An appetite decrease during pregnancy is very common, particularly in the first trimester. If you are feeling thrown off by the change in appetite, know that you are not alone and there are some solutions you can try to help you get the nutrients you need and feel better. This is one of the most commonly discussed pregnancy symptoms, yet when you’re going through it, it can feel totally isolating and solution-less. We’re here to help you understand what is going on in your body and what you can do about it.
The four main causes of decreased appetite during pregnancy:
This involves nausea and for some, vomiting. Morning sickness may cause a decrease in appetite because it is (understandably) very difficult to eat when you aren’t feeling well.
It is not well understood why, but for some people, certain foods become intolerable during pregnancy. Even if you enjoyed them before! Food aversions can make it harder to eat a diverse diet, or sometimes, entire food groups (commonly, meat).
Heightened sense of smell
This involves sensitivity to smells of all kinds, environmental, culinary, and even personal. For some, their partner’s natural scent becomes difficult to tolerate. Often going hand-in-hand with morning sickness and food aversions, a heightened sense of smell can easily contribute to a loss of appetite.
The growing baby
Most common later in pregnancy, as your uterus starts to take up the majority of your abdomen, it will begin to press upwards on your stomach. This can cause you to feel full sooner than normal so it may be helpful to eat smaller, more frequent meals. It can also cause reflux which can decrease your appetite for sure.
There are many ways to stay nourished even with decreased appetite while you are pregnant. Here are a few tips to get your started:
Many people worry that they’re not getting a balanced enough diet in early pregnancy because of food aversions. Often, vegetables and meat sound terrible while fruits and breads are calming to the stomach. Rest assured that baby will take what is needed from you during this time. And your tastes and preferences won’t be limited forever – they may even change week to week. So eat what sounds good because an empty stomach makes the nausea and fatigue worse.
Staying hydrated can be challenging when water doesn’t sound good or your stomach feels constantly full. Put some flavoring into your water, shake it up with some bubbly water, and add ice. Cold drinks tend to soothe sick stomachs better than room temperature ones. Sometimes a splash of fruit juice is enough to jog your hunger cues. And ginger tea with a spoonful of honey can be the perfect bedtime drink to calm your stomach.
Try to continue taking your prenatal vitamins if you can tolerate them. For many, taking them at night is better because they can be hard on your stomach. So first thing in the morning is not great timing if you’re looking to increase your appetite. Often if taken at night, you’ll sleep through any stomach upset and still get the benefits of taking the vitamins!
It’s a good idea to reach out to your healthcare provider if you are consistently:
- Losing large amounts of weight
- Unable to keep down food and/or fluids
- Feeling lightheaded
Remember, what you are experiencing is very normal. And, while this may be physically and perhaps emotionally uncomfortable, you aren’t stuck or alone. Your providers and other support networks are here to help.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- E Ernst, MH Pittler. “Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.” British Journal of Anaesthesia. 84(3):367-71. Web. Mar-00.
- “Some tips to deal with pregnancy nausea and vomiting.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Aug 2008. Web. Accessed 6/28/17. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-blog/pregnancy-nausea/bgp-20055827.
- TM Bayley, et al. “Food cravings and aversions during pregnancy: relationships with nausea and vomiting.” Appetite. 38(1):45-51. Web. Feb 2002. Accessed 6/28/17.