What Can I Do if I Have No Appetite During Pregnancy?

What can you do if you have no appetite during pregnancy? We'll explain the causes of loss of appetite and what you can do about it.
What Can I Do if I Have No Appetite During Pregnancy?

Last update: 11 January, 2022

“Before, the only thing that went through my mind was eating, but now I’m not hungry. If no one offers me food or I don’t force myself to eat, I could go the whole day without eating anything.” Why is it that many mothers experience loss of appetite during pregnancy and are scared that something may be wrong? What can you do if pregnancy has taken away your appetite?

All changes are scary, especially when you have a developing being in your care, but sometimes the body itself experiences anxiety about eating or the opposite. There’s no reason to be scared, this is something that happens many times as the baby adjusts its position. On occasion, this can cause loss of appetite.

Causes of a loss of appetite during pregnancy

Undoubtedly, the most frequent causes of this symptom in pregnant women are, on the one hand, the increase in the pregnancy hormone, gonadotropin, as well as the relaxation of the stomach muscles, constipation, some infections, and even psychological issues.

During the gestation period, large amounts of these hormones are produced in women: Human chorionic gonadotropin, estrogen, progesterone, and chorionic somatotropin, as their levels are essential for the survival of the pregnancy.

All these hormones have a certain effect on the intestine, reducing peristalsis and causing constipation. In turn, constipation can cause abdominal bloating, which could explain the discomfort and decreased appetite.

In the first few months, with nausea and vomiting, you usually lose your appetite, according to an article published in the journal “Autonomic Neuroscience.” At the same time, the appetite may decrease in the second and third trimesters due to the increase in the size of the baby. It will exert a mechanical effect on the intestine, further reducing motility and worsening constipation.

As the baby grows inside the womb, the muscles of the stomach area relax at the same time. Therefore, despite the fact that the woman eats little, she will feel satiated and even overly full and won’t want to eat anything else. Undoubtedly, the great changes that your body is experiencing can cause some consequences, such as this lack of appetite.

Finally, pregnancy can produce various psychological alterations in the mother. Many women fear that they’ll gain excess weight, so their appetite may subconsciously decrease.

A woman biting into a green apple.

Suggestions

Although a loss of appetite during pregnancy is due to different factors as already explained, you should never stop eating, as your baby is developing and needs to be nourished. So, what can you do if pregnancy has taken away your appetite?

  • The first recommendation is to inform your doctor of these changes, as he’ll surely recommend some nutritional supplements and not stop eating.
  • It should also be taken into account that, during the summer the famous spring asthenia causes more thirst. Because of the heat, one drinks more water and this sometimes replaces hunger. Instead of just drinking water, you can eat fruits such as watermelon, melon, or oranges, and salads. You’ll be able to refresh yourself, but at the same time, you’ll be providing nutrients to your body.
  • A good diet will achieve a healthy and strong baby, so it’s important that, instead of eating by chance, you should plan what you’re going to eat and what nutrients you’ll provide your baby.
  • You can divide the servings into small amounts so that you eat more times throughout the day but in smaller amounts.
  • Try to vary your menu. Always eating the same thing usually doesn’t make the body want to eat. So, just by varying your salads or perhaps their presentation, this will cause a stimulus to the brain, and therefore, your body will feel hungry.
A woman eating a fresh salad.

Other useful strategies

  • As for food, it is advisable to avoid eggs, fatty and spicy foods, giving priority to a diet rich in green leafy vegetables and foods rich in fiber. Regarding drinks, it is best to drink water, infusions or natural juices, avoiding sodas or sugary drinks that fill the stomach too much, especially before meals.
  • You do not have to follow a schedule, eat whenever you are hungry in a relaxed environment and with good company.
  • To avoid loss of appetite, it is also preferable to drink liquids outside of meals, since the stomach space must be used for food.
  • Eat lots of fiber, fruits, and vegetables. Sometimes the problems of loss of appetite have to do with constipation and a good diet will help you have a clean intestine, according to a study published in the journal “Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.”

Appetite may be reduced during pregnancy

In the early stages of pregnancy, your appetite may be reduced. However, your need to carry out a series of measures to guarantee a minimum intake of nutrients. This way, the nutritional needs of the mother and the baby that’s developing within her will be satisfied.

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  • Bustos M., Venkataramanan R., Caritis S., Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy – what’s new? Auton Neurosci, 2017. 202: 62-72.
  • Christodoulides S., Dimidi E., Fragkos KC., Farmer AD., et al., Systematic review with meta analysis: effect of fibre supplementation on chronic idiopathic constipation in adults. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2016. 44 (2): 103-16.