Pregnancy: Why am I Always Hungry?

Holy hungry.. let’s talk about pregnancy and that increased appetite. 

So here you are at 22 weeks pregnant. You have made it through the first trimester queasiness, lack of appetite, food aversions, and sprouted a cute little baby bump. Now here comes the second trimester with cravings and a ravenous feeling daily. An increase in appetite is very common in pregnancy, and while not all women will experience it, many will. Estrogen and progesterone are some of the hormones at play during pregnancy and they can contribute to your hunger (remember those hunger feelings and cravings while PMS-ing), but the main reason for a pregnant woman’s increased appetite is because your body is making a human! In the span of 40 weeks your body increases its total volume of blood, your uterus grows from the size of a pear to a small watermelon, and you grow a 6-9lb baby. Growing a human is hard work and your body requires extra calories to do just that. 

Most women will require between 300-400 calories extra a day starting in the second trimester. The increased demand in calories does not mean you need to “eat for two” unless you are having twins or triplets. In the case of multiples, you will want to ask your OB provider to discuss how many extra calories, expected weight gain, and vitamin/mineral requirements that you will need. 

The increased caloric need of pregnancy is not a free ticket to indulge all you want. You would do best if these extra calories come in the form of fruits, veggies, lean proteins such as turkey and chicken, or healthy fats (think olive oil and avocados). Sorry, salty chips and ice cream, you are tasty but not ideal snacks! 

During the second and third trimester when cravings and increased appetite hit, you may be concerned that you are overeating or feeling starved. Be sure to consume the recommended amount of water (8-10 cups) daily. Lack of hydration can often be confused for hunger. If you feel like all you are doing is eating, and it has become a concern to you, planning snacks and carrying around a water bottle can help you be prepared and keep your hunger in check. Nutritionist and OB providers recommend preparing for your day with simple snacks that combine a protein and a carbohydrate. Listed below are a few quick ideas on snacks. Many women will say that their hunger decreases in the tail end of the third trimester. Issues like heartburn and a growing baby and uterus can crowd your stomach and other organs, restricting how much food your stomach can take are the contributing factors here. 

Don’t be afraid to treat yourself every once in a while too- making a baby is hard work and you deserve a little something special, mama! 

FYI: Hunger will also usually increase again when you deliver if you are nursing. Breastfeeding or pumping require up to an extra 500 calories a day! 

Snack ideas: 

  • Oatmeal with granola 
  • Yogurt with fresh fruit, drizzle of honey 
  • Chia pudding
  • Whole wheat pita chips with guacamole or hummus 
  • Handful of nuts and berries 
  • Hard boiled eggs

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