Appetite Loss during Pregnancy: Causes & Tips to Combact Hunger

Loss of Appetite during Pregnancy – Reasons & Remedies

The depiction of pregnancy in popular media sometimes falls short of the many intricacies of motherhood in real life. One such example is the depiction of the hungry mother, whose voracious appetite is comically shown to be much larger than that of a normal human being. After seeing these popular characterisations of hungry mothers who gorge on everything from pizza to raw pickles, expectant mothers may be shell-shocked by the feelings they experience in the real world.

Many people may think they have a free license to gorge all they want, considering that pregnancy is the only time in a woman’s adult life when eating is encouraged and does not impart any guilt. However, it is then that no appetite during pregnancy usually strikes. The woman may find herself getting nauseous at the sight and smell of their favourite food items.

Is It Normal to Have Loss of Appetite While Pregnant?

Yes, it is normal to experience a loss of appetite during pregnancy. In British English, it is also referred to as ‘pregnancy-related anorexia.’ Many expectant mothers may find that their appetite fluctuates throughout pregnancy. During the first trimester, hormonal changes can lead to feelings of nausea and morning sickness, which often result in a reduced desire to eat. Additionally, certain smells and tastes may intensify, causing aversions to certain foods and further contributing to the loss of appetite.

However, it is essential to note that a loss of appetite should not persist excessively, as proper nutrition is crucial for the health of both the mother and the developing baby. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider if the loss of appetite persists for an extended period or leads to significant weight loss.

First Trimester Appetite Loss

While the first trimester may not cause any changes in your outward appearance as an expecting mother, the foundation for the growth of the child is being laid within the body. Hormonal changes are taking place, and they directly cause morning sickness in the mother. In the first trimester, the expected weight gain is around one pound per week and will be enough to support the small needs of the foetus.

What Causes Appetite Loss?

In the early stages of pregnancy, loss of appetite usually occurs with the onset of morning sickness in the person. It is estimated that loss of appetite occurs in around 70 to 85% of pregnant women, unlike the portrayal of pregnancy in movies and shows.

Morning sickness develops in mothers as an instinctual method of protecting the minuscule foetus from any harmful food items which may have been taken by the mother. This explains the loss of appetite seen in the mother, in the first trimester. An increase of hormones in the pregnant mother, including hormones like oestrogen and the pregnancy hormone, hCG, also contributes to the loss of appetite. These changes make the mother increasingly sensitive to the smells around her and make her more susceptible to bouts of nausea. In some women, it also causes a loss of taste, with a metallic taste enveloping the whole of the tongue to make her averse to comfort food.

Morning Sickness

Remedies to Deal With Appetite Loss and Meet Your Nutritional Needs in Early Pregnancy

Loss of appetite, while beneficial in some cases, can also lead to the mother neglecting her nutritional needs. This needs to be remedied, and the standard remedies are:

  • Liquid intake is significant, perhaps even more than consuming solid food. Mothers need around 80 ounces of liquid per day, from sources like fruits and vegetables.
  • Another excellent choice is to mix warm water with lemon, ginger or ginger tea; this can not only reduce nausea but also provide nutrition required during the pregnancy.
  • Instead of consuming three large meals per day, you can opt to have six small meals spread out across the time you are awake. This helps reduce the symptoms of vomiting and also keeps your intake in check. 
  • In times you do feel hungry, stock up on proteins and carbs. These items keep you full for a longer time and also keep your blood sugar stable throughout.
  • The sense of smell in mothers is heightened, so you would do well to avoid items which have a strong smell. For example, instead of having fast-food chicken, you can instead opt for chicken with a simple salad.
  • Avoid items that you know can make you feel uncomfortable, no matter how healthy they seem to be.
  • According to your preferences at the time, you can change the temperature of your food to suit your mood. This can help your stomach a little better.
  • Also, remember to take your vitamin tablets without any breaks. This has to be routine, akin to brushing teeth in the morning. Vitamins can help you gloss over any gaps in nutritional intake, during pregnancy.

Woman taking vitamin pills

Loss of Appetite in the Second Trimester

The second trimester is usually not as bad as the first one, as most women find that their appetite returns during this period. This time is widely regarded as the best period of pregnancy, as you get all the benefits, including a ravenous appetite and glowing skin, while the baby bump has still not been formed. However, it might not be all smooth sailing in some cases, as you may even find yourself unable to stomach food and bent over the toilet bowl many times.

What Causes Loss of Appetite?

The second trimester is widely regarded as the most important one, as the major development of the foetus takes place during this period. Therefore, adequate nutritional intake is a must, for the health of the foetus. It is during this period that you have to eat for two, considering the health of the child. Loss of appetite in mothers is not ideal, as the development of the baby may be directly affected by it.

At this stage, loss of appetite usually occurs due to the slowing down of the digestive system. With the uterus becoming increasingly larger in the lower abdomen region, it exerts pressure on the stomach and digestive system. This leads to constipation and loss of appetite. Progesterone levels in the mother also increase during this time, and result in constipation and not feeling hungry during pregnancy.

Ways to Get Through Appetite Loss in Mid-Pregnancy

  • The habits formed in the first trimester may be hard to continue, but you must keep up with them regardless of how difficult they are.
  • Drinking water remains as crucial as ever, along with the practice of keeping with small meals instead of large ones.
  • Calcium needs to be had adequately, for the development of the foetus. Along with protein and folates, it constitutes the three most important vitamin and mineral intakes the mother should remember to consume daily.
  • Leafy vegetables can help ease constipation, and settle your stomach well.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids can help the development of the brain of the foetus, so it is an excellent addition to your existing nutritional intake.
  • Engage in mindful eating techniques, such as paying attention to the sensations of hunger and fullness, savouring each bite, and eating in a calm and relaxed environment. 
  • You can try out certain scents, such as citrus, peppermint, or ginger, which have been found to stimulate appetite. 
  • In addition to seeking support from a healthcare professional, you can also consider consulting a naturopathic doctor specialising in natural medicine.

Pregnant woman drinking water

Loss of Hunger in the Third Trimester

By the third trimester, you quickly become a full-fledged stereotypical pregnant woman, complete with a growing belly and a ravenous appetite. However, this does not mean that you can eat away to your heart’s content, as you find that even though you are hungry, your appetite has diminished considerably. The good part is that nausea usually disappears by this time, and is replaced by a large belly. You can consult your doctor if loss of appetite in the third trimester is accompanied by other gastrointestinal symptoms or fever.

What Causes Loss of Appetite?

In this stage of pregnancy, it is your growing belly that causes the loss of appetite. The uterus has grown large by this time and leaves very less space for the adjacent organs to function. Organs like the stomach and small intestine are pushed out of their normal place and do not function normally, as a result.

Heartburn is another side effect of this displacement, and it gives you a sense of aversion to spicy or citrus-filled food items. Progesterone-Induced constipation remains in the mother and also contributes to the loss of appetite. It is a combination of all these factors which makes the mother incapable of filling up to her heart’s content, during the third trimester.

Tips to Combat Loss of Hunger in the Last Trimester

  • Small meals should be continued with, as they help you stay full and get your fill of the required nutrients.
  • Another major thing to remember is to stock up on food items rich in fibre, like bread, avocado, and leafy greens. This helps you improve digestion, and reduce the feeling of constipation.

Pregnant woman eating greens

When to Consult the Doctor?

  • If the mother feels a loss of appetite even if she has followed the steps as mentioned above, it might be an indication of dehydration, fewer nutrients for the baby, or even negative effects in the growth and development of the baby. This definitely warrants a visit to your OB/GYN, as soon as possible.
  • The most important thing to remember is that there is no harm in getting an external opinion, even it does not seem warranted. Continued symptoms of light-headedness or inability to retain food may be symptoms of some bigger problem, so visit the doctor if you ever get doubtful!

Losing appetite while pregnant is more common than it is made out to be. The feeling may occur at any time of pregnancy, usually within four weeks of gestation. Food items that previously were favourites are now discarded. This is due to the many hormonal changes that occur within the female body, during the time of pregnancy. Listen to your body and respond to the hunger cues and you are sure to get all the nutrition you need at every stage of pregnancy.


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6. Ahmadi. R, Ziaei. S, Parsay. S, et al.; Association between Nutritional Status with Spontaneous Abortion; Pub Med Central;; November 2016

Also Read: 

How Safe Are Painkillers in Pregnancy?
Increased Hunger during Pregnancy
Effects of Not Eating Enough while Pregnant

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