The best food to eat during pregnancy is a food guide given for each trimester to ensure both mother and baby are getting sufficient nutrients throughout the whole pregnancy period. For mothers, eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet during this time will ensure your smooth pregnancy and prevent any complication happens such as high blood pressure, obesity, gestational diabetes, anemia, preeclampsia, etc that could lead to premature birth, and other birth defects.
Baby only relies entirely on the mother’s daily nutrient intake for healthy growth and development for the whole nine months of pregnancy. Therefore, consuming nutritious foods and gaining a healthy amount of weight during the pregnancy is important to support the baby’s growth.
In this article, we will share how mothers shall optimize nutrition by eating the right foods during each trimester to support their baby’s growth.
Best food to eat during pregnancy
During your first trimester, you may not enjoy eating foods as some of you may experience morning sickness, fatigue, and food aversion. Changes in hormones can easily trigger nausea and vomiting. The dramatic rise of progesterone hormone can lead to frequent acid reflux and irregular bowel movement. This morning sickness can easily take away your appetite, therefore, you may only opt for a simple meal.
If you are not feeling like eating anything, take a smaller portion but a more frequent meal is the better option. Here are the 5 important nutrients you must take during the first trimester, even you can’t bring yourself to eat but try to incorporate these 5 important nutrients in your daily meal.
This is the most important micronutrient in your first trimester, even better if you take it since the day you try to conceive. Folic acid prevents neural tube defects in babies and play important role in DNA creation and red blood cell formation. It is a vital nutrient to ensure proper fetal growth. Take about 400 – 500 micrograms a day in the form of prenatal supplement, to prevent a deficiency. Also, eat more green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, legumes, nuts, beans, beets, oranges, strawberries, eggs. These are the foods that are rich in folate (folic acid).
To have peace of mind that you may not be getting enough folate in your daily meal, just take the supplement daily.
You need protein in your daily meal. It is important for the muscle development and tissue growth of your fetus and placenta during the first trimester. You can easily get protein from the food; all kinds of meats, eggs, tofu, milk, yogurt, beans, nuts, and seeds are a good source of protein.
Iron is important for producing healthy red blood cells in your baby and yourself. During pregnancy, your iron demand will increase as you need to produce more red blood cells to supply oxygen to your fetus. Lack of this nutrient will cause pregnancy anemia. You need to have enough blood to support your baby’s growth in your first trimester. Incorporate food that is rich in iron such as red meats, eggs, green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, iron-fortified cereals, milk, legumes, etc.
If you are still feeling weak and tired during your first trimester, consult your doctor and check whether you have iron deficiencies. Your doctor will advise you if you need to take iron supplements along with your other prenatal vitamins.
Calcium is also an important nutrient to support the growth of your fetus’s bone and teeth. Increase your calcium intake during your pregnancy period to avoid the risk of getting osteoporosis later. There is plenty of good source of calcium you can find from the foods, such as dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt, and leafy greens like spinach and kale, nuts, seeds, and fortified foods.
Sometimes, it is good to have a walk outside the house every day, our body can produce vitamin d when exposed to sunlight and calcium can absorb better in our body with the presence of vitamin D.
Omega 3 fatty acid
Omega 3 fatty acid is needed for the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. You can obtain omega 3 fatty acids from eating small ocean fish like anchovies and sardines. Salmon is big ocean fish that is also rich in omega 3 but large fish may contain a higher amount of mercury than smaller fish. If you can’t stand the smell of seafood during this period, you may consult your doctor for the Omega 3 supplement.
You do not need to eat for two during your first trimester. You just need to eat well (include these 5 important nutrients in your meal), less portion but a more frequent meal. Do follow your doctor’s instructions, he will advise you whether you need to take prenatal supplements, do not simply buy over-the-counter supplements without consulting your doctor first.
When you reach week 13, you may be feeling better and able to eat well. Some people may have food cravings and develop preferences for certain kinds of food.
Besides, all the 5 nutrients we mentioned in the first trimester, you still need during your second trimester but our focus on this period are more on calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. As your baby is growing and developing organs, just be sure we have all the food groups incorporated in our daily meals.
Calcium is even more important during this period as your baby starts developing musculoskeletal, nervous, and circulatory systems along with his bones. Continue to consume your dairy products, green leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
You need vitamin D to help with your calcium absorption in your body. Deficiency of vitamin D has also been linked to some pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature birth, and small babies. Therefore, making this vitamin an extremely important nutrient during pregnancy. You can obtain vitamin D by exposing it to sunlight, our body can synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Just spending 10-15 minutes outside the house at least twice a week is sufficient for our body to synthesize enough vitamin D to meet our requirements.
You can obtain vitamin D fortified food in the market such as milk, cereal, margarine. Deep seawater fishes like salmon, sardine are also a good source of vitamin D.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient to reduce the risk of complication pregnancy and support fetus growth. Both calcium and magnesium are needed to build strong bones and teeth. It also will help to relax you and reduce leg cramps during your pregnancy.
You can get magnesium from food that is rich in fiber. Some fortified foods also contain magnesium and leafy greens such as spinach, legumes, nuts, and seeds are rich in magnesium too.
When you are in your final trimester, your baby is growing in size and weight. You need to continue consuming all the important nutrients, eat a well-balanced diet. You try to incorporate all food groups in appropriate portions. Gaining healthy weight gain but not too much. According to CDC, a healthy weight gain is tabulated as below:
|pre-pregnancy weight (BMI)||weight gain (kg)|
|BMI 18.5 and below||13 – 18|
|BMI 18.5 – 24.9||11 – 16|
|BMI 25 – 29.9||7-11|
|BMI 30 and more||5-9|
When the due date is around the corner, you may consume food that is rich in healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and grains to help you with breast milk production as well as to boost up your energy for the labor later on.
Read more ” About pregnancy food cravings“, ” List of foods not to eat while pregnant“