Pregnancy fatigue is common but can get even worse in the third trimester.
You may feel physically drained, foggy and like you have less energy to complete tasks. While it’s likely impossible to completely eliminate third trimester fatigue, there’s some changes you can make to control your energy levels.
Keep reading to learn what causes third trimester fatigue and how to manage it.
Pregnancy fatigue can affect you at any time but it’s usually worse in the first and third trimesters. In the first trimester, hormones can cause you to feel more tired than usual. Many people feel better in the second trimester. However, that tiredness can return in the third trimester when your baby is the biggest.
Causes of Third Trimester Fatigue
Third trimester fatigue may start as soon as you hit your last trimester. Your fatigue from previous trimesters may have also carried over or intensified.
If you’re experiencing a zap of energy in the third trimester, there are a variety of causes below.
Carrying Extra Weight
Physically carrying around the extra weight of a baby can get tiring! By the third trimester, your baby has become physically demanding, causing you to become tired sooner.
Poor & Uncomfortable Sleep
The bigger your belly grows, the harder time you might have sleeping. When it gets difficult to find comfortable positions, you may have a worse time falling or staying asleep. Frequent trips to the bathroom can also disrupt your rest, causing pregnancy fatigue the next day.
If your diet has changed for the worse in the third trimester, that could be making you feel more tired than usual. Diet can impact fatigue in a few ways:
- Not getting enough calories. You need calories for energy, so don’t skip meals.
- Poor nutrition. If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it can lead to fatigue.
- Sugar crashes. Sweet treats can give you a quick boost of energy but leave you feeling depleted after.
- Going too long without eating. Your brain may feel foggier after a few hours of not eating.
- Eating too much at once. Eating too much can make you feel tired, especially after lunch.
Stopping Exercise Regime
The third trimester can make it difficult to exercise, especially if you have a big pregnancy belly. If you quit your exercise regime, it may be influencing your fatigue levels. Research shows that physical activity can combat fatigue and low energy. Without it, you might be feeling even more tired. There’s ways to scale back your exercise while still getting an energy boost. We discuss tips for this in the next section.
The third trimester can be stressful as you prepare for both labor and a new baby. Your anxiety levels might be at an all-time high. Research shows that stress can affect fatigue, possibly minimizing your energy levels.
How to Manage Third Trimester Fatigue
It’s normal to be tired during pregnancy and fatigue may be impossible to eliminate during the third trimester. However, there’s a variety of things you can do to manage your energy levels.
Take Breaks During the Day
Try to accept that you need more breaks during pregnancy. If you’re cleaning your home, you may need to sit down for a break. Instead of rushing through your to-do list, you may need to take a moment to relax. Allow yourself these breaks to help manage your third trimester fatigue.
Along with frequent breaks throughout the day, consider squeezing in some naps. Even a short nap after you get home from work or during the afternoon on a weekend can do wonders.
As your belly gets larger, laying down will probably become more uncomfortable. It could cause you to lose sleep at night, leading to pregnancy fatigue in the day. Frequent bathroom trips could also interrupt your sleep cycle. If you can relate, you can do a few things to improve your sleep. Consider these tips below:
- Use pregnancy pillows. A good pregnancy pillow can widen your sleeping position options and improve comfort.
- Switch sleeping locations if needed. If you feel more comfortable sleeping on the sofa or guest bed, try switching locations.
- Limit fluids before bed. If you’re getting up to pee in the middle of the night, try limiting your fluids before bed. Although hydration is important, try to drink most of your beverages in the early evening.
Clear Your Schedule
If you’re struggling with third trimester fatigue caused by a burdened schedule, delete tasks off your to-do list. Pregnancy is one of the most tiring times of your life—you’re creating a whole human! You’re allowed to feel tried and to scale back on your daily to-dos!
Rethink your schedule and plan plenty of time to relax. Below are some additional tips:
- Only do the essentials. Third trimester fatigue can be minimized by fewer tasks and more relaxation time. Look at your calendar and cross off the tasks or projects that aren’t essential or ones that can wait until after the baby.
- Share responsibilities. There’s no better time to dole out responsibilities than during your third trimester. You don’t need to—and shouldn’t—be doing it all. Ask a family member to cook meals, do laundry or put away the dishes. Being pregnant is a full-time job and you can use all the help you can get.
- Accept help. Many times, family, friends and coworkers will notice you’re tired and volunteer their help. Don’t be afraid to say, “Yes, please!” If you feel like a burden, consider that people actually want to help. Studies show that happiness is influenced by how much we help others. Helping you helps them too!
- Put yourself first. During pregnancy, you and your baby are number one. When you need to make a decision, ask what’s best for yourself. If you feel selfish, remember that putting yourself first is also putting your baby first.
- Say no. If someone asks you to help out or attend a social activity, it’s okay to say no. When someone asks for energy you don’t have, prepare a phrase you can use, like “I can’t right now but please ask me next time.”
Eat a Balanced Diet
Your diet can contribute to and worsen your third trimester fatigue. A healthy, balanced diet consists of:
- Whole grains
- Healthy oil
Try to limit your sugar intake. Sugar can boost your energy, but cause it to crash shortly after.
Eating a balanced diet is also about having healthy eating habits, including:
- Eat small meals frequently. This can stop you from feeling foggy between meals.
- Don’t eat big meals. This tip is helpful for those who feel sluggish after a meal.
- Non-processed snacks. Instead of eating chips, reach for nuts. Instead of ice cream, choose yogurt. Making small changes can avoid sugar crashes and make you feel less fatigued.
Fatigue is one of the first signs you’re dehydrated. If you’re not getting enough fluids, you might feel even more tired during the third trimester. Aim to drink plenty of water. Fluids from herbal teas, soups and flavored water also count.
Get Gentle Exercise
Exercise is recommended during most pregnancies, as long as you modify your activity as your comfort levels change. But always remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new regime.
Exercise can make you feel more energized. It increases the production of mitochondria, which raises your energy supply. It also boosts your oxygen circulation, allowing your body to function better. Exercise also releases feel-good hormones. Even better, having a regular exercise routine can result in better sleep. A good night’s sleep will help you reduce daytime pregnancy fatigue.
Exercise can be difficult in the third trimester when your belly makes many moves difficult to perform. Some people find pregnancy exercise balls helpful and comfortable, even during the later stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy Yoga designed for the third trimester can also provide a light stretch.
If you typical workout but have stopped because of fatigue, consider even a little exercise can help. Instead of doing your usual workout, try a gentle walk around the block instead.
While exercise is a great energizer, don’t push it, especially during the third trimester. And when you feel too tired, skip it instead of forcing it.
When to Talk to a Doctor About Third Trimester Fatigue
Always mention any new symptoms to your doctor during prenatal appointments. If you’re struggling with extreme third trimester fatigue or if you notice other symptoms, contact your doctor. While pregnancy fatigue is usually a normal symptom, it can also be a sign of something else, like:
- Gestational diabetes
- Thyroid problems
Summary: Third Trimester Pregnancy Fatigue
Third trimester fatigue is common. The physical burden of carrying extra weight can make you tired enough, let alone your big belly causing you to get poor sleep. Other factors, like diet, stress and physical activity can also impact pregnancy fatigue. Lifestyle changes can help you manage your energy levels during this time. If you experience extreme third trimester fatigue or fatigue combined with other symptoms, contact your doctor to rule out other causes.
Do You Have a Fetal Doppler?
Fetal dopplers are handheld devices that allow you to hear your baby while she’s still in the womb. Many parents use it as a bonding tool, connecting them to their babies!