It’s common to say a pregnant woman is ‘eating for two’.
In other words, she can eat twice as much as usual, because she’s eating for herself and the baby.
This can be a misconception as many pregnant women report feeling full really quickly during pregnancy.
Women often can’t eat as much food during pregnancy as they usually would.
Why do many pregnant women feel so full after eating?
Read on to find out more about this phenomenon and what to do about it.
Feeling full really quickly during pregnancy – first trimester
Feeling full really quickly during pregnancy can start as early as the first trimester.
There are a few reasons why this happens:
- Increase in progesterone
- Gastrointestinal slowing
- Increased gas
Research shows progesterone levels increase when a woman is pregnant.
The problem seems to be associated with this hormone. As the pregnancy progresses, the progesterone level rises.
A side effect of rising levels of progesterone is slowing of the gastrointestinal tract.
In basic terms, this means you’re more likely to be constipated.
Constipation can also lead to a buildup of unreleased gas. The end result can be a feeling of fullness in the first trimester.
If you experience this fullness, and then eat something, you’ll feel full really quickly. This is because the intestines are already backed up with food and gas.
Hungry but feeling full really quickly during pregnancy
Many women feel very hungry during the first trimester.
Your body needs lots of energy to support your rapidly growing baby.
You need extra calories to grow this new life, which leads to a heightened feeling of hunger.
Many women feel extremely hungry in the first trimester but can’t eat much, due to feeling full really quickly.
This can be frustrating, especially when cravings are added to the mix.
Feeling full really quickly during pregnancy – second trimester
The study that shows progesterone rising during the first trimester of pregnancy also shows it continuing to rise in the second trimester.
At this stage, the progesterone level can be around 40 times higher than that of a woman who isn’t pregnant.
Unfortunately, this means an increase in the feeling of fullness.
Starving then feeling full in pregnancy
It’s normal during the first and second trimesters to feel very hungry but feel full really quickly.
As the baby grows, the mother needs higher levels of nutrition to support this growth.
The frustration comes in when you can’t eat much due to the feeling of fullness.
It’s important for you to continue to take your prenatal vitamins so you and your baby get the nutrition you both need.
Is it normal to feel full during early pregnancy?
As frustrating as this feeling can be, it’s totally normal.
When our bodies are pregnant, they change in so many ways that everything feels different.
Although the baby is still fairly small during the first and second trimesters, there are other factors that can cause this feeling of fullness.
If you’re concerned that your feeling of fullness during pregnancy is excessive, talk to your doctor so you can be checked out.
Why do I feel so full after eating while pregnant?
During the third trimester of pregnancy, while progesterone is still rising, there’s the added problem of the baby taking up more space.
By the end of the second trimester, your baby is likely to be 3-4 kgs (6-9lbs) and 50cms (20 inches) long.
This leads to difficulties, such as:
- Less space in the bowel
- Less space in the bladder
- Your diaphragm being pushed or kicked.
The size of the baby means there’s less space in your body for food. This can lead to you feeling full really quickly when you eat.
Is it normal to get full fast?
This feeling is totally normal during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester.
The hormone levels and size of the baby mean your body feels full very quickly.
Your healthcare provider will recommend:
- Appropriate weight gain
- Balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Taking vitamins.
If you’re not able to eat enough and are losing weight, it’s important to speak to your care provider to make sure you and baby are getting adequate nutrition.
How many times a day should a pregnant woman eat?
Some things that might help with feeling full really quickly during pregnancy include:
- More frequent but smaller meals
- Eating high protein foods
- Staying hydrated
- Taking vitamins.
If you can’t eat much in one sitting, try eating smaller meals throughout the day.
Since your digestive system has slowed down, this gives your body a chance to work on the last meal before starting the next.
It also reduces the feeling of discomfort, which is especially important during the third trimester. As your baby gets bigger and shifts your organs around, you might experience reflux and indigestion more frequently.
Staying hydrated is also very important. Even if you don’t feel like it, drink plenty of water; your body needs it.
Taking small sips throughout the day might be easier than drinking a full glass with a meal.
Can being too full hurt the baby?
This article sums up two important things to consider when looking at your diet while you’re pregnant:
- You only need to eat approximately 300 calories extra per day
- Your diet can affect your baby’s health.
It’s unlikely you’re eating too much. The feeling of fullness usually prevents a pregnant woman from eating a lot of food.
Watch your diet, but don’t worry too much about getting enough calories for the baby. 300 calories isn’t much to add and, already mentioned, is equal to about one extra avocado a day.
It’s more important to focus on the quality of the food you’re eating.
Healthy ways to eat when feeling full really quickly during pregnancy
These healthy foods are great to include in your diet during pregnancy:
- Leafy greens
- Sunflower seeds
- Brussels sprouts.
Check out this article for more information about nutrition during pregnancy.
This article stresses the lower chance of health problems for your baby if you stick to healthy choices with your pregnancy diet.
During pregnancy, it’s important to take care of your body.
It’s working extra hard to grow a new life and experiencing higher levels of hormones.
Feeling full really quickly during pregnancy is normal.
The main things to remember are:
- Eat healthy whole foods
- Take quality prenatal vitamins
- Exercise if possible (even just short walks if you can)
- Stay hydrated.
Ultimately, you know your body best. If anything feels wrong, make sure to contact your healthcare provider to check that everything is okay.