Is Extreme Fatigue Normal in the Third Trimester?

Reviewed on 6/11/2021

While fatigue is a common and expected pregnancy symptom, extreme fatigue is not considered normal. Concerning causes of fatigue in pregnancy include gestational diabetes, anemia, thyroid problems, prenatal depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
While fatigue is a common and expected pregnancy symptom, extreme fatigue is not considered normal. Concerning causes of fatigue in pregnancy include gestational diabetes, anemia, thyroid problems, prenatal depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue is a common symptom throughout pregnancy and is most common during the first and third trimesters. However, extreme fatigue is not normal and may be a sign of an underlying health condition. 

See your doctor if your fatigue is:

  • Severe 
  • Persistent
  • Lasts throughout the entire pregnancy

Causes of fatigue that may be of concern include: 

  • Gestational diabetes
    • The body becomes resistant to insulin during pregnancy which may cause fatigue
    • Other symptoms of gestational diabetes include unusual thirst and frequent urination in large amounts
  • Anemia
    • This is a low red blood cell count, which may occur after week 20, when blood volume increases and can deplete the body’s stores of iron
    • Other symptoms of anemia include weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness/fainting
  • Thyroid problems
  • Prenatal depression
    • Being more tired than normal for pregnancy can be a sign of prenatal depression
    • Other symptoms of prenatal depression include sadness, apathy, wanting to sleep all the time or not at all, wanting to eat all the time or not at all
    • If symptoms persist more than two weeks, tell your doctor 
    • Depression during pregnancy can affect both the mother and her unborn baby
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

All of these causes of fatigue during pregnancy can be managed and treated, so talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms that concern you.

What Causes Fatigue in the Third Trimester?

Typical causes of fatigue in the third trimester can include: 

  • Insomnia
  • Carrying the extra weight of the baby
  • Frequent urination
  • Stress
    • Expecting a baby comes with a lot of things to do and other decisions 
    • Trying to juggle a job, other children, and other responsibilities with pregnancy

What Is the Treatment for Fatigue in the Third Trimester?

There are a number of home remedies to help relieve fatigue during pregnancy. However, a pregnant woman’s body is busy growing another human being, so it may not be possible to completely eliminate fatigue. 

  • Get adequate rest
    • Go to sleep earlier
    • Take naps when possible
    • Drink less in the evening to reduce waking to urinate during the night
  • Stay hydrated (just don’t drink too much too close to bedtime)
  • Get proper nutrition
    • Make sure you consume enough calories, protein, and iron during pregnancy
  • Change your schedule
    • Whenever possible, cut back on responsibilities 
    • Ask family and friends for help with errands or house work
  • Exercise regularly 
    • Moderate exercise such as walking and swimming can help energize you
    • Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes, three times per week
  • Practice relaxation techniques
    • Yoga
    • Stretching 
    • Deep breathing
    • Progressive muscle relaxation
    • Guided imagery 
  • Get a massage

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Reviewed on 6/11/2021
References
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-third-trimester

https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-concerns/fatigue-during-pregnancy-5575/

https://www.babycenter.com/pregnancy/your-body/the-basics-of-good-sleep-during-pregnancy_7820

https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/pregnancy-fatigue.aspx

https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/depression-during-pregnancy.aspx