How Long Can I Go Without Eating While Pregnant?


Time to read 7 min

Introduction: How long can I go without eating while pregnant?

Many women wonder how long can I go without eating while pregnant? Before pregnancy, you may have occasionally skipped meals or fasted for different reasons like weight loss, blood sugar control, or due to religious and cultural practices. 

However, it's crucial to note that during pregnancy, fasting for more than 13 hours can cause preterm labor based on this study at the NIH. Developing babies rely on a continuous supply of nutrients, and fasting can disrupt this essential nourishment, potentially affecting your baby's growth and health.

Proper nutrition during your pregnancy is vital since it directly impacts the health and development of you and your growing baby. Eating a well-balanced diet will allow your baby to grow as well as support your own health during your pregnancy. Because, if you are not healthy, your baby isn't either.

pregnant women with morning sickness.JPG

What if I have morning sickness?

A lot of expecting mothers experience nausea and vomiting during the early weeks of pregnancy which make it challenging to maintain a balanced diet let alone keep anything down. It is recommended that pregnant women eat simple carbohydrates that are dry and easily digestible such as salted crackers, plane rice or pasta, baked potato, dry cereal, bread, etc.

Ginger or peppermint tea has natural anti-nausea properties that can help settle your stomach as well. If you are not a fan of those, try bananas, applesauce, or popsicles! If you are looking for more foods check out these 10 foods that fight nausea during pregnancy.

Remember, you want to make sure you eat, because skipping meals contributes to lower blood sugar causing more nausea, which just compounds the problem. Try to eat small meals throughout the day frequently, rather than large ones.

Religious and Cultural Fasting Practices

In the context of your cultural or religious background, fasting practices often hold deep significance. However, it's important to recognize that these practices can limit the essential nutrients and hurt the growing baby's health during pregnancy. It's widely advised that pregnant women stay away from such fasting practices to ensure the optimal health of themselves and their infants.

Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have a chat with your healthcare provider or your trusted spiritual advisor. They can give you some solid advice on balancing your traditions without sacrificing you and your baby's health.

blond women that is pregnant

Can I Intermittent Fast During Pregnancy?

Intermittent fasting has become more popular over the years due to its health and anti-aging benefits. Engaging in intermittent fasting while pregnant is generally discouraged since it is a crucial time when your body and your developing baby have increased nutritional demands. Fasting, even intermittently, can disrupt the essential supply of nutrients and calories needed for the baby's growth and your well-being. 

If you have questions or concerns about fasting or your dietary choices while pregnant, consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian specializing in prenatal nutrition. They can help you create a safe meal plan that addresses your unique needs during this time.

blond women that is pregnant

Understanding Your Body's Needs During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body's energy needs increase. This means you require more calories and important nutrients to support both your own health and the development of your growing baby. Think of it as your body's way of saying, "I need some extra fuel to make this baby happen!" These extra calories and nutrients are essential to fuel the increased metabolic rate, the formation of new tissues, and the overall demands of pregnancy. It's crucial to meet these energy demands with a healthy diet to ensure a healthy pregnancy for your baby.

Maintaining a balanced and nutrient dense diet during your pregnancy:

Pregnant women should focus on consuming a well-balanced diet that provides essential nutrients for both their own health and the healthy development of their growing baby. Here's a breakdown of nutrients to prioritize:


Folic Acid (Folate): Found in leafy greens, fortified cereals, and legumes, folic acid is crucial for preventing neural tube defects in the developing fetus.

Iron: Red meat, poultry, beans, and fortified cereals are excellent sources of iron, which is essential for preventing anemia during pregnancy. If you are anemic or have low blood pressure, it is recommended to supplement with iron pills as well.

Calcium: Dairy, fortified plant-based milks, leafy greens, and almonds are rich in calcium, which is essential in the developing of the baby's bones and teeth.

Protein: Lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and tofu provide protein, which supports the baby's overall growth.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fatty fish (like salmon and sardines), flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids important for the baby's brain and eye development.

Vitamin D: Eggs, fortified dairy or plant-based milk, and exposure to sunlight are sources of vitamin D, necessary for calcium absorption. It is recommended to take vitamin D supplements as this is the most efficient way to get your vitamin D.

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits like strawberries, and bell peppers provide vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron.

Fiber: Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables supply fiber, which helps with digestion and prevent constipation. Having a fiber-rich diet can also stop you from eating too many calories as it makes you feel full faster and stops excessive weight gain

We recommend eating nutrient-dense foods to ensure you can get all your vitamins easily and efficiently. You can also buy pre-natal vitamins!

With many foods that your body needs during pregnancy, there are also many foods to avoid during your pregnancy: 

Caffeine: While a little caffeine is considered safe, excessive caffeine is not reccomended. Stick to moderate amounts, around 200-300 mg per day.

Alcohol: Alcohol consumption should be completely avoided during pregnancy to prevent fetal alcohol spectrum disorders or premature birth.

High-Mercury Fish: Certain fish, like, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, can contain high levels of mercury. Pregnant woman should limit their intake of eating fish and go for lower-mercury options like salmon and shrimp.

Processed Foods: I know it could be difficult to stay away from these types of foods, especially during pregnancy, but foods high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and excess salt should be limited.

Raw or Undercooked Meat: To prevent food-borne illnesses, avoid raw fish or undercooked seafood, eggs, and meats, as well as unpasteurized dairy.

Excess Vitamin A: High doses of vitamin A, found in some supplements and animal liver, can be harmful to the developing fetus. Stick to recommended prenatal vitamins and dietary sources of vitamin A.

7. Unpasteurized Foods: Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, since they might carry harmful bacteria like Listeria.

Lastly, you want to make sure you drink plenty of water. Your body's working overtime to support you and your growing baby, and water is a crucial part of that equation. Staying hydrated helps transport enough nutrients, control body temperature, and maintain amniotic fluid levels. Plus, dehydration can lead to pregnancy complications like contractions or urinary tract infections, so drink up! Aim for about 8-10 cups of water a day, and more if you're active or it's hot outside. A helpful tip is to get yourself a large hydra-flask and just sip on it all day. 


While discussing the essential aspects of pregnancy, it's equally important to celebrate the journey with your partner. Speaking of celebrations, in our recent post on 15 unique maternity picture ideas for black couples, we've gathered some unique tips to help you capture the beauty that comes with this special phase of life.

Consequences of Not Eating During Pregnancy

Skipping meals during pregnancy can have immediate effects on your body. When you don't eat, your body lacks the energy it needs to function optimally. This can lead to fatigue, weakness, making it hard to carry out daily activities.


Another concern that can occur is Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar). Missing meals can cause your blood sugar levels to drop, leading to hypoglycemia. This can result in shakiness, dizziness, irritability, and even fainting in severe cases.

To avoid this, it's important to maintain a well-balanced diet throughout pregnancy and eat regular, nutritious meals and snacks.

Not eating during your pregnancy can also cause inadequate fetal growth hindering the baby's proper development in the womb.


Another risk that stands is premature labor. Poor maternal nutrition can have serious health implications for the baby, including potential complications like underdeveloped organs. Low birth weight is another concern that stands when expecting mothers do not eat during their pregnancy. Low birth weight can unfortunately be linked to various health issues for the infant, short and long-term.

In cases where nutrition falls short during pregnancy, potential long-term consequences for the child include developmental delays affecting their physical and cognitive healthy growth.


This can also increase the child's likelihood to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions as they get older. Prioritizing proper nutrition during pregnancy is essential not only for the immediate health of both the mother and the baby but also for the child's long-term well-being and development. Speaking of health, check out these 15 things to do on maternity leave that will keep you mentally busy and fulfilled.

blond women that is pregnant
Florida Medical Clinic

When to Get Help

Recognizing when it's time to seek assistance during pregnancy is crucial. Keep an eye out for signs like fatigue and dehydration, which could indicate issues with your current nutrition or diet. Make sure to always go to your prenatal check-ups; they're like checkpoints on your pregnancy journey. And if you ever have questions about your diet or experience unusual symptoms, touch base with your doctor for guidance and peace of mind to ensure a healthy pregnancy.


Final Thoughts: How long can i go without eating while pregnant

Maintaining proper nutrition during pregnancy is essential for the health and development of both you and your baby. While fasting or skipping meals might have been normal practices before pregnancy, it's important to adapt to this stage of life.  Prolonged fasting can pose risks like preterm birth, birth defects, or inadequate fetal growth. Make sure to follow our tips on morning sickness to make sure you are well-nourished when the nausea strikes! Understanding your body's needs, recognizing when to seek help, and prioritizing a healthy diet and hydration are the cornerstones of a healthy and thriving pregnancy journey. Good luck! Are you a working mom? Check out these 12 Maternity Tops For Work That Are Comfortable & Stylish