What to eat when pregnant is a common question among pregnant ladies. Eating right is essential during pregnancy since every bit of nutrition you consume is received by the baby growing inside you.
A proper combination of nutrients, vitamins and minerals in your diet during pregnancy will make the baby healthy and keep you physically strong. You need to strike the right balance between fats, proteins, and carbohydrates without adding to the number of calories.
Importance of nutrition during pregnancy in trimesters
The duration of the pregnancy is divided into three trimesters each of which has its own nutritional importance since it is connected to the growth of the baby.
Women of normal weight and BMI should ideally consume about 1,800 calories daily in the first three months. In the second and third trimesters, keep the calorie rate at 2,200 and 2,400 per day.
The first trimester happens to be the most important among the nine months because the nervous system, essential organs, heartbeat, arms, legs, fingers, toes, hair, and teeth are formed.
Lack of proper nutrition and unnecessary weight gain can lead to birth complications and even gestational diabetes. Eating right will make it easier to lose weight after your baby is born. Here, we will tell you about foods to eat during pregnancy week by week.
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Foods to eat when pregnant first trimester
Consuming dairy food in the first trimester is critical because the baby’s tiny bones are developing during this time. You will need to consume cheese, milk and yogurt to get the required amount of calcium.
For calorie-conscious would-be mothers try non-fat or low-fat dairy products. In case, you are lactose intolerant;go for calcium-fortified soy milk or lactose-free milk products.
One serving of this is equal to a cup of yogurt or milk and two ounces of processed cheese. Ideally, you should have around three servings of dairy foods every day. Dairy food is healthy food for pregnant women.
2. Add Fruits in pregnancy diet
Fruits must be consumed on a daily basis of three to four servings. You can try either canned fruits or even fresh ones from the market. Include one citrus fruit at least like grapefruit, tangerine or even an orange.
Vitamin C present in citrus fruits is good for the baby and you because this vitamin makes it easy to absorb iron from the vegetables. If you are drinking fruit juice, then limit it to only one glass because these are usually high on calories, and you lose out on the fiber. Orange is best food for pregnant women.
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Green and leafy vegetables contain a wide variety of nutrients like spinach, broccoli and kale, pumpkins, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, corn, yellow and red peppers and tomatoes. Legumes and beans should also be on the list because they are a rich source of iron.
One serving of these vegetables equals a cup of raw vegetables and about a half cup of raw or cooked veggies. Ideally, you should have three to five servings of vegetables daily in the first trimester.
4. Protein in pregnancy diet plan
Daily consumption of protein is extremely important in this trimester. You should have at least two-three daily servings of beans, lentils, seeds, split peas, and nuts. Include dollops (around 2 spoons full) of peanut butter and one-fourth cup of nuts in your meals.
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5. Whole grains
These are a rich source of nutrients and vitamins along with a lot of fiber. At least three servings of whole grains should be present in the daily diet. These include cereals, bread, pasta and cracker. The fiber content is required for maintaining normal bowel movements and thereby avoiding constipation. It is advisable to select whole grain bread in place of white ones.
Foods to eat when pregnant second trimester
The second trimester is supposed to be considerably easy-going for most women. But the balance in nutritional elements should be maintained.
Invest in home-cooked meals preferably. If you are picking up something from the store, read the label to select items that have low sodium content and fat.
Unpasteurized items like milk products and juices are best avoided during the second trimester and beyond since these can carry bacteria. If you are consuming blue cheese, quesco fresco, feta, etc., ensure that the label mentions that these have been made using pasteurized milk.
You don’t have to curb the caffeine content in your diet completely, but limit it to one or two cups daily.
Incorporate your daily diet with a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals along with a lot of water. Continue eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and proteins on a daily basis.
The iron content in your daily consumption has to be maintained since your baby is growing and iron is essential for supplying oxygen to the infant. Lack of oxygen can cause complications like anemia, postpartum depression or even premature birth.
Eat more of leafy greens, nuts, lentils, beans, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, etc. Eat strawberries, tomatoes, oranges and orange juices. Doctors recommend approximately 27 mgs of iron daily.
This nutrient is now needed not just for the bones, but for the growth of the circulatory system, nerves and muscles of the baby. You should consume around 1000 mgs of calcium daily for a healthy development of the infant.
This means you must have sufficient helpings of dairy products, white beans, almonds, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, fruit juices, soy milk, blackstrap molasses, tofu, sesame seeds, bokchoy, collards and cereals.
Also known as folic acid, this Vitamin B is crucial for the growth and development of the infant. It helps in keeping the defects of the neural tube as bay which includes premature labour and spina bifida. Research shows that it also prevents congenital heart defects.
Therefore, try to consume around 800 micro grams of folic daily. You can eat oranges, different kinds of legumes, dark leafy green vegetables, whole grains like rice etc.
4. Vitamin D
This vitamin is important for the development of the baby’s teeth and bones. Even though standing in the sun is one of the ways of Vitamin D consumption, you will still have to eat milk and cereals to get your daily dosage.
Other sources to meet your daily requirement of 15 micro grams include cheese, mushrooms that have been exposed to the sun and fortified juices.
5. Omega-3 Fatty acids
For vegetarians, flax seeds, chia seeds and some kinds of algae are the only source of this component. This fatty acid or more prominently DHA is necessary for the proper development of the infant’s brain and eyes. It also helps in the development of the central nervous system and the immune system.
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This component is extremely important for the growth of the baby’s brain. You can get iodine from dried seaweed, iodized salt, yogurt and cow milk.
Consume protein-rich items on a daily basis and include several helpings of the same throughout the day. Vegetarians can draw their daily protein requirement from nuts, sunflower seeds, lentils, kidney beans, roasted chickpeas, cashews, almonds, legumes, soy food, dairy products (like cottage cheese, yogurt) and nut butter.
Foods to eat when pregnant third trimester
The last lap of your pregnancy is, undoubtedly, the best because you will soon deliver your beloved child. In the last three months, you are allowed more calories.
- Your folic acid needs will have to be upped from what you consumed in your second trimester. This means you will have to consume more green vegetables daily. These have to be fortified with more minerals and vitamins. So, read the labels of the breakfast cereals for increased mineral content. Eat about four to five fruits and vegetables every day to maintain the required fiber level.
- The amount of Vitamin C also has to be increased by at least 25% during the last three months. This means you will have to eat fruit like a grapefruit, clementine, blueberries, strawberries, black currants to increase your Vitamin C consumption.
- The amount of Vitamin A also has to be increased from the previous months, so try and eat more vegetables, fruits and dairy products with low fat. Dairy products should be consumed at least thrice a day.
- Protein enriched food items like soya, lentils, tofu, seeds and nuts should still be consumed around three times a day.
- Starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, cereals, pasta, rice, noodles and couscous should be eaten more since they will make you feel full for longer period of time.
- Make your diet fiber-rich with more pulses, beans, peas, brown rice and nuts an important part of your diet during this time because constipation is one of major problems that plague pregnant women.
- Vitamins are essential throughout the nine months for placenta development and muscular development of the baby. During this last trimester include healthy portions of bananas, prunes, citrus fruits, chickpeas and carrot juice to maintain the vitamin requirement.
- Eat more healthy snacks to meet up the extra calorie requirement instead of eating chocolates, biscuits and cakes which are high on fat and sugar.
- Hydration is important for pregnant women because the lack of water can lead to premature labor. If it seems difficult to consume water continuously, try drinking vegetable or fruit smoothies and juices. These will help to maintain the required water level in the body.
Eating the right pregnancy diet is the base for giving birth to a healthy baby. There might be complications in a pregnancy, but the food for pregnant women is the key to getting most of this journey right. Eat healthy, stay safe and bring home your gorgeous bundle of joy!