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First trimester fatigue

Pregnancy Dr Minke Burke Director
Pregnant and feeling tired? Don't worry, that's normal.....

With tiredness in early pregnancy, I cannot help but making a comparison with chooks; needing to keep our precious fertilised egg warm and safe in a bed of feathers – it’s because you feel like you just want to lie in bed and sleep all day.

Most women experience tiredness in the first trimester.  Other common symptoms of early pregnancy are tender breasts, nausea and feeling (more) emotional.  Without any visible changes to the outside of your body, major changes are taking place within you.  Your hormone levels are high.  You find yourself tearing up easily, and 10 hours sleep just doesn’t seems enough.

We know that the high level of progesterone is responsible for your tiredness.  Progesterone is produced until 10 weeks of gestation largely by the corpus luteum, the follicle from which you have released the egg and after 7-10 weeks of gestation the placenta takes over it’s production.  Progesterone levels rise quickly (it doubles or triples) and a functional corpus luteum is vital to maintain the pregnancy.  Allow yourself to slow down and sleep more if you need to, this is normal.  After 12-15 weeks you may start to feel more energised again.

Progesterone has many other important roles; it is also responsible for transforming the endometrial lining into one that nurtures the rapidly developing embryo, and it relaxes your womb by relaxing smooth muscles allowing the uterus to grow without much discomfort.  On the other hand the smooth muscle relaxation also means more gastric reflux, constipation and, a bloated belly!