If you’re anything like me, you’ve always associated the thought of pregnancy with eating anything and everything in sight.
Pizza, ice cream, anything that contains those nasty carbs we all fear of getting fat from (but can’t get ourselves to stay away from because of how delicious they are) – you name it!
If it’s in the fridge, we’ll be raiding in no time – no doubt about that.
But what if I told you that you could actually lose appetite during pregnancy?
What Causes A Loss Of Appetite During Pregnancy?
1) Hormonal Changes
Because of all the hormonal changes your body goes through at different stages in a pregnancy, one of the many symptoms you’ll more than likely be faced with at one point or another is loss of appetite.
The two hormones mostly responsible for loss in appetite during pregnancy are estrogen and the pregnancy hormone hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin).
When levels of these two hormones increase in your body, you’ll find it’s easier to become nauseous at the smell of some stuff you previously weren’t affected by1.
2) Morning Sickness
“Morning” sickness? Yeah right! I don’t know who gave this condition that name, but the name “all day sickness” suits it better if you ask me!
Depending on how bad the morning sickness you tend to experience during pregnancy is (unlike some lucky mothers-to-be who happen to never be affected by morning sickness to begin with), this often plays a huge role in decreasing your appetite.
How could it not be so while all you ever feel like, due of morning sickness, is nausea, the urge to vomit and being put off by most tastes and smells you’re exposed to?
With statistics showing that around 75% of pregnant women experience nausea during these 9 months, it’s only normal for your appetite to take a hit for the worse1.
3) Increase In Baby Size
The more your baby grows in size and the more your uterus expands as a result, the less room will be left for other organs such as the stomach.
Most pregnant women experience this towards the middle of their third trimester.
4) Digestive Trouble
A woman’s digestive system goes through all kinds of trouble during a pregnancy, which is one of the main culprits of a decreased appetite.
For example, many women experience intestinal gas due to the slowing down of digestive system function during pregnancy, which ends up making you feel like your stomach is full and has no more room for any additional food.
Also, with your digestive system functions slowing down during pregnancy, you’re now much more likely to experience constipation.
Some people feel indifferent to constipation as far as their appetite is concerned, while this condition makes other people feel “full” more than usual2.
Pregnancy is a very stressful experience on its own, and it takes its toll on both your body and mind alike, with all the changes your body goes through during this phase and all the thinking your mind is doing non-stop.
At times of stress, many people tend to eat more and “lose control”, while others tend to get “butterflies” in their stomach along with pain that shuts their appetite down.
When Does A Loss Of Appetite Happen During Pregnancy?
There isn’t one specific time during pregnancy that a mother-to-be begins to lose appetite, this can happen at different times for different women.
Appetite loss is one of the first symptoms many women experience during early pregnancy, sometimes as early as four weeks in.
On the other hand, other pregnant women don’t experience this until their second or third trimesters.
When Will I Get My Appetite Back?
Different women will also start to get their normal appetites back at different times throughout their pregnancies.
For the majority of women that begin to experience a decrease in appetite during their first trimester, things usually get better during the second trimester and they begin to get their appetite back.
Actually, you’ll have to be very careful during your second trimester not to gain too much pregnancy weight, because it’s during these 3 months that a pregnant woman’s appetite is usually at its highest level3.
As with everything else pregnancy related, though, not all women are alike so you may or may not end up experiencing this.
However, most will – again – experience a significant decrease in appetite during the third trimester, which is when the baby has become large enough and your uterus has expanded enough to little room and space for the stomach.
What Can I Expect To Feel?
Again, what kind of appetite loss you go through and what you feel is likely to be different than what another pregnant mother-to-be goes through and experiences.
For example, some women suddenly feel nauseous just thinking about what used to be some of their favorite food, let alone smelling or tasting them.
Other women might start to become nauseous no matter what they eat, and face trouble keeping anything they eat down without vomiting it back out again.
How Can I Get My Appetite Back During Pregnancy?
While loss of appetite during pregnancy is something very normal that will ultimately have to take its course before you feel normal again (which will eventually happen – you just have to be patient), the following is a list of tips you can implement that will help out.
1) Frequent Eating Schedule
Now, now – you might be asking yourself “what? Eating frequently? I can barely manage to keep the meals I eat down, you want me to eat frequently now too?”.
The key is eating frequent but smaller meals, not frequent and humongous meals.
When you eat smaller meals more frequently, this helps keep room in your stomach and does not trigger nausea as much as attempting to gulp down large meals at once that are more spaced out through the day.
So as a starting point, strive to divide your daily intake of food into 6 smaller meals spaced out every 2 to 3 hours, instead of eating all your day’s worth of food in just 2 or 3 larger meals.
2) Eating The Right Stuff
Eating the right food as part of your diet is just as important as eating smaller meals in a day’s time.
Make use of nutritious food that’s rich in protein and complex carbohydrates, both of which are easy to digest, and try to avoid the fatty stuff that sits in your stomach for longer periods of time and requires more effort to properly digest.
Also make sure you’re eating fibrous food throughout your pregnancy, because fiber greatly helps improve your body’s digestion process and keeps conditions like constipation at bay.
And, of course, it goes without saying that you should be smart and stick to the stuff you usually enjoy eating. Trying to eat something you know you don’t usually like and expecting it not to make you want to sprint to the bathroom to throw up is not the brightest of ideas.
3) Away With The Smelly Stuff
Because your sensitivity to smell is likely to be a lot higher during pregnancy, it’s best that you stay away from eating anything that has a strong smell to it4.
Whether that be a specific type of cheese, a dish that has a lot of spices, fast food such as French fries that you have to prepare yourself in the kitchen, etc .. All of these can easily make you nauseous and trigger vomiting.
4) Choose The Right Temperature
How you have your food also plays a role in determining your appetite levels.
Some women can only ever imagine warming up their food before having it, while others don’t really care whether they eat a warm or cold dish. As always, stick to your own preferences.
If there’s one thing you’re going to become best friends with throughout your pregnancy, it’s tea!
Seriously, it does wonders for a mother to be, whether that be to soothe the common sore throat during pregnancy, increase milk supply, or help get back a healthy appetite again.
Give it a go with some ginger tea a try and see if that helps you get your appetite back.
Staying properly hydrated is key! It’s important enough outside the context of a pregnancy, so you can only imagine how vital it is during pregnancy.
To stay properly hydrated throughout pregnancy, you’ll need to take in 10 to 12 8-ounce glasses of water’s worth in a 24-hour period.
Don’t forget that you’ll be getting water intake from other sources as well such as fruits and vegetables (you are following a nutritious diet, right?), and all sorts of different tea.
Any time you can take to yourself during pregnancy for relaxation purposes is time very well spent.
Because many cases of lost appetite during pregnancy are related to stress, often times all you need to have that sorted out is a little bit of “you” time.
Do whatever you think you need to do to relax.
For some people, that may mean dedicating time during the day for a power nap, while other people might find that a good hour of pregnancy-safe exercise approved by their doctor really takes their mind off things and helps release those valuable endorphins that make you feel good.
Will Loss Of Appetite Harm My Baby During Pregnancy?
Just as with any of the other changes your body goes through during pregnancy, one of the first questions likely to come to mind is whether or not this will harm the baby you’re pregnant with and possibly hamper their development.
For pregnant women who experience a decreased appetite during the first trimester, there usually isn’t much to worry about, especially if the appetite limitation isn’t excessive.
In most cases, it’s a decreased appetite during the second and third trimesters that you have to worry about more during a pregnancy, especially if it’s a severe decrease.
The second and third trimesters of a pregnancy are where you should be eating approximately 300 and 400 calories, respectively, in excess of what you usually eat, so a severe appetite limitation may see your caloric intake fall very short of the required amount5.
So if your normal appetite isn’t back by the time you’re in your second trimester, that’s not a good sign and you should not ignore this thinking that it will pass.
If at any time during your pregnancy you experience severe loss of appetite that affects your diet and prevents you from getting all the calories, vitamins and minerals both you and your baby need, talk to your doctor about it as soon as possible.
They will be able to recommend any supplementation you need to take to make up for any possible deficiency, as well as solutions to get a healthy appetite back and prevent any drastic decrease again in the near future.
Concerning prenatal vitamins, you might have a specific brand or formula that you’re already taking, but your doctor might recommend one that specifically has increased levels of the vitamin B6 or possibly even Diclegis, both of which help you get over nausea and get a healthy appetite back.
You should also talk to a physician if you’re losing weight because of your loss of appetite and can’t seem to gain it back again, or at least make the weight loss stop.
One of the cornerstones of a healthy pregnancy is being able to gain enough pregnancy weight to support your growing baby’s needs, so not eating enough and losing weight during a pregnancy is only going to cause problems.
An Important Note About Proper Hydration
Regardless of how your appetite is holding up and whether or not you feel like there’s room for anything more in your stomach, staying properly hydrated at all times throughout your entire pregnancy is an absolute must.
For mothers to be that find it very difficult to drink enough glasses of water on a daily basis without triggering nausea and throwing up, mixing things up a bit and staying hydrated by making use of ice is also a good idea.
- Nausea During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/nausea-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Pregnancy And Constipation. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/constipation-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Increased Appetite During Pregnancy. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/appetite.aspx. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Heightened Sense of Smell During Pregnancy. https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/heightened-smell.aspx. Accessed June 24, 2019.
- Healthy Weight during Pregnancy. https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/prenatal-wellness/healthy-weight-during-pregnancy. Accessed June 24, 2019.