Are you concerned about extreme hunger during pregnancy first trimester? Do you feel an irresistible urge to eat all the time? Did you just have your breakfast and you are already hungry for lunch? Does your stomach feel like a bottomless pit? Is it making you worry about your weight?
Do not worry. Hunger during pregnancy first trimester is a normal and expected occurrence. However, there are ways that can help you reduce excessive hunger and appetite.
What is the first trimester of pregnancy?
A normal full-term pregnancy lasts for about 9 months or 40 weeks. For convenience, we divide it into three trimesters. Each trimester has its own specific hormonal and physiological changes taking place. The first trimester is between conception (when embryo implants in the uterus) and 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is a very crucial period. It is the period of formation of major organs of your baby.
The second trimester lasts from 12 to 24 weeks. While the third trimester is from the 24th week to the time your baby is born.
Is hunger during pregnancy first trimester normal?
The first trimester of your pregnancy does not cause any considerable change in your outward appearance usually and your pregnancy doesn’t get noticed. However, the foundation for the growth of your baby is being laid within your body. Your baby’s major organs are developing already. And the tiny being inside you needs nutrition. So it is completely normal to feel hungry.
Is constant hunger a sign of pregnancy?
Most women do not feel start feeling hungry at a very early stage. Constant hunger is not a sign that you are pregnant unless it is coupled with other important parameters such as missed period, abdominal cramps, breast tenderness, and mood swings.
According to a survey by the American Pregnancy Association on the earliest signs of pregnancy, 29% of women reported missed period, 25% nausea, and 17% changes in the breast. Constant hunger is not one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. It peaks in the second trimester.
Also Read: When Do Pregnancy Cravings Start?
Why do many women not feel hungry during the first trimester?
Though hunger during pregnancy first trimester is completely normal, many women do not feel hungry in early pregnancy. The first trimester of your pregnancy is mainly characterized by morning sickness. This is caused by the excess of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and progesterone rushing in your body. The hCG is the pregnancy hormone secreted by your placenta and is also the basis of most pregnancy tests (also read about 10 Homemade Pregnancy Tests). Its levels keep rising during the first trimester.
Therefore, it causes loss of appetite in 70% to 85% of women battling morning sickness in the first trimester of pregnancy. According to some people, it is your body’s natural way of protecting the fetus from harmful food items that the mother might have taken. In any case, there is nothing to worry about if you do not feel like eating a lot. Most women don’t.
What is the cause of hunger during pregnancy first trimester?
However, some women experience a voracious appetite. They feel like eating all the time. For them, the first trimester becomes an odd combination of feeling nauseated and ravenous at the same time!
Nutritional demands of the fetus
One of the reasons for the hunger during pregnancy first trimester is that the tiny living thing growing in your body is demanding nutrition. It needs nutrients to grow its various organs. And it’s definitely making sure that you get the message loud and clear!
Compensation for food lost in vomiting
A major reason for hunger during pregnancy first trimester is that most women experience vomiting during pregnancy. The food you eat is not being absorbed by the body. Thus you do need more food to make up for it. This is why you experience hunger pangs.
Also Read: 10 Things To Avoid During Pregnancy
What are hunger pangs?
Does your stomach rumble? Do you feel contractions and pain in the upper abdomen? Well, these are hunger pangs; your body’s way of telling you that your stomach is empty.
What causes hunger pangs?
When your stomach is empty, the inner linings of the stomach become irritated and exposed. This causes them to rub together and create this sensation of pain.
In early pregnancy, morning sickness often causes vomiting. When you throw up, your stomach becomes empty. This is the reason for hunger hangs experienced by pregnant women, and they consume large amounts of food.
How to avoid hunger pangs?
To avoid hunger pangs, make sure your stomach is never hungry.
- Do not stay hungry for more than 2-3 hours.
- Eat small meals frequently rather than large meals at a time.
- Stay hydrated but do not drink so much water that stretches your stomach lining.
- Carry healthy snacks everywhere you go.
- Ensure that you always have a stock of healthy food options in your fridge so that you don’t have to stay hungry for longer durations of time.
- Eat slowly and take extra time for chewing.
- Accept cravings but make them constructive.
- Keep yourself busy.
Also Read: Is It Safe To Eat Hot Dogs During Pregnancy?
Does your hunger have anything to do with your pre-pregnancy weight?
Do you feel hungrier if you have greater weight before pregnancy? How does your pre-pregnancy weight affect your hunger and eating habits in pregnancy?
A 2020 research on changes in eating behavior throughout pregnancy investigated the relationship between eating behaviors and gestational weight gain. It concluded that the changes in eating behavior during pregnancy are not associated with pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index (BMI).
Although having a high BMI can cause other complications, so it is best to conceive at an ideal weight. The healthy BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Does increasing hunger during pregnancy first trimester indicate a twin pregnancy?
Can you tell if you are pregnant with twins by your appetite? Well, even if you are conceiving twins, you may not experience hunger during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is because of the hCG being released in your body that makes you feel nauseated. You may have little or no appetite. The pregnancy hormones lower your digestive tract motility, creating a feeling of fullness for a longer time.
As your pregnancy progresses to the next trimester, obviously two babies require more nutrition than a single baby, and you’ll feel intense hunger pangs. They will just remind you to eat more. However, by this time, you’ll already know that you are pregnant with twins by an ultrasound exam.
Hunger during Pregnancy First Trimester and Dangers of Being Obese
Hunger during pregnancy first trimester can cause you to consume very large quantities of food which increases the risk of obesity. While it is important to consume enough for your baby to survive, you need to be aware of the extra calories you really need. Otherwise, too much food intake increases BMI and causes obesity. It can cause many complications:
- Risk of miscarriage
- Difficult vaginal delivery and need for a C-section
- Gestational diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Preeclampsia (Severe high blood pressure and damage to vital organs)
- Cardiac dysfunction
- Deep Venous Thrombosis (blood clots in legs)
- Birth defects in babies (Also Read about Premature Baby Complications)
- Asthma and obesity in the baby
Also Read: Health Risks in First Pregnancy
How to combat hunger and control your weight gain?
Pregnancy is probably the only time in your life when nobody tells you to eat less and stay fit. You feel free to satisfy your hunger and eat large amounts of food without any guilt. But you need to control your weight.
Bust the Myth of Eating For Two
Many women believe that now that they are pregnant, they need to eat for two individuals. And their families also keep pressurizing them to consume large quantities of food. Do you really need those calories? Elizabeth Ward, dietician and author of “Pregnancy Nutrition: Good Health for You and Your Baby” says, “Do not worry about getting enough nutrition during the first trimester if you do not have much of an appetite either, because nutritional needs of the fetus are still minimal.”
Thus you really need to be sensible about portions. “One for me, one for the baby” rule doesn’t apply. Come on, your baby is much smaller than you. You need extra nutrition, but that does not mean doubling your calorie intake.
Also Read: Is Pregnancy Wheel Calculator Reliable?
Always stay hydrated
You are likely to confuse dehydration with hunger. Drink 12 to 13 cups of water per day. Drink more water if it is too hot or you are sweating a lot. However, very large quantities of water stretch your stomach lining and increase hunger pangs.
Avoid soda drinks that have high calories and sugar content.
Address weight dilemmas early
It is important to keep a check on your weight gain as early as possible. Typically weight gain is 6-11 pounds in the first trimester.
A 2014 study supported by the Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that women who sought advice between weeks 7 and 21 were less likely to gain excess weight during the third trimester.
Eat a low-calorie, nutritious diet
Eat a healthy pregnancy diet. Make sure you eat nutritious food with all the essential nutrients i.e. folate, calcium, iron, zinc, and fiber. Focus on food that contains a high amount of protein and fiber that makes you feel full for longer times. Take fresh food items instead of processed ones.
- Whole grains have lots of fiber and vitamins.
- Dairy products provide you with sufficient protein and calcium. However, eat low-fat dairy products. Yogurt in particular has high amounts of Calcium and supports digestive health.
- Legumes are great for both the mother and the child, especially during the first trimester.
- Salmon is very rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Consuming 2-3 fish meals per week is recommended.
- Add fruit to your diet especially a citrus fruit which is a source of Vitamin C. Berries are also recommended.
- Consume a variety of vegetables. Your plate should be a rainbow of dark green (spinach, broccoli, kale), orange (carrots, pumpkins), yellow (corn), and red (tomatoes). Sweet potatoes contain fibers that increase fullness and reduce blood sugar spikes.
Avoid the temptation of high-calorie intake
You do not need any new calories during the first trimester according to the official guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
However, during the second trimester, you may need 350 extra calories daily. The calorie requirement increases to 500 extra calories daily during the third trimester.
To avoid temptations, you can treat yourself with a high-calorie meal that you crave once in a while. But strictly stick to nutritious food afterward.
Eat small but infrequent meals
Rather than eating 3 heavy meals, it is better to have 6 or even smaller meals. You won’t reach your starvation point. And you are less likely to overeat.
Also Read: How Do Babies Get Hiccups in the Womb?
The hungrier you are, the greater the chances of having a boy?
You must have heard the old wives’ tale that your appetite can tell if it is a boy or a girl. In this modern era of science, when many such theories of predicting the gender of the baby by the heartbeat have been discarded by the scientists, this theory of the relationship between appetite and gender is backed up by modern studies. The hungrier the mother, the more chances of the baby being a boy.
Harvard researchers led by Rulla M. Tamimi have found that pregnant women carrying boys eat 10% more than women carrying girls. This study was performed on 244 pregnant women published in the British Medical Journal. However, the extra food intake did not have much impact on the weight gain of expecting mothers.
When will the hunger go away?
You may or may not feel hungry in early pregnancy. However, the appetite increases and reaches its peak in the second trimester. But do not worry, it will subside in the third trimester. Because the baby becomes very big and your stomach does not have enough capacity to hold food.
Hunger during pregnancy first trimester is completely normal. After all, you are growing a new human being inside you. You will navigate the bumpy road of cravings and aversions, and you do not need a lot of extra calories during the first trimester. Do NOT eat for two. Eat healthy food but keep a check on your weight!
Also Read: Why Do I Crave Pickles During Pregnancy?