Feeling hungry all the time? There’s a pretty simple answer behind your growling stomach. A developing fetus needs enough calories and nutrients to grow. Let’s talk about some of the harder questions to answer about appetite during pregnancy.
How Early Will My Appetite Increase?
The movies, and stories from other moms, may convince you that you won’t even want to look at food in your first trimester. It’s true that many pregnant people deal with nausea and reduced appetite in early pregnancy. Increased appetite is normal, too, even if you’re sick.
For one, after you vomit, your stomach is (obviously) empty. Your body can kick in a hunger cue to replace those lost calories. Some people may find that grazing throughout the day keeps nausea at bay more than relying on three square meals.
When Do I Get to Eat for Two?
Chances are good that shortly after your second trimester starts, waves of nausea will be replaced by hunger pangs. Time to load up your plate. Or at least take an extra scoop.
During your second trimester, you’ll need about 300 extra calories to grow a healthy baby. In your third trimester, that number jumps to 500. If you’re expecting multiples, those numbers will be higher. Still, you won’t be doubling or tripling your calorie needs to “eat for two (or three!).”
You may gain weight steadily, or in fits and starts. Ask your doctor whether you’re cleared for exercise. Eat when you feel hungry, be as active as your body and health allow, and try not to stress yourself out.
How Can I Manage My Weight Gain When I’m Constantly Hungry?
Gaining weight during pregnancy is normal and healthy–to an extent. If you were at a healthy weight before pregnancy, most doctors recommend gaining 25-35 pounds. Overweight moms-to-be may be advised to gain a bit less, about 15-25 pounds. Moms of twins may need to gain more. Gaining more than the recommended amount of weight can increase the chances of certain pregnancy complications or a large baby, which can make delivery more challenging.
But how do you keep weight gain at target rate when you’re constantly hungry? Try these tips:
- Eat more frequently, but make meals smaller. It’s fine if you need to eat six times a day. Ask your doctor about how many calories you need daily, and split the math accordingly.
- Have protein, fiber, and healthy fat in every meal. These nutrients keep you feeling full and satisfied longer. Multigrain pasta, Greek yogurt, eggs, nut butters, and fruit are good options to reach for.
- Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can feel like hunger. Eat when you need food, but don’t ignore the possibility that what you need is a drink.
- Stock up on your favorite nutritious treats. Three heaping bowls of watermelon is generally a healthier option than three pints of ice cream.
- Indulge the occasional craving. Eating healthy during pregnancy doesn’t mean tasteless food and certainly doesn’t mean you never get to have a treat. The point is to use moderation. Have a small fry once a week, not a large every day. Have a few slices of pizza with sides of veggies. You can both satisfy your cravings and have a fit pregnancy.
- Be mindful of your relationship with food. In our culture, increased weight and appetite in women isn’t always seen as a positive thing. Ask for support from family and friends if you need it.
Increased appetite in pregnancy is a good thing. Your body’s asking for nutrients for both you and a baby. Eat well, keep moving, rest when you need it, and enjoy the changes your body is making.