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Loss of appetite during pregnancy is quite common during pregnancy, where many women are found running away from their favorite food or them failing to bring themselves to eat even in spite of being hungry.
Does this sound like you? Are these symptoms familiar? If yes, you are facing a lost appetite during pregnancy. We’re sure this might have come across as daunting and you thinking of as if the morning sickness was anything less.
However, we at Parenthood Bliss would like to assure you that we’re here with this article to help you find answers to it all. Be it you dealing with these symptoms, or you wanting to know of the possible reasons for the small meals, tips for treating it, and when is it time to visit a health professional. Read on and know it all.
What causes the loss of appetite during early pregnancy ?
Firstly, mother-to-be must know that their fluctuating loss of appetite is absolutely normal, especially as their body undergoes numerous physical and hormonal changes.
Women experience a general disinterest in all the foods or lack the desire to eat. The highlight is that it is different from the aversion to a few specific foods that are fairly common during pregnancy.
Here are a few factors that affect the loss of appetite during pregnancy:
1) Vomiting and Nausea
These are common symptoms in a pregnant woman, specifically in her first trimester. However, many women experience this throughout their pregnancy. It also causes both mild and extreme cases of nausea and vomiting, which affect the intake of food, as well as the appetite.
According to researchers, the fluctuations in the hormones, such as leptin and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) cause a decrease in appetite and an increase in nausea and vomiting. Also, observed by a study of 2,270 pregnant women, most demonstrated moderate or severe nausea and vomiting of 42% and 70% respectively, with a reduced level of food intake in early pregnancy.
In this case, try avoiding fatty or spicy foods, have fluids post your meals, and eat small frequent meals. Choose to eat dry, and salty snacks such as crackers and pretzels, and bland foods portions like baked chicken breast instead.
But, if nausea and vomiting worsen, contact your health care provider.
2) Mental health conditions
Mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression could affect your appetite due to various physical and biochemical changes. This may lead to altered eating habits such as a decreased appetite and nutrient-dense foods.
As per health information, amongst 94 pregnant women, 51% with a diagnosed depression tend to have a poor dietary intake that rather increased by 71% post 6 months.
It is also amusing how this focuses on a decrease in appetite in healthy foods and rather increases for unhealthy foods resulting in lower intakes of nutrients like fatty acids, folate, iron, and zinc, affecting both, fetal and maternal health.
Medications that are safe during pregnancy are at times the cause behind you feeling full. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft, Olanzapine, buprenorphine, and Prozac that are prescribed for women with depression or anxiety. These SSRIs cause a decrease in appetite, with some reporting a complete loss of appetite, ‘feel full’, and weight loss.
4) Disordered eating
Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia cause a loss in appetite in about 0.6–27.8% of pregnant women. This disorder can also lead to a phobia of weight gain too. In this case, contact your healthcare provider for the required treatment.
5) Other potential causes
Other potential causes include medical conditions like tumors, constipation, heartburn, Addison’s disease, and high levels of stress. Or, the appetite during pregnancy could be hindered by pregnancy-related changes in regards to taste, smell, nutrient deficiencies in vitamin B12 and iron, and other general discomforts from carrying the baby.
How to treat the loss of appetite ?
Here are a few ways to help treat the loss of appetite and get back on track:
Prioritize certain foods
These foods are simple to prepare, make in small portion sizes, are filling, and easy on the stomach.
- Protein-rich snacks: Such as hard-boiled eggs, roasted chickpeas, cheese crackers, Greek yogurt, sliced chicken, turkey, or ham served cold.
- Bland, fiber-packed veggies: Like sweet potatoes, green beans, baby carrots (steamed or raw), and raw spinach salad.
- Sweet, simple bites: Like oatmeal, fresh berries, dried fruit, and plain cottage cheese.
- Bland grains/starches: Pasta, Quinoa, brown rice, cheese, macaroni, and baked or mashed potato.
- Soup and liquids: Such as chicken noodle soup, simple broths, chicken rice soup, and healthy smoothies.
- If the decrease in appetite is linked to nausea or vomiting, try small meals more frequently, and avoid spicy and fatty foods, supplementing with ginger tea and thiamine. The other treatment could be acupuncture.
- If it’s a nutrient deficiency, try high-dose supplements consulted by the healthcare professional to restore the appetite.
Do you consider loss of appetite during pregnancy 1st trimester
The appetite loss in pregnancy does not generally link to a particular trimester but is caused due to an imbalance in the hormones. And, if you are experiencing an occasional appetite loss for specific foods, there is usually no need to worry as long as you’re having enough nutrients regularly. Also, most pregnant women may experience a loss in their appetite for specific foods with high fragrant foods and meat. Yet, this is a common occurrence and not a cause for concern.
Perhaps, if the expecting moms are regularly skipping meals or have lost their appetite for more than a day, contact the practitioner for advice immediately. As, it is important to get enough nutrients to support the health of both, the maternal and fetal.
Not consuming in the right manner could indulge many pregnancy-related complications like poor fetal growth, risk of anemia, fetal growth abnormalities, preterm birth, low birth weight, and maternal weight loss which is also associated with lower mental function and behavioral problems in the future for the baby.
This is why it is important for the mother to sustain a healthy pregnancy via both macronutrients and micronutrients in their diet.
Once your body adjusts to pregnancy, it is normal to find certain foods to be unappealing or you may experience a loss in your appetite. However, these appetite losses are quite common and are linked to other symptoms like nausea and vomiting that cause fluctuating appetite.
All you need to do is, maintain the nutrients level and try to eat small servings of bland foods that are filling, rich in nutrients, and easy on the stomach.
However, if you are experiencing long-lasting or chronic appetite loss, consult your doctor for individualized treatment.
Loss Of Appetite During Pregnancy FAQs
1) Is it normal to lose your appetite in early pregnancy ?
2) How long can I go without consuming food during pregnancy?
3) How can I increase my appetite during pregnancy ?