn’t the answer.
Here are my top tips for sustaining your energy throughout pregnancy:
- Choose wholegrains wherever possible: wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice, oats, barley, rye and quinoa. These foods are naturally high in fibre and are therefore slow releasing carbohydrates that will keep your energy levels stable for much longer than their refined counterparts: white rice, pasta and bread. They also contain a far greater level of vitamins and minerals which are essential for a healthy pregnancy.
- Make sure you get at least 5 a day. Fruit and vegetables are packed full of vital nutrients which your body uses to make energy and which support your pregnancy.
- Avoid sweet treats such as cakes, chocolate, biscuits and ice creams. These cause blood sugar levels to peak and crash. And they are empty calories, providing little benefit to you or your baby, as they are devoid of nutrients.
- Eat protein at every meal and snack. It takes your body a long time to digest protein, and as a result it slows down the release of energy from the overall meal, keeping you fuller for longer, and your energy levels more stable. Good sources of protein are lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, soya, beans and lentils.Cut down on stimulants (tea, coffee, chocolate, fizzy drinks) as they upset your blood sugar balance and leave you needing more. Coffee in particular should be avoided in the first trimester as it is linked to miscarriage.
- Make sure you never leave more than 3 hours between eating. Any longer than this and your blood sugar levels will crash leaving you tired, hungry and irritable. At this point it’s really hard to resist cravings for cake and chocolate – so never let yourself go this long without food.
- Eat essential fats (from oily fish, nuts and seeds) as these improve your sensitivity to insulin which helps with blood sugar balance and energy levels. And they are important for the development of your baby’s brain.
- Drink plenty of water – aim for 8 glasses a day. Every cell in your body needs water to function, and feelings of dehydration mimic tiredness.
- Do regular exercise as this will make you feel great and banish lethargy
- Take a pregnancy specific multivitamin. It’s really hard to get everything you need from your diet, even when not pregnant, so a supplement is especially important at this time.
If you have tried all the above and are still exhausted, please see your GP to get your iron levels checked. Anaemia is very common in pregnancy and easily rectified.
If you would like more advice on any of the points mentioned in this article or would like to find out how nutrition can support fertility or pregnancy, please contact Emily on 07967 639347 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer one to one consultations in a family friendly clinic at several central locations in Ealing, West London. In addition to one to one consultations, I regularly organise seminars about popular topics related to nutrition.