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Fatigue and tiredness during pregnancy

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Fatigue (tiredness) is common in the first and third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Sometimes tiredness can be a sign of another health problem so if it happens often, it's important to discuss this with your doctor or midwife.
  • Healthy eating, exercise, avoiding caffeine and getting plenty of rest can help improve your sleep.
  • It’s important to sleep on your side, not on your back, from 28 weeks.

Why do I feel so tired during pregnancy?

In the first trimester, it’s common to feel fatigue (tired) because of the changes happening in your body. You’ll probably have more energy after 14 weeks.

Towards the end of pregnancy, you might feel tired because you’re carrying more weight and not sleeping as well as usual.

Getting enough sleep is important for you and your baby. This can be hard because sleep is different when you’re pregnant.

Some of the ways your sleep changes during pregnancy include:

  • Sleep is not as deep and refreshing.
  • You wake up more during the night, for example, to go to the toilet or when your baby kicks.
  • You might feel uncomfortable or get heartburn when you lie down.
  • You might start to snore or pause more between breaths while you’re asleep.
  • Some people develop restless legs syndrome when they’re pregnant.
  • Some people have disturbing dreams in late pregnancy, which might be a sign that they feel anxious.

How do I deal with tiredness?

It’s important to eat a healthy diet and rest as much as you can. This could mean sitting with your feet up, asking for help with household chores or going to bed earlier.

Here are some things you can try to improve your sleep:

  • Don’t drink coffee or tea before you go to bed.
  • sleep on your side, especially after 28 weeks.
  • Get some exercise late in the day, but not too close to bedtime.
  • Do something relaxing before bed.
  • Use pillows between your knees, behind your back and under your tummy.
  • If heartburn is a problem, sleep with your head up on pillows, or ask your doctor if a medicine can help.
  • If leg movements are a problem, cutting down on caffeine might help.

Will tiredness affect my baby?

Tiredness can be normal, but it can make it harder for you to do things that are good for you and your baby, like eating a healthy diet and exercising.

Sometimes tiredness or sleep problems can be a sign of other health problems that can affect you and your baby. For example:

  • Tiredness might be a symptom of anaemia due to low iron levels, which can happen in pregnancy as your body needs more iron.
  • Loud snoring or frequent pauses between breaths can be a sign of a breathing problem at night. This can put you at a higher risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, which can affect how your baby grows.
  • Difficulty sleeping can be a sign of anxiety or depression.

Why do I feel faint during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there are changes in your heart and blood vessels that affect how blood circulates in your body. Some of these changes can make you more likely to feel faint.

Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is common in the early and middle stages of pregnancy. The hormone progesterone has a relaxing effect on the walls of your blood vessels and this can lead to a drop in your blood, particularly in the first and second trimesters.

You might notice feelings of light-headedness if you stand for extended periods of time or if you stand up quickly. In the middle of your pregnancy, at around 24 weeks, your blood pressure reaches its lowest point, and from there, it begins to gradually rise again. At this stage, your body has produced extra blood, requiring your heart to work a bit harder to circulate it throughout your body.

As your baby grows, if you lie flat on your back, the weight of your pregnant uterus can press on (and block) the blood vessels that send blood around your body. This can also make you feel faint.

Other things can happen in pregnancy that might make you dizzy. For example:

  • Your blood sugar level can drop.
  • Dizziness may be a symptom of dehydration, which can develop if you have severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

If you’re in early pregnancy and you faint or feel very dizzy, this could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. This is more likely if you also have bleeding or abdominal pain. If this happens, go straight to your nearest emergency department.

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor or midwife if:

  • you're feeling exhausted and nothing helps
  • you start snoring or stop breathing more frequently when you’re asleep
  • your sleep is disturbed by a health condition like heartburn or restless legs syndrome
  • you're feeling anxious or depressed
  • you faint or feel dizzy often
  • you're experiencing nausea or vomiting

Go to your nearest emergency department if:

  • you faint or feel very dizzy in early pregnancy
  • you're unable to keep down food or fluids because of nausea or vomiting

Make sure you see your doctor or midwife for regular antenatal appointments. They will monitor your blood pressure, check for problems and help you with any symptoms or concerns.

Resources and support

Speak to your doctor or midwife if you are feeling fatigue or tired during your pregnancy.

Read more about the importance of going to sleep on your side from 28 weeks from the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth (Stillbirth CRE).

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2022

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