The Fallacies of Fatigue
“Enjoy the sleep now, because you won’t get it when the baby comes!”
It’s no secret that the final months of a pregnancy bring fatigue and insomnia. This fatigue is caused by your body producing more blood in order to carry nutrients to your growing baby. Increased Progesterone levels are the culprit for the sleepiness during one’s pregnancy. Insomnia, especially during the final months of the pregnancy, is brought about by heartburn, hormonal fluctuations, anxiety, and changed sleeping positions to name a few. But why does going through pregnancy and early postpartum with fatigue have to be accepted?
Physiologically, the body will go through necessary changes to grow a healthy baby.
These changes in weight and hormones affect the balance of the body. Nutrition and rest are the bread and butter to combating fatigue during the postpartum period. When you eat well, you feel well. Foods high in protein such as meats, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, cheese, milk, nuts, and seeds help prevent autophagy (dissolving of skeletal muscles). Folate is a vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects and abnormalities in the brain and spinal cords. In the postpartum period, healing is vital. Keeping handy snack baggies of your favorite nuts, cheeses, and little sweeties can fuel you up while filling you up.
The images are satirized on television shows, movies, and books. The new parents are disheveled and hair is a matted nest, with clothes that are days old, stained, and permeating a cocktail of smells.
This has become the norm for new parents in modern society. Falling asleep while doing everyday tasks. Why is this acceptable as “it is how it is”. Because, truth be told, it’s not always that way! There are definitely those days of back-to-back “which day of the week is it?”. Living in a haze of emotions and overwhelm can be 100% expected, especially in those early weeks postpartum. But also, deciding to create a serene sense of stability in one’s days is 100% acceptable as well. The implication that a new parent HAS to lose sleep with a newborn is a bias that has been passed down from generation to generation. What if the narrative was altered? Imagine embracing the notion that one can put the importance of healthy family sleep as a priority. Think of the positive effects!
Fatigue is described as mental or physically (or both simultaneously) feeling constantly tired or weak.
Take note of the happening through your normal day. Then add a goal or two to that list. This can be mentally, however seeing the words written down on paper makes things more tangible. Make eating a priority! Staying hydrated with liquids that don’t bog you down, or fill you with sugars. Pick a time in the day that you normally feel the most fatigued, and listen to your body. Take that time to stop, collaborate, and listen to it telling you to rest. Take 30 mins, 45 mins, an hour plus to melt into a chair, couch, bed and just be. No electronics, just you and your environment. What you’ll find, is that there IS time in the day to rest, when you give yourself permission to.
And when these days are becoming few and far between, checking with your provider to ensure that hormonal and mentally, you are on a safe and healthy path. Your postpartum doula can also be of great resource and assistance when dealing with fatigue.