Appetite loss during pregnancy: why it happens and how to tackle it
Losing appetite during pregnancy is not uncommon, especially during the first trimester, when a lot of women experience morning sickness as well as other pregnancy complications. It can a stressful scenario since you must have heard a million times how eating well is necessary for your wellbeing and the growth of the foetus. So, appetite loss can truly add on to the havoc created by the hormonal changes during this delicate phase. Plus, you must also know that gaining a healthy weight is essential for the development of your baby. So, if you are not eating enough, weight gain goes for a toss too! Not to worry though, as appetite loss is a common thing that happens during the first trimester of pregnancy. You just need to understand why it happens and how to tackle it. So, let’s get started.< /p>
Causes of low appetite or loss of appetite during pregnancy
- What happens during the first trimester or the first 3 months?
This is when your pregnancy gets confirmed and you are delighted. Soon, your body starts preparing to accommodate a new life in the womb. During the first few months, you are likely to experience morning sickness, which strikes with regular episodes of nausea and vomiting. Almost all women go through this phase. So, it is naturally difficult to maintain a healthy appetite during this period. Your body reacts to all kinds of food, smells, and tastes. Actually, it is your body’s natural response to prevent harmful foods from entering your system. The hormone levels will be fluctuating a lot during the first 3 months too, increasing your sensitivity to various smells and tastes. Interestingly, you will also develop strong cravings during this phase.
- What happens during the 2nd trimester or 4-6 months of pregnancy? Your baby bump just starts to emerge during the 2nd trimester. This is when most women get their appetites back. Since the baby is also dependent on you for food and nutrition, your appetite should ideally increase. Appetite loss has, however, been observed in some women even during the 2nd trimester, in which case, medical intervention might be necessary.
- What happens during the 3rd trimester or 7-9 months of pregnancy?
During the third trimester, your belly will grow completely to accommodate your baby, and your nutrient requirements will also increase significantly. The growing foetus will put pressure on many of your organs, including your stomach, which can increase heartburn and acidity. The constant reflux can reduce your appetite. Hormones might also trigger constipation, reducing your urge to eat more. However, appetite loss in pregnancy during this period can be harmful as you are just months or days away from delivering the baby.
How can appetite loss affect your pregnancy?
- Impact on the mother
Lack of appetite or loss of appetite can make you anorexic, leading to a decrease in your body weight, and thereby, your body mass index (BMI). A poor diet can also make you more susceptible to a host of infections during pregnancy, which can be very risky for your baby. You might become vulnerable to miscarriage, abortion, formation of clots, excessive bleeding after delivery, and many other complications. Moreover, it can also affect your digestive processes and have an adverse psychological impact.
- Impact on the baby
Loss of appetite can have a harmful effect on the baby too, for obvious reasons. Your baby might suffer from low birth weight, smaller than normal head circumference, increased risk of microcephaly (smaller head size) and might be small for his gestational age. The child might also suffer from anaemia, and the risk of premature birth or perinatal death might be high.
Thus, it is important that you consume adequate food at regular intervals to obtain the right nutrition for your own needs and the needs of the baby. So, it is vital to find ways to maintain a healthy appetite.
Tips to improve appetite during pregnancy
Improving appetite during the 1st trimester
- Drink plenty of fluids: Ensure that you have about 8-10 glasses of water a day. You can have warm water with a pinch of lemon juice or you can opt for lemon tea in case you feel nauseated.
- Do not overeat: You can have about 6 small meals a day to satiate yourself, but you should avoid overeating on the pretext of fulfilling nutrient requirements.
- Eat lightly: Consume plenty of food items that are rich in proteins as well as carbohydrates, which will help stabilise blood sugar levels. Fresh fruits, yoghurt, and whole grains are ideal.
- Avoid strong-smelling foods: You must avoid spicy and fat-rich foods. Fast foods and deep-fried foods should also be avoided.
- Vitamins: Include plenty of vitamin-rich foods or have vitamin supplements after consulting a doctor.
Improving appetite during the 2nd trimester
During the second trimester, you must follow all the measures suggested for the first trimester. Additionally, you must ensure that the following nutrients are taken in adequate quantities through foods or supplements.
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Improving appetite during the 3rd trimester
- Have smaller and frequent meals: Having small and frequent meals will help you stay full and satiated and also help you obtain all the essential nutrients. However, you must remember to gain useful calories and avoid empty calories present in sugary drinks or sugary treats.
- Consume a fibre-rich diet: Consumption of whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and fresh fruits will provide fibre in adequate quantities. This will enable optimal metabolism, proper digestion and prevent constipation.
Loss of appetite during pregnancy is common as many women experience it due to the frequent episodes of nausea and also due to the effects of hormones. Although it might seem like a challenge, the above tips should help you consume the sufficient amount of food on a regular basis. If the problem still persists despite your best efforts, you should consult your doctor and get advice. Remember, avoiding food is not the solution. You and your baby both need food and nutrition during this crucial period.