Pregnancy affects women differently, but according to Miriam Stoppard, M.D. author of "Conception, Pregnancy and Birth," the vast majority of pregnant women experience either morning sickness, an increase in appetite, or both at some point during their pregnancies. These effects are due to changing hormone levels and increased nutritional needs.
More than half of all pregnant women experience some degree of morning sickness, explain Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel in their book "What To Expect When You're Expecting." The term "morning sickness" is somewhat deceptive -- in fact, pregnancy nausea can strike at any time of day or night, and can even last all day for some unlucky women. The cause of morning sickness is increased levels of hormones and most women get used to the hormones and feel less ill by the start of the second trimester.
If you're feeling extra hungry during pregnancy, you're not alone -- many women experience this symptom. Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz, in their book "You: Having A Baby," explain that your nutritional needs increase during pregnancy, since you're providing for your unborn child in addition to the needs of your own body. Typically, you'll need about 300 extra calories each day to keep your body and your baby, satisfied.
Increased appetite and nausea can even occur in the same woman, paradoxical as the symptoms seem. Morning sickness most commonly strikes when your blood sugar gets low, a common early morning phenomenon, hence the name. Drs. Roizen and Oz note that if you get particularly hungry, it's easy to slip into feeling nauseated, which can lead you to avoid eating, making both the hunger and the nausea worse.
To avoid hunger and hunger-related nausea, Dr. Stoppard recommends eating small meals frequently. She further recommends that your small meals consist of a mix of protein and carbohydrate, since this will help keep your blood sugar stable, and prevent the blood sugar fluctuations that can trigger nausea. Additionally, as your baby grows, small meals are easier on your increasingly crowded stomach.
In some cases, women experience so much hunger that they gain too much weight during pregnancy. Alternately, it's possible to be so nauseated that you lose weight. If your hunger or nausea are beginning to affect your eating significantly, it's best to check with your physician. Pregnancy weight gain is important, but it's also important to make sure you don't gain too much weight. Your obstetrician can help you determine whether you're on track.
- “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”; Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel; 2008
- “You: Having A Baby”; Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.; 2009
- “Conception, Pregnancy and Birth”; Miriam Stoppard, M.D.; 2008