At no other time in a woman’s life is proper nutrition more important than when she is pregnant. Eating right not only helps pregnant women maintain a healthy weight and prevent gestational diabetes, getting the right nutrients improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby. If you are newly pregnant, you may not be sure where to begin when it comes to changing your eating habits. While your obstetrician can help design a nutritional plan that is right for your needs, there are foods that you can add to your diet during each trimester to keep you feeling happy and healthy.
The First Trimester
The first trimester of pregnancy, from week one to week twelve, is when proper nutrition is the most vital. Your tiny baby will need a wide variety of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to develop properly. One of the most important is folic acid, which is a B vitamin, and is highly instrumental in the development of your baby’s spinal cord. Your zinc and iron requirements will typically increase as well.
To get your daily dose of these vitamins and minerals, add dark, leafy greens to your diet, including spinach, kale, and collard greens, and be sure to wash them thoroughly first to avoid any bacterial illness. Zinc and iron can be found in lean cuts of meat and in most beans, grains, and nuts. You can eat these foods in any combination, as most of them contain all of these key nutrients.
The Second Trimester
The second trimester of pregnancy, which lasts from week thirteen to week 27, is an exciting time when morning sickness fades and you might feel more energized. Your baby’s nervous system is growing more every day, and during this time, your body will need more calcium and omega-3 fatty acids to promote the development of healthy bones, teeth, and most importantly, normal brain growth.
During this time, consider adding foods to your diet than include plain yogurt, almonds, sesame seeds, soft cheeses, and whole milk, if it has been given the green light by your doctor. To increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you take in, add sardines to your salad and cut back on preservatives by using Hamptoncreek salad dressing, which is made from all-natural ingredients, or eat salmon and albacore tuna, both of which are rich in this nutrient. If you are unsure about how much seafood you should eat during pregnancy, consult your obstetrician before creating a meal plan for your second trimester.
The Third Trimester
During the third trimester, which spans from the 28th to the 40th week, your baby will be growing rapidly and your nutrition plan should include foods that will keep your strength up and give your body the energy it will need in order for you to carry your baby to term. You will also need plenty of vitamin K during this time to strengthen your body’s ability to heal and to improve blood clotting, something that will be important during the birth.
Foods that are rich in vitamin K include a wide variety of fruit, including melon, plums, prunes, and blackberries. Vegetables such as spinach, kale, romaine and green lettuce, and celery also contain vitamin K. As such, you might consider increasing the number of salads you eat per week and add melon to your breakfast each day. You can also make melon smoothies at home and sweeten them with a touch of liquid agave. If you are dealing with sugar spikes during your third trimester, which can be common, ask your doctor about using this type of sweetener.
What you eat after giving birth can be just as important as what you ate during your pregnancy. You will need foods that provide you with energy and help your body to heal. If you are breast-feeding your baby, your body will need additional nutrients as well. Foods that will keep you and your baby healthy include salmon, eggs for protein, oranges and leafy greens for vitamin C, and legumes and berries to provide your system with antioxidants. Remember to eat a variety of foods and have small meals throughout the day to keep you energized.
Eating right during each trimester of pregnancy increases the chances of having a healthy baby and may reduce the risk of birth defects. While you should work closely with your doctor concerning your nutrition during this time, knowing which foods will promote a healthy pregnancy can help you plan daily meals and give you the energy you need to enjoy this exciting and joyous time.