Practical Tips for Managing First Trimester Exhaustion


I don’t remember much about the first trimester when I was pregnant with my son, mostly because I slept through it. Exhaustion was my biggest symptom.

Of course, we also bought and moved into a house and took two back-to-back road trips during that first trimester.

Tired was an understatement.

First Trimester Exhaustion
Now that I’m pregnant with Baby #2, I’m experiencing that hit-by-a-freight-train feeling all over again — only this time, I’ve added Toddler Wrangling to the mix.

Tired is still an understatement.

I’ve felt like a slave to my exhaustion over the past few weeks, just a shell of my former self. I’ve been forcing myself to go through the motions and keep things running, but to be honest, I’ve been more successful at crying in frustration. Thanks, hormones.

Exhaustion is a huge factor in many pregnancies, but there’s not a lot of advice out there except to “wait it out” and hope the second trimester brings relief.

I refuse to give up that easily.

So I did some digging and compiled a list of practical tips for managing first trimester exhaustion (instead of just “dealing with it”):

  1. Sleep. Okay, I know this one sounds like a big fat “DUH,” but hear me out. Focus on getting as much rest as you possible can: nap during the day if possible, then skip the late-night TV and phone surfing in favor of an early bedtime. It’s also perfectly acceptable to skip the housework for now to catch some extra shut-eye. Give yourself grace, and realize that rest is what you need most right now.
  2. Eat nutritious foods regularly. Both you and your developing baby need high-quality fuel right now. I know firsthand that it can be difficult to force yourself to eat when you’re feeling nauseated, so try to keep some easy snacks on hand. I’ve found that granola bars, tortilla chips and salsa, and cereal are pretty safe on my delicate stomach. Are those the healthiest foods in the world? Definitely not, but it’s better than an entire carton of ice cream.
  3. Take your prenatal vitamin. Seriously, just do it. Your exhaustion may be partially caused by an imbalance or deficiency in one or more nutrients. If you suspect this to be the case, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor and get some bloodwork to know for sure. Many women discover iron deficiencies in pregnancy, for example, which often manifest through exhaustion.
  4. Make a to-do list, but only include one or two realistic items at a time. I find that I have much more success completing errands or housework in the morning. If I wait until later in the day, it becomes far more difficult to muster up the energy. 
  5. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Dehydration will leave you sluggish in no time. Your body actually needs more water now that you’re pregnant, so make it a priority. If you have a hard time drinking water, check out these tips for making it more palatable.
  6. Eliminate clutter. If you’re too tired to pick up the giant playroom mess for the third time that day, it may be a great time to reevaluate what your family actually needs. Box up some extraneous items and see how it feels to live with less. Fewer clothes = less laundry, fewer dishes = less time at the sink, fewer toys = less to pick up. These are only surface benefits that will help your energy levels, but you may find yourself enjoying a mental refresh at the same time.
  7. Lay off the social media. The constant stream of activity online can make it hard to rest and focus on your own priorities. Give yourself a little social media break and see if it lifts a mental weight.
  8. Do something that makes you feel human. When you’re in zombie mode, it’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day. Try to do something each day that makes you feel grounded and alive. I try to spend a few minutes in my Bible and journal. Other options could be taking a hot bath, enjoying a mug of tea, taking a walk, or doing a quick yoga sequence. (I’m sorry that I even have to say this, but it’s also a great idea to take the occasional shower and fix your hair. Talking to myself here…)
  9. Create an abbreviated routine. You likely won’t have the energy to stick to the “Do All The Things” routine you used to have, and that’s totally okay. Instead, decide on a few key things that you’ll do each day and establish a new rhythm. It’ll probably take some trial and error to figure out what you realistically have energy for — but once you get into a groove, you won’t have to waste precious energy figuring out what you should be doing at any given moment.
  10. Look for the little joys, and hold on for dear life. I have a tendency toward depression, but I’ve made it a practice to look for the little things in life that bring joy. It’s been a game-changer. I’ve found that it’s especially important when I’m in challenging stages like early pregnancy. There may be days when you have a hard time finding anything at all to be joyful about. But keep your eyes open — it will come to you eventually. The little life growing inside you is a great place to start.

At the end of the day, remember that this first trimester exhaustion is temporary and will soon be in the past. I hope these tips and tricks help you thrive in this season!

Do you deal with first trimester exhaustion in a way I didn’t mention? By all means, share in the comments!


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