To keep you and your growing baby healthy, it’s important to watch out for symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant.
If pregnancy has affected your relationship with food, you’re not alone.
It’s common for your appetite to increase or decrease, and to instinctively or deliberately avoid certain foods.
While it’s possible to eat too much during pregnancy, it’s also possible to eat too little.
This can be quite dangerous, so it’s important to watch out for the symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant.
We’ll take you through the details.
In this article: 📝
- Is loss of appetite a sign of pregnancy?
- What causes your appetite to change during pregnancy?
- What are some of the signs that you’re not eating enough during pregnancy?
- What happens if I don’t eat enough while pregnant?
- How do I know if I’m eating enough during pregnancy?
Is loss of appetite a sign of pregnancy?
Yes, it can be.
If you haven’t been into your favorite snacks recently, that could be a sign you’re expecting!
Many women (both those who experience nausea and vomiting and those who don’t) can feel disinterested in food in the early days of pregnancy.
The changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy can cause nausea, vomiting, and other digestive issues that may mean you’re not feeling all that hungry right now.
But every pregnancy journey is different, and so some people might not experience a loss of appetite at all.
But here’s the catch ‒ while it’s normal to experience a change in appetite during pregnancy, it’s crucial to make sure you’re still getting enough nutrients for both you and your little one.
Not eating enough while pregnant can lead to a range of symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, and even premature birth.
So, if you’re worried about the symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant, have a chat with your healthcare provider about developing a healthy and balanced meal plan.
Remember, taking care of yourself during pregnancy is crucial, so don’t hesitate to ask for help!
What causes your appetite to change during pregnancy?
There are quite a few reasons you might experience changes in your appetite during pregnancy.
These can vary depending on where you’re at in your pregnancy.
So let’s find out together.
Not eating enough in the first trimester
Many women (about 70 to 80%, in fact) battle nausea and vomiting during their first trimester, some only at certain times of the day and a few almost all the time.
This, as you can imagine, can make you feel very disinterested in food.
The changes you’re going through hormonally can also affect your appetite.
Not eating enough in the second trimester
While your nausea may have subsided by now (if it hasn’t, be sure to chat to your doctor), your growing baby might be putting some pressure on your stomach.
This can make you feel uncomfortable enough not to eat.
The rise of progesterone ‒ a key sex hormone that supports pregnancy ‒ can also make you constipated, which might affect how appealing food sounds.
Not eating enough in the third trimester
Your squashed stomach and levels of constipation might get a little bit worse in your third trimester (sorry, mama!), and could continue to affect how hungry you feel.
Pregnancy can also be a difficult time.
Feeling depressed or anxious during your pregnancy (not just afterward, which tends to get quite a bit more attention) can also affect your appetite.
Another thing to be aware of is that a fear of gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also trigger disordered eating, whether you have a history of it or not.
If you’re struggling, it’s really important that you reach out for help.
You don’t have to go through these changes alone.
There are many organizations that can support you.
And your Peanut community is here for you wherever you’re at in your journey.
What are some of the signs that you’re not eating enough during pregnancy?
If you’re finding it difficult to tell whether you’re eating enough during your pregnancy, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
1. You’re not gaining weight
Gaining weight while you’re pregnant is healthy.
Women with an average BMI should gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, says the CDC.
If your weight is staying the same or dropping, talk to your doctor.
2. You’re hungry all the time
This might sound a little obvious, but if your body’s constantly giving you hunger cues, it might be because you’re not eating enough.
3. You’re constipated
Feeling constipated can be a sign that there isn’t enough food in your digestive system.
It can mean that what little food there is in your intestinal tract is moving quite slowly.
(It’s important to note that constipation and pregnancy go hand in hand anyway.
So just because you’re backed up, it doesn’t mean you’re not getting the food you need.
If you’re worried, chat with your healthcare provider to get to the source of your symptoms together and find relief.
4. You’re tired or not sleeping well
If your body doesn’t have enough food in it, you’ll likely battle to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Feeling constantly fatigued is also a sign that you’re lacking key nutrients.
5. Your hair and nails are weak
If your hair is thinning or falling out and your nails feel brittle, your body probably isn’t getting the nutrients it needs ‒ protein especially.
6. You’re getting sick all the time
Getting sick too often can also be a sign that your body doesn’t have the internal resources it needs to fight off the bugs that come your way.
It’s worth keeping an eye on how long it takes you to get better, too.
If your body takes ages to recover from a simple cold, your food intake might be the cause.
7. You feel cold all the time
A healthy body with a strong metabolism can regulate its core temperature well.
People who don’t eat enough food tend to feel colder more often.
8. You’re showing signs of iron deficiency
Anemia is a condition where you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body.
It may be caused by an iron deficiency which can be linked to various complications during pregnancy, including postpartum depression.
Low iron can also negatively affect your baby’s weight and development.
If you’re feeling fatigued and dizzy, or notice that your skin has a pale or yellowish color, talk to your doctor.
Other signs of iron deficiency anemia include shortness of breath and a desire to chew ice.
What happens if I don’t eat enough while pregnant?
So what happens if you don’t eat enough while pregnant?
Eating enough ‒ and enough of the right foods ‒ is important for you and your growing baby.
Not consuming enough calories and nutrients can leave you feeling fatigued and weak.
And let’s face it, pregnancy already has you feeling exhausted enough as it is, so you don’t need any extra help in that department.
But the effects of not eating enough during pregnancy go beyond just feeling tired.
It can also lead to an increased risk of complications, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and even premature birth.
These conditions can be dangerous for both you and your little one, so it’s essential to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.
Other symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant can include dizziness, constipation, and even depression.
And let’s be real, pregnancy is already emotional enough without adding on any extra stressors.
How long can you go without eating while pregnant?
The short answer: not very long.
Skipping meals or not eating enough during pregnancy can have some seriously unpleasant consequences.
Not only can it leave you feeling sluggish and weak, but it can also lead to a host of other symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant, like dizziness, constipation, and even depression.
But just how long can you go without eating before these symptoms start to kick in?
Well, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it’s generally recommended that pregnant women consume around 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day, depending on their individual needs.
Going without food for even just a few hours can leave you feeling the effects of not eating enough, especially if you’re in your second or third trimester.
But don’t worry, there’s good news too!
Your body is pretty smart, and it’s designed to provide your baby with the nutrients they need, even if you’re not consuming enough food.
However, this comes at a cost to you, as it can lead to symptoms like fatigue and weakness, and in severe cases, even premature birth.
So, what’s the bottom line here?
It’s simple: don’t skimp on the food, mama!
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential for both you and your little one.
And if you’re struggling to eat enough or have concerns about your diet during pregnancy, don’t be afraid to reach out to your healthcare provider for support and guidance.
They’re there to help you have the healthiest and happiest pregnancy possible!
Can lack of appetite during pregnancy affect the baby?
Yes, if you battle to eat nutrient-rich foods during your pregnancy, this could affect the health of your baby.
While it’s not uncommon to experience a decrease in appetite during pregnancy, it’s important to make sure you’re still getting enough nutrients to support your growing baby.
Not eating enough during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications like low birth weight, premature birth, developmental issues, or even getting sick more easily later in life.
But don’t fret, there are things you can do to make sure your baby is getting the nutrients they need, even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry.
Eating small, frequent meals throughout the day can help keep your energy levels up and provide your baby with a steady stream of nutrients.
And don’t forget to stay hydrated, as dehydration can also have negative effects on your pregnancy.
Can not eating enough cause a miscarriage?
It’s not likely, no.
While not eating enough during pregnancy can have negative effects on both you and your growing baby, the good news is that it is unlikely to cause a pregnancy loss.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities or other genetic factors, rather than by lifestyle choices like diet.
But it’s still important to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to support a healthy pregnancy.
Not eating enough during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications, such as preterm labor, low birth weight, and developmental issues.
How do I know if I’m eating enough during pregnancy?
If you’re feeling nauseated during large parts of your pregnancy, eating enough can be a real challenge.
If this is the case, make sure your doctor knows what you’re going through, mama.
They will be able to give you advice on how to get the nutrition you need.
You can also try to eat small, simple meals throughout the day that are full of fiber.
Think of leafy green veggies like spinach, kale, and broccoli, fresh fruit, whole grains, avocados, asparagus, and sunflower seeds.
These foods aren’t only full of the vitamins you need but may also help with constipation if that’s what you’re battling.
Drink lots of water and take your prenatal vitamins regularly, too.
They’ll help to give your body some added support if you’re battling to get the vitamins you need through your diet alone.
While some changes to your appetite and food preferences are totally normal, eating regularly and healthily throughout your pregnancy is important.
So, not eating enough during pregnancy can cause some serious issues for both you and your baby, including fatigue, dizziness, constipation, low birth weight, and developmental problems.
But don’t worry, you’ve got this!
Remember, even if you’re not feeling particularly hungry, it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough to support your growing baby.
Stick to a balanced diet full of all the good stuff, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein, and don’t forget to stay hydrated.
And if you’re struggling with symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
Your healthcare provider is there to support you and your baby throughout your pregnancy journey.
If you’ve noticed you’re experiencing any of these symptoms of not eating enough while pregnant, take care of yourself, mama.
You got this, and we’ve got your back!