Understanding Pregnancy and Dealing With Burnout

 Guest post by Patrick Bailey.

The duration of pregnancy can be a complicated game of math, especially if this is your first rodeo. Faulty expectations can increase the likelihood of burning out. 

Even though the common belief indicates that pregnancy lasts for nine months, 

The answer to “how many months is a pregnancy” depends on whether you know the actual conception date or must rely upon the gestational age, which is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period. 

Using the gestational age, pregnancy is calculated as much as three to four weeks before conception. In other words, while a full-term pregnancy can total up to about nine months or 37 to 38 weeks after conception, it's 40 weeks or about 10 months going by your menstrual period.

Figuring out the exact time of your last menstrual period can be tricky, too, if you weren't keeping track. If you want or need to know the gestational age in the early stages of your pregnancy, an ultrasound is a sensible option. 

During the first two weeks of your pregnancy (as calculated by gestational age), a process called ovulation is set to take place wherein the most mature egg is discharged from your ovary. Ovulation can occur earlier or later, depending upon the duration of your menstrual cycle.

Once the egg is fertilized, it subsequently moves down to your fallopian tube, its cells dividing and developing during the third or fourth week. The cells then shape a ball that glides around in your uterus for approximately two to three days to kick-start the pregnancy.

Start of Pregnancy

Pregnancy officially starts when a group of cells attaches to the lining of your uterus in a process called implantation. Usually, implantation begins about six days after conception and takes roughly three to four days to complete. (Pregnancy does not always result even if a sperm fertilizes the egg since your uterus sheds more than half of the fertilized eggs when you are on your period.)

Since pregnancy isn't always immediately obvious, you must watch for the common signs of pregnancy. These vary depending on duration, intensity, and frequency. Not having your period is among the top indications of pregnancy.

 After you’ve missed your period, a pregnancy test should tell you if you are actually pregnant. 

Other signs include: 

  • Feeling fatigued and tired. Early in your pregnancy, the levels of the hormone progesterone reach an all-time high and can put you to sleep. Progesterone can also lower your blood pressure and sugar levels.

  • Mood swings. 

  • Tender or swollen breasts

  • Slight bleeding or cramping. 

  • Nausea

  • Food cravings. 

  • Headaches. 

  • Constipation. 

  • Feeling bloated. 

Although not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, if you are pregnant it is likely you will have at least one of them. If you do, see a gynecologist for an ultrasound to ensure that there are no problems with your organs, tissues, and vessels.

During your first trimester, expect hormonal changes that may sap your energy, especially if you are working. Your body will start producing extra blood to distribute nutrients to your growing baby. This can cause mild anemia but preexisting anemia and thyroid disease can also make you feel tired and fatigued. This is why you need to see a doctor or midwife for prenatal blood work. If you are worn out, you may need to take an iron supplement to keep their pregnancy as healthy as possible.

How Burnout Can Affect Your Pregnancy?

Burnout may occur during pregnancy, leaving you feeling empty, exhausted, and unable to keep up with the demands of your working life, but it is not inevitable. Even a stressful working environment need not lead to burnout if you manage your stress well, may not cause any ill-effects to your pregnancy.

Tips to Avoid Burnout During Pregnancy

While fatigue and tiredness tend to disappear during the second trimester, it will usually return in the third and final trimester, increasing the chances of a possible burnout. 

Here are some easy tips to cope with fatigue and avoid burnout during your pregnancy.

Take An Extra Rest. 

  • This seems elementary but most of us tend to forget it. When you feel fatigued, take a nap if you can manage it. 

    • As much as you might like to, even just to break up the boredom, you can't do it all anymore. Ask for and accept help. Overworking may harm the baby.

    • At night, avoid fluids, especially caffeinated ones, a few hours before bedtime to minimize the number of times you have to get up at night to go to the bathroom.

    • You should aim for at least eight hours of sleep every night, but the quality as well as the quantity can influence how you feel and will maximize the blood flow to your baby.

Exercise Daily. 

  • Daily exercise is essential in bolstering your energy levels and keeping your muscles flexible during pregnancy. You can choose to do some stretches or even take a short walk during the day to ease back and joint pain, release tension, and, more importantly, increase your heart rate so that you can sleep better at night.

  • Exercising can spell the difference between an excruciating pregnancy and a smooth one, but it's a bad idea to start a vigorous workout program during pregnancy. To find out the best and safest exercise program for you, speak with your doctor about joining a prenatal fitness class. 

Watch Your Diet. 

  • What you eat during your pregnancy can make a significant difference in how you feel. Discuss your diet with a medical professional. A few tweaks might be better for you and baby, maybe even confine your weight gain during pregnancy to a minimum.

  • You do need more calories—no less than 300 extra calories every day unless you are overweight and over-eating already—but don't depend on snack foods and carbohydrates for rapid bursts of energy; they are followed by corresponding crashes. Also, stay hydrated and make sure to get the right amount of protein.

 Adjust Your Schedule. 

  • It is advisable to temporarily recalibrate your schedule during pregnancy so your current activities or commitments don't prove too much to handle. This may include asking your family and friends to run errands for you or assist you with household tasks. Also, if possible, trim down your hours at work to minimize the risk of complications during pregnancy.

Prioritize Important Tasks. 

  • You can minimize work stress by making a daily to-do list so that you can prioritize your tasks. 

Relax. It is also optimal if you can practice relaxation techniques and share your frustrations with a friend, a supportive co-worker or a loved one instead of keeping everything to yourself.

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. Patrick is currently a writer for Mountain Springs Recovery as well as on his own blog.

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I help people recover from or prevent burnout in their lives.  Register here for my next webinar on going from burnout to your ideal life.