Why are we so tired? – Prenatal and postpartum fatigue

Hi guys – Dr. Erdman here!

In the first video in our prenatal and postpartum health series, Jennifer Rogers from Fitmom Durham and I talk about fatigue. Click on the video below to watch!


If you’re feeling tired, you’re not alone! Low energy is such a common concern reported by our clients and patients. As an expectant mom or new mom, energy levels are so important in how you feel about yourself and your ability to manage your day-to-day to-do list. This is an issue whether you are a stay-at-home mom, commuting to your job, or working at or close to home (or a combination of all three!). If you are feeling depleted or unable to keep up as well as you used to, you need to figure out why you’re feeling this way.

In our video we explore some of the most common causes of fatigue: low iron levels, low vitamin B12 levels and hypothyroidism. There may be other underlying reasons for your low energy, and ruling out issues one by one requires testing and an evaluation with your healthcare provider, like a naturopathic doctor or family doctor.

Sleep deprivation or night waking may be only part of the equation. The sleep habits of newborns and toddlers leave a lot to be desired and night waking here is often beyond your control. However, if you are waking in the night due to common concerns like anxiety, heartburn, back pain or muscle cramps, these issues can be considered as part of your whole health picture and addressed via individualized diet, lifestyle, acupuncture and often nutritional or herbal supplementation recommendations.

There are steps you can take while you’re waiting for test results or while you’re waiting for the effects of supplementation to kick in. You want to protect the energy you have, avoid doing too much and create habits that support solid and restful sleep. Here are some of our best recommendations

Food planning: This is a habit that often takes time to develop. It means thinking about the meals you want in the week ahead and creating a grocery list from that plan so you shop strategically and on budget when you’re cooking, it means making larger batches, providing you with leftovers to freeze or to make lunches. having a list-sharing app (I use Wunderlist) where all members of the family can contribute to the list beats a paper list that often gets lost at the bottom of your bag using a slow cooker can allow you to reduce prep and time at the oven or stove and makes bigger batches for freezer meals. having a cooking or food prep day on weekends (or on a day where you aren’t alone with baby/kids) where you chop foods for snacks and meals later in the week can cut down on meal preparation when you’re flying solo at home the above tips assume that you are the primary meal planner, cook and grocery shopper, which isn’t always the case these days (yay!). If your partner is sharing the meal prep and grocery shopping load with you, figure out how best to include some of these suggestions to streamline your kitchen and shopping time.

Make bedtime a priority: You’ve made it through your day, the kid(s) are in bed and it’s finally YOU time! The list of possible things you could or would like to do dances in your head – have a nice cup of tea, watch some TV or a movie, catch up with a friend or family member in person or on the phone, chat with your spouse or partner, check Facebook, scroll through Pinterest or Instagram or [insert other social media here]…or…..sleep. Sleep is wayyyy down on the list for many moms that suddenly find themselves with some quality kid-free time. It’s these moments when you may feel like the ‘old you’ again and it is hard to prioritize sleep over things that are fun and diverting. We get it and are not immune to these feelings. Try to set aside a certain amount of time for you each evening and then create a firm bedtime. Your future self will thank you.

Clean up your bedtime routine: Have you ever heard of sleep hygiene? It’s the idea that you can promote more restful sleep by creating conditions of rest and relaxation during your pre-bedtime hours. Try some of these tonight! Keep your room as dark as possible and cool in temperature. These conditions promote melatonin production, your nighttime hormone that promotes restful sleep. Keep screens out of the bedroom (TV, phones, tablets) and avoid screen use before bed – ideally 2 hours or more. This helps reduce exposure to light that reduces melatonin production. You can also reduce the brightness or use amber tinted glasses to reduce the impact of light on your hormone levels. Create a calming pre-bed routine by winding down with a cup of tea, a warm bath, a book or e-reader, or meditation or deep breathing practice.

 Bedtime routine challenge

How are you making sleep a priority? What changes have you made to create a more restful bed time routine?

Comment below or connect with us on Facebook by posting to our pages: @drhayleyerdmannd and @FitmomDurham

Follow our blogs here: Dr. Hayley Erdman ND and Fitmom Durham

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