During your pregnancy, you're likely to feel tired much of the time -- though this fatigue may be particularly noticeable after you eat, particularly in the first and third trimester of pregnancy. If you experience tiredness after eating, there are a few things you can do to try to avoid or manage your symptoms.
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Fatigue during pregnancy is very common, particularly during the first and third trimester. Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, in their book "What To Expect When You're Expecting," explain that hormones are to blame in early pregnancy, and the weight of your growing baby causes fatigue later on. Because you divert blood toward the gut -- and away from the other organs -- after eating, you'll often notice more tiredness after you eat.
Another reason it's so common to feel tired after you eat while you're pregnant is that your digestive tract experiences some significant changes. It works more slowly, for one thing, and tends to require more blood. These changes help to facilitate extracting all the nutrients from your food, explains Dr. Miriam Stoppard in her book "Conception, Pregnancy and Birth." Understanding how your digestive tract changes during pregnancy can help you work with it, and avoid some of the fatigue that accompanies a meal.
There are a few things you can do to try to prevent or reduce your post-meal fatigue. Try eating small meals or snacks throughout the day, rather than relying upon just a few larger meals. This will help keep your digestive tract functioning more regularly, and will reduce the massive blood flow to the gut that follows a large meal and can lead to extreme fatigue. You can also try eating protein along with carbohydrate to help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
If you've tried adjusting your eating routine and still find that you're very tired after meals, take a cue from your pregnant body and rest. Dr. Stoppard warns that it's best not to lie down right away after a meal, particularly in the third trimester, as that can lead to heartburn. However, you can sit down and put your feet up, or prop yourself up in bed with pillows and take a nap. Getting plenty of rest is important during pregnancy, and sometimes fatigue is nothing more than an indication that you need some sleep.
- “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”; Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel; 2008
- “Conception, Pregnancy and Birth”; Miriam Stoppard, M.D.; 2008