38 Weeks Pregnant & Sudden Exhaustion

Throughout pregnancy, many women complain of fatigue 2. In early pregnancy, this is due primarily to hormones and the many changes your body is dealing with. In late pregnancy, the reasons are often more complicated and sometimes unique to each woman. By documenting other problems and taking steps to alleviate them, you may be able to increase your energy level, enabling you to deal better with other discomforts of late pregnancy.

Typical Symptoms

In the ninth month of pregnancy, you may suddenly feel exhausted all the time. Going up and down stairs and doing other more physically demanding things make you out of breath. You may cease sleeping all the way through the night, which makes short naps during the day a necessity. In addition, you may be experiencing much greater pressure than usual on your pelvis, which can make your back and upper leg muscles sore and tired.

Causes of Exhaustion in Late Pregnancy

Poor sleep quality is one of the primary causes of this sudden exhaustion; women in late pregnancy breathe more poorly, can't get comfortable, have cramps and contractions, may have issues with gastric reflux that worsens at this late stage and may have to urinate in the middle of the night one or more times. All these issues contribute to sometimes severe sleep disturbances, resulting in exhaustion during the day.

Some serious conditions may also cause exhaustion in late pregnancy. For instance, obstetricians routinely check for anemia in both early and late pregnancy.


Despite her exhaustion, a woman nearing full-term pregnancy needs to stay as active as is feasible. The hormone-induced loosening of ligaments makes her body more prone to cramping, which can cause problems during labor. At the same time, it is also important to get plenty of real rest. This is the time to start maternity leave from work if possible, and to ask others to help. Changing dietary habits to eliminate all caffeine and other things that might keep one from sleeping is also a good idea.

If the woman can't sleep well due to breathing problems or gastric reflux, using more pillows and sleeping on her left side may help. A physician may be able to prescribe remedies for both of these problems as well. You may be able to minimize cramps by taking prenatal vitamins and staying well-hydrated, but because they are usually due to complex hormonal changes, there may be no way to prevent them.

When to Call the Obstetrician

Pregnant women should always tell their obstetricians during regular checkups if they are feeling very tired, especially if the exhaustion interferes with daily routines. Sudden and severe fatigue--when you go to bed okay and the next morning wake up dragging--can be a sign of something more serious, especially if it persists. If you cannot rest and feel better, tell your doctor. Also report symptoms of acute depression and pica, a condition in which you have a craving for non-food items like clay or paper.

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