Dealing With Loss of Appetite During Pregnancy

Updated on December 31st, 2020
How to Manage Appetite Loss During Pregnancy

The depiction of pregnancy in mainstream media sometimes falls short of the several intricacies linked with motherhood in real life. One such instance is depicting the hungry mother, whose voracious appetite is humorously shown to be much larger than that of an average human being.

After seeing these comical characterizations of hungry mothers who gorge on everything from raw pickles to pizzas, expectant mothers may be shell-shocked from the feelings they experience in the actual world.

Several people may be thinking that they have a free license to indulge all they want, considering that pregnancy is the only time in an adult woman’s life where eating is encouraged and does not impart any remorse.

However, it is then that appetite loss generally strikes- the woman may then find herself getting nauseous at the smell and sight of their favorite food items [1].

Time Frame

Appetite loss can occur at any time during pregnancy; for many women, it’s one of the earliest symptoms. In their book “What To Expect When You’re Expecting,” Sharon Mazel and Heidi Murkoff explain that vomiting and nausea can start quite early in pregnancy; some women experience these symptoms as early as the 4th week of gestation.

Many women feel put off by foods that were once their favorites during the initial trimester. Many have difficulty keeping anything down at all, combined with a lack of desire to eat anything that might trigger nausea [2].


Few women find that their appetite improves during the 2nd trimester. Many symptoms common to the 1st-trimester resolve during the 2nd, only to return during the 3rd.

Women in their 3rd trimesters of pregnancy may not have much of an appetite because their increasingly large baby pushes against their stomach, lessening its capacity and making it tough to eat anything more than a few bites at a time [3].


Baby size and hormones aren’t the only reasons for a woman to feel like she doesn’t have much appetite during pregnancy. Several women have intestinal gas due to the digestive tract’s slowing, which can make the stomach feel distended and full.

Further, the upper stomach sphincter relaxes during pregnancy, meaning that stomach acid is a general complaint of the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Since eating often aggravates acid stomach discomfort, women may feel like they don’t want to eat to avoid symptoms [4].

Expert Insight

Several women fear that having little appetite during pregnancy will adversely affect their developing babies. In general, limited appetite during the 1st trimester isn’t an issue.  Some women eat so little as to shed weight during their initial 3 months.

Later in pregnancy, many women recover enough to make up for the lost weight and gain properly throughout the rest of the pregnancy.

For women with severe appetite loss, physicians may prescribe vitamins to prevent severe deficits.  Regardless of hunger, pregnant women do need to ensure that they’re drinking plenty of water, so they’re maintaining adequate hydration.

How to Manage Appetite Loss During Pregnancy

If you’re experiencing appetite loss, you may speculate how to get your eating back on track.

1. Foods to prioritize

You can prioritize a few foods, even if you feel you can’t eat whole meals. These will help ensure sufficient nutrient intake for your baby and you. Most of the following foods are small in portion size, simple to make, filling and easy on your stomach.

2. Protein-rich snacks

Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, crackers and cheese, and turkey, sliced chicken, or ham served cold

[Read: List of High Protein Snacks]

3. Bland, fiber-packed veggies 

Green beans, sweet potatoes, baby carrots (raw or steamed), and raw spinach salad Sweet, simple bites: oatmeal, fresh berries, cold dairy products like plain cottage cheese and dried fruit

4. Starches/bland grains

brown rice, quinoa, macaroni, pasta,  and cheese, and mashed or baked potato

Soup: chicken rice soup and chicken noodle soup 

Liquids: healthy smoothies and simple broths 

Other strategies

If your appetite loss is related to vomiting or nausea, try eating small, more frequent meals, avoiding fatty and spicy foods, and supplementing with thiamine and ginger. If acupuncture is a choice for you, it can also help. Severe vomiting and nausea may require different treatment methods, including medications and intravenous (IV) fluids.

If you have nutrient deficiencies related to appetite loss, you may need high-dose supplements to bring back normal levels. Any supplements should be monitored and prescribed by a medical professional.

You may also consult your medical practitioner for individualized treatment.

When to be concerned

Suppose you’re experiencing occasional appetite loss or a loss of appetite for specific foods. In that case, there’s usually no need to worry as long as you’re consuming adequate nutrients daily.

For instance, if you’re eating nutrient-dense meals consistently and your weight gain is appropriate to promote fetal growth, occasional appetite loss should not be a worry.

Moreover, some pregnant women may lose their appetite for specific foods, including highly fragrant meat and foods. Yet, this is not typically a cause for concern and a relatively common occurrence.

However, if you lose your appetite for more than a day, you’re regularly skipping meals or, you should contact your medical practitioner for advice.

This is because it’s crucial to get adequate nutrients to support your growing baby’s health and your health. Potential complications related to inadequate intake during pregnancy

Undernutrition can lead to several pregnancy-related complications, including low birth weight, poor fetal growth, and maternal weight loss. It’s also linked with behavioral problems and lower mental function in children.

Both micronutrients and macronutrients are essential to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women with chronically poor appetites run a risk of fetal growth abnormalities, anemia, and preterm birth.

Bottom Line

Appetite loss during early pregnancy is more prevalent than it is made out to be. The feeling may arise at any time of pregnancy and generally happens within 4 weeks of gestation. Food items that previously were favorites are now discarded.

This is due to the several hormonal changes that occur within the female body during the time of pregnancy. Listen to the 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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