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Sleep & Exercise During Pregnancy

Have a bad case of the yawns? There’s a reason for your tiredness. You’re building another whole person, and it’s taking a lot of your energy. As your pregnancy progresses, you may have little energy for exercise and find it hard to get a good night’s sleep or you may find the opposite.

 

4 mins to read Jan 12, 2022

5 ways to re-energise


Follow these practical tips to stay fit and overcome fatigue.


1. Exercise regularly

  • Exercise and being active is part of a healthy pregnancy journey – it’s a great way to relax and will help you prepare for what lies ahead in childbirth. Consult your doctor before starting any new regime or if you have any queries;
  • Find an activity you enjoy and build it into your schedule;
  • Try pregnancy pilates – this can help tone and strengthen specific muscles you’ll be using during birth and with a newborn (you may want to start on those pelvic floor exercises if you haven’t already!);
  • Swimming is a great pregnancy exercise as the water supports your growing belly comfortably and you can adjust your pace to suit the stage of your pregnancy;
  • Take a walk before dinner. This will also help you relax and make it easier for you to sleep;
  • Don’t strain yourself – it’s perfectly safe to exercise provided you don’t push yourself too hard;
  • Stay within weight gain guidelines. The heavier you are, the more tired you’ll feel;

 
2. Manage your activity

  • Pull up a chair. Whether on the job or doing household chores, take a seat when you need to, don’t overdo it;
  • Prioritise activities and cut out non-essential chores;
  • Reassess your socialising and ask family and friends not to call late in the evening. Explain that you’re trying to get plenty of rest before your baby arrives;
  • Try to do restful activities just before bed. Try a bath, a massage, reading or a walk in the garden or around the block. Avoid falling asleep in front of the TV or spending a lot of time online.

 
3. Relax

  • Sleep problems can be linked to anxiety, which may increase as the birth approaches. 
  • If you are anxious, raise your concerns with your healthcare practitioner – knowing the answers to common questions can make you feel much more confident and relaxed;
  • Make the most of antenatal classes to prepare yourself and help you relax. 

 
4. Manage your sleep

  • Nap during the day. Even if it’s only a catnap of 15 minutes, cuddle up under a rug and let yourself drift off. Don’t worry – this shouldn’t stop you sleeping at night;
  • In late pregnancy, avoid sleeping on your back as this can put pressure on blood vessels and reduce blood flow and oxygen to your baby. Sleeping on one side with a pillow under your tummy and one between your knees may help you sleep better. 
  • Go to bed at regular times;
  • Make sure that your bedroom is tidy and well ventilated, as this will help you sleep and breathe easy;
  • If these solutions don’t work, talk to your healthcare practitioner.

 
5. Manage your diet

  • Eat frequent, small meals. They’ll give you energy all day and will make it more comfortable as the room inside your stomach shrinks as your baby grows bigger;
  • Power lunch. Boost your energy with sliced chicken breast or a bowl of split-pea soup that’s high in iron and protein, to get you through to your mid-afternoon snack;
  • Snack smart. Try dried fruit or fortified cereal for a carbohydrate boost, or nuts for essential fats, to fuel the body;
  • Avoid rich or fatty foods and stimulating drinks such as caffeinated soft drinks. Instead, opt for water, fruit and vegetable juices or fruit smoothies to keep you hydrated and energised healthily.

Read more on food choices during pregnancy and pregnancy hormones & emotions.

Related FAQ's

How Long is Pregnancy?

Pregnancy on average is about 40 weeks. As pregnancy is counted from the first day of a woman’s last period, this means the baby is inside the womb for about 37-38 weeks to fully develop. A baby born prior to 37 weeks is considered ‘preterm’ and in most cases women will be induced if the baby hasn’t arrived on their own terms by 42 weeks.

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When Do You Start Showing in Pregnancy?

The rate of weight gain and growth around the stomach varies widely among women, and can even change from one pregnancy to the next for the same woman so unfortunately there is no straight answer for this question. Your height, body shape, and the size of your baby will all influence this. Your health care professional will take various measurements throughout your pregnancy to track your progress and make sure you’re progressing safely.

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How Many Weeks is The First Trimester?

The first trimester starts from the day of conception (when an egg is fertilised by sperm) to about 12 weeks.  This is based on an average gestation of 40 weeks. Apart from morning sickness a lot of what is happening during this trimester is not felt or seen by the naked eye.

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When to Take a Pregnancy Test

A regular home pregnancy test should be taken from around 11 days after your missed period. If you’re not keen to wait, there are early response pregnancy tests available for around 6 days before your missed period. The directions on pack will advise the best time of day to do the test, however urine is more concentrated upon waking, so taking the test in the morning may increase its accuracy. Keep in mind that home pregnancy tests are useful as a first indication, but you should visit your healthcare professional for confirmation of the result.

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When is Second Trimester?

The second trimester is from 12 – 24 weeks.  This is based on an average gestation of 40 weeks. The second trimester is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ phase as you start to get some energy back and morning sickness eases.  A lot of mums start to see their little bump growing and may even feel first kicks.

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When Should You Have a Prenatal Check-up?

Most women like to try and see their doctor for a prenatal (pre-birth) check up as soon as they find out they are pregnant which is around 6-8 weeks. From there, visits will likely occur every 4-6 weeks and become more regular as you get closer to your due date, or as often as your health care professional deems necessary. As every woman is unique and different in their pregnancy journey, your health care professional will help guide how often these should be.

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When is Third Trimester?

The third trimester is from 24 - 40 weeks. This is based on an average gestation of 40 weeks but in reality this final trimester will continue until your baby is born. This is the business end of pregnancy; your baby will be growing quite big now and all the last pieces are coming together in preparation for your baby’s arrival.

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Is it Safe to Drink Soda Water During Pregnancy?

For most women, yes, it is safe to drink soda water during pregnancy. Like all processed foods and drinks, moderation is key. Soda water is a carbonated water, commonly made by pumping dissolved carbon dioxide as a gas into water, but it can also occur in nature from special natural springs. While plain tap water is most appropriate, a plain un-sweetened soda water can be a much healthier choice than other sweetened carbonated drinks.

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Are Fermented Foods Safe During Pregnancy?

Fermented foods such as yoghurt, probiotic drinks, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha have been growing in popularity for the role they play in providing ‘friendly’ bacteria to the gut. However for homemade fermented foods there is the concern during pregnancy that while it increases good bacteria, there’s always a risk that bad bacteria will grow in these products. Commercially available fermented products are the best choice, and if you're concerned, speak to your healthcare professional for advice.

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Is Too Much Spicy Food Bad During Pregnancy?

Spices and spicy food don’t pose any food-related health risks to you or your unborn child. If, however spicy foods are not your usual food choice, it may create the same discomforts as it does to anyone who eats them – burning sensations and tummy upsets – which may not be worth it if added to your usual pregnancy discomforts. If it’s a craving your having, start slow and monitor for unwanted symptoms.

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