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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.