You may be lucky in pregnancy and miss out on dreaded morning sickness. But practically universally, one early pregnancy symptom that is unavoidable is the exhaustion. The fatigue and sleepiness that sets in during the first trimester is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Struggling to make it through a movie without passing out. Falling asleep on the couch at 8 p.m. Needing a mid-day nap no matter how much I slept the night before. Feeling like a slug trying to run a marathon every day.
The fatigue and tiredness can be really weird if you’re used to jumping out of bed in the morning and carrying on with your day like a normal human being who doesn’t fantasize about a nap. Admittedly, it can be tough to keep up your exercise routine when 20 minutes of shut-eye is way more appealing. And if you are suffering from morning sickness, too? That doesn’t exactly motivate you to get to the gym. Have no fear: Your energy will return magically during the second trimester and morning sickness should ease up, too. But until you make it to that wondrous day when you feel somewhat human again, here are some tips we’ve compiled to help you stay active when you’re just not feeling the workout love.
11 Tips for First Trimester Workouts
1. Try different times of day. You may notice a pattern to your nausea and fatigue. If mornings are miserable, go for mid-day or afternoon workouts. If your nausea kicks into gear after dinner, try early morning workouts. Go with a time that feels good to you — and know that it may change each day.
2. Set a minimum. If the thought of doing your standard hour-long cardio class makes you want to run the other direction, set a minimum amount of time as a goal for your workout. Tell yourself you’ll go for a 10-minute walk, and then do more if you’re feeling up to it. If not, be proud that you got moving at least that long.
3. Drop the intensity. If you’re not feeling it, start a slow walk instead of the run you’d normally go on. Grab the lighter weights. The point is to just do something. If once you get started you want to ramp it up, you can do so. But don’t psych yourself out thinking you need every workout to be an all-out sweatfest.
4. Eat something. If nausea is your new worst enemy, keeping some food in your stomach can help during first trimester workouts. And especially don’t work out on an empty stomach. Even a couple of crackers can help you with nausea that strikes on an empty stomach. Likewise, bring a post-workout snack just in case. You might be surprised at how quickly you need refueling after a workout.
5. Think tortoise, not hare. Slow and steady wins the race, so think like the tortoise, not the hare. Your body is already being taxed significantly; no need to go all out if you’re not feeling up to it. The goal is to think about the long-term — a nice, healthy active pregnancy — and not the short-term sprint your head is telling you that you should be up for.
6. Fight fatigue. If you notice fatigue strikes in the afternoon or mid-morning, try to schedule your first trimester workouts around that time of day. It seems counterintuitive that exercise will help fatigue, but getting out of the office or outside during your tired times can really energize you for the rest of the day. Even a few minutes walking around the block in sunshine can help!
7. Chew gum … or not. Sometimes the morning sickness can manifest as a gross taste in your mouth all day, every day. If it helps to chew gum, do it! If chewing gum make you want to puke, don’t! I found that mints helped me as well — and gum even helps with my reflux, so have some on hand just in case.
8. Just keep the habit. In the first exhausted trimester — and really all of the pregnancy — the point is to stay active if you’re already active or to get moving if you haven’t been. You’re not going to break speed records or lift crazy amounts of weight while pregnant; the goal is to make it a habit you’ll stick with forever.
9. Listen to your body. It takes awhile for your brain to catch up to your body when you’re pregnant. You might think it’s no big deal to sprint a mile but your body may tell you otherwise! Heed its warnings.
10. Expect weird things. You may get lightheaded if you stand up too quickly. You might get out of breath on a walk across the room. You might find yourself having to break twice during a first trimester workout to pee. These things are all totally normal!
11. Stay hydrated. Hydration is always important, so take sips frequently throughout your first trimester workouts and for the rest of the day.
I have a feeling most of these tips would work for early days with a newborn, too, so bookmark it for future reference! What first trimester workouts tips do you have for mustering up the energy when you’re exhausted? —Erin