Pickles and peanut butter. Midnight milkshakes and fries. Up to 90 percent of women have intense (and sometimes bizarre) food cravings during pregnancy, which can lead them to drop everything to snack on that “gotta have it” food (or place an emergency Postmates order at 2 a.m.). But did you know that for some women, pregnancy actually makes them lose their appetite? 

While less common than other symptoms, loss of appetite is something that women can deal with at the beginning of their pregnancy journeys. And it often happens alongside other early pregnancy symptoms. If the thought of eating any food at all makes your stomach turn (or just generally is not appealing), here’s what to know — and how to deal.  

Is losing your appetite a common symptom of early pregnancy?

It’s not the most common symptom, but loss of appetite can happen in early pregnancy, says Nicole Calloway Rankins, MD, OB/GYN, and creator and host of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. 

Other common symptoms of early pregnancy include missing periods, nausea, breast tenderness, and fatigue, Dr. Rankins says. Some people might also deal with spotting (slight bleeding), headaches, food cravings or aversions, and mood swings

Of course, just having one or a few of these symptoms is not a definitive sign that you are pregnant. If you suspect you’re pregnant, the best way to know for sure is to, well, take a pregnancy test. 

Why do some people lose their appetite early on in their pregnancies? 

Dr. Rankins says it’s very possible that someone could lose their appetite if they’re also dealing with nausea. (After all, if you’re constantly feeling ill or about to throw up, you’re likely not in the mood to eat.) An estimated 70 percent of women deal with nausea and vomiting (aka morning sickness) during their first trimester, according to the March of Dimes

Experts aren’t sure what causes nausea during pregnancy. But most believe that it’s due to the rapid production of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), also known as the “pregnancy hormone.” The placenta releases this hormone to help thicken your uterine lining to support an early pregnancy, and HCG levels tend to be at their highest during early pregnancy. (And if you’re pregnant with twins or triplets, nausea and morning sickness might be even worse because your body produces even more HCG to properly handle multiple pregnancies.)

Additionally, if someone has really strong food aversions during pregnancy—meaning that they feel suddenly revolted by particular foods and cannot eat them—that might also impact their appetite. Some experts believe that pregnancy hormones like HCG can strengthen your sense of smell and taste, which might make certain foods (or just their aromas) absolutely unbearable. The most common food aversions are garlic, onions, fish, and other seafood (you know, smelly stuff that might trigger nausea). 

How do you deal with appetite loss and other stomach issues during this phase of pregnancy? 

During early pregnancy, Dr. Rankins says you don’t need any additional calories to support your baby’s growth. But proper nutrition is still an important part of your overall health as well as that of your little one. So figuring out how to get enough to eat, even when you have zero appetite, is key during this time. 

“Eating small, frequent meals instead of three big meals can help,” Dr. Rankins says, especially when you’re also dealing with nausea or vomiting. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends eating dry toast or crackers first thing in the morning so you’re not moving around on an empty stomach (which might make nausea worse). Taking small, regular bites of nourishing snacks like nuts or fruit can help, too. Very bland food (think bananas, applesauce, rice) can also help keep nausea at bay because they’re easy to digest, per the ACOG. Plus, they help ensure you still eat. 

If even simple, solid foods make your stomach turn, Dr. Rankins says drinks like Ensure or homemade shakes can be easier to sip on and tolerate (while still getting in your nutrients). 

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Eating stuff with ginger, like ginger tea or ginger hard candies, might also help settle your stomach according to the ACOG. Research has shown that ginger can actually be a good alternative for certain anti-nausea medications

And don’t forget to stay hydrated, especially if you’re vomiting. Regularly sip on water or tea to keep up your fluid intake. (Seltzer or ginger ale are good options too.)

When does morning sickness go away? 

Nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and other gastrointestinal issues associated with early pregnancy tend to get better by week 14, says Dr. Rankins. But if your symptoms are really severe, you start to lose weight or don’t respond to home remedies, it’s worth checking in with your OB/GYN to see if there is anything else that can be done (like prescription anti-nausea medication or other treatments). They might also recommend you switch to a prenatal that doesn’t contain iron (which can trigger nausea). 

Losing your appetite and dealing with morning sickness is unpleasant, for sure. But think of these frustrating symptoms as a pregnancy rite of passage—and something you’ll likely forget once it’s in the rearview mirror.

Jessie Van Amburg is a health writer, reporter, and editor with 10 years of experience creating meaningful, compelling journalism in print and digital formats. Her work has been featured in TIME, Women's Health, Well+Good, and more.