Do Babies Feel Hunger in the Womb? How Fetuses Get Nutrients

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time for women. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help the baby grow and develop.

Some may wonder if the foods they are eating are the best for the baby or if they are eating too much or too little. This may lead to the question of:

Is my baby hungry when I’m hungry during pregnancy? No, your baby is not hungry when you are during pregnancy. An unborn baby receives a constant flow of nutrients. Think of your baby as having access to a never-ending buffet. From the time of implantation in the uterus lining until the mother gives birth, the fetus will have all it needs. 

A woman’s body can do amazing things during pregnancy. It will deliver nutrients to the baby regardless of what the mom is eating or not eating.

The fetus will take what nourishments it needs from the mother, which in return could leave the mother lacking the nutrients she needs to feel healthy and happy.

In fact, most food cravings during pregnancy can be linked to certain deficiencies in the mother’s body. This is why it is important to eat a well-balanced diet while pregnant.

Do Babies Get Hungry in the Womb?

As mentioned above, the answer is simply no they do not, but let us take a closer look as to why that is. 

Do Fetuses Feel Hunger?

Babies are incapable of feeling hunger due to their constant flow of nutrients through the placenta. This makes it impossible for them to feel hunger. 

Fetal Activity May Increase Around Mealtime

Fetal activity can increase around a mother’s meal time. This is due to the mother and baby’s blood sugar lowering.

When blood sugar is low, it encourages movement in the body to find food followed by a decrease in movement once the body is fed. 

How Nutrients Are Delivered to Your Baby in the Womb

An unborn baby is connected to the umbilical cord, which supplies the fetus with all the necessary nutrients and oxygen. 

At the beginning of pregnancy, the uterus stores glucose and glycogen, which are used to nourish the baby until the placenta takes over. After about 8-11 weeks, the placenta and umbilical cord take over delivering nutrients from mom to baby.

When Does Baby Start Absorbing Nutrients From Mother?

The baby starts absorbing nutrients from the mother right at the beginning, starting as the fertilized egg embeds into the uterus about three days after conception.

The fertilized egg is in need of energy, which is why the uterus lining sheds glucose during the beginning of pregnancy.

A week after conception, the yolk sac is formed and will take over providing the fetus with necessary nutrients and gasses passed from the mother until around week 10 when the placenta takes over.

A pregnant lady scanning the fridge for a snack.

Normal Hunger During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the mother’s appetite could be different every day. In the beginning, a lot of women experience morning sickness, nausea, and food aversions.

As the pregnancy goes on, most of the symptoms will resolve, leading to the mother getting a normal appetite back. Then, as the baby grows and takes more nutrients from the mother, the mom will experience an increased appetite.

As the baby gets bigger, it presses against the mother’s stomach, which will lead to her feeling fuller fast. 

Hunger During First Trimester

It is normal during the first trimester of pregnancy to not experience any appetite changes whatsoever. Some women have a decreased appetite due to morning sickness or nausea. Extra calories are not needed at this point in pregnancy. 

Hunger During Second Trimester

Increased appetite is expected in the second trimester. For most women, morning sickness and nausea are disappearing, which will make it easier to eat more calories.

The fetus is growing rapidly at this point, so it will need added nutrients to grow. 

Hunger During Third Trimester

Once the third trimester arrives, the mom might notice a decrease in appetite or be full after only eating a small portion of food.

This is due to the growing baby pushing on all organs, including the stomach. Expecting mothers may find relief in eating small, frequent meals. 

Late Night Hunger During Pregnancy

There are many changes to a woman’s body during pregnancy, including hormone changes and metabolism changes. Both of these play a part in late-night hunger during pregnancy.

Changes in the baby’s growth, as well as the mom’s needs, send signals to the mom’s brain telling it that she is hungry.

Effects of Staying Hungry During Pregnancy

Pregnant women may always feel like they are hungry no matter how often they eat, and that is perfectly normal.

Ignoring the hunger cues and not giving your body what it is asking for can result in malnutrition for the mother, and long-term malnutrition for the mom can result in developmental problems for the fetus.

An empty stomach can also cause heartburn, which can be avoided by eating small frequent meals. 

Food Cravings When Pregnant With a Boy

Pregnancy cravings can happen if you are pregnant with a boy or a girl. Some people feel that certain cravings may indicate the gender of the baby.

When pregnant with a baby boy, the mom might crave protein, salty foods, spicy foods, and maybe even pickles. 

Food Cravings When Pregnant With a Girl

On the other hand, moms pregnant with a girl are more likely to crave all things sweet. Girl moms might also find that they are craving citrus fruits more. 

Related Questions:

Do Babies Get Scared in the Womb?

Babies feeling general fear inside the womb is not likely because their environment stays the same. They just float around, so there is nothing to bring fear to the baby.

It is impossible that later in pregnancy, the baby might hear a sudden loud noise from outside the womb that may startle them, but that’s about it. 

Can You Miscarry From Not Eating Enough?

Getting enough calories during pregnancy is important to keep the mom healthy for the duration.

Lack of nutrients might leave the mom weak, faint, or dizzy and can lead to the mother becoming malnourished. However, it is unlikely for a woman to have a miscarriage from not eating enough. 


Overall nutrition and the mother’s health matter when it comes to growing a baby. The mom getting enough nutrient-rich calories will help the baby form and develop like it should and in return will leave the mom feeling more energetic and healthy overall.

A proper diet can help with a lot of common pregnancy problems, such as cravings, heartburn, nausea, and dizziness. However, if a mom’s diet is not the best, the baby will not go hungry and will more than likely be healthy and happy.