Essential Food to eat during pregnancy especially the first trimester
Pregnancy is a state when a fertilised egg develops in the uterus to form a human or a mammal. The entire process from fertilisation to birth takes an average of 266–270 or maximum of 288 days, or about nine months.
During pregnancy, various things change in the human system which good nutrition can be a basis for the fetus to develop with no complications aside regular clinical check ups.
Although you are pregnant from the moment of conception, when a male spèrm fertilises your ovum or egg. The first trimester of pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period through to week 12. This is because most women who conceive naturally won’t know the date of conception.
During the first trimester a woman’s body experience a surge in hormones which can lead to nausea. The hormone progesterone in particular can trigger digestive discomfort, including constipation and reflux.
In early pregnancy, many pregnant women find no desire to eat some of the healthy foods they used to like, such as fresh veggies or lean meats.
During pregnancy, good nutrition is more important than ever. To support a healthy pregnancy and the baby’s development, there is the need for an expectant mother to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products in pregnancy diet.
In the first trimester, a baby’s energy needs are still quite small so an expectant mother is supposed to eat about 2,000 calories a day in the first trimester, though a health practitioner may recommend more depending on the activity level of the pregnant woman.
Focus on eating three meals a day, plus one or two snacks. If a pregnant woman does not crave for or has a trouble with portion sizes, then concentration should be on quality food, making sure that the food one eats is both nutritious and tastes good to your satisfaction.
In finding a nutritious food good for the baby and the expectant mother there is the need to fill up on essential pregnancy nutrients throughout the nine months, but in the first trimester, focus on Folic acid, Iron, Vitamin C, Calcium, Protein, Potassium and DHA.
1) Folic acid: This is the most essential micronutrient in terms of first trimester nutrition and prenatal nutrition in general. That’s because folic acid also known as vitamin B9 or folate, when it’s in food form plays a key role in preventing neural tube defects. To get the recommended 600 micrograms per day, take a prenatal vitamin daily and eat oranges, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, kidney beans, nuts, cauliflower and beets.
2) Iron: Iron is increasingly important as your blood supply ramps up to meet the demands of your growing baby. The goal of 27 milligrams per day can be a challenge to reach through food alone, so make sure you’re getting a solid dose of iron in your prenatal vitamin to reduce risk for pregnancy anemia. Work good sources like beef, chicken, eggs, tofu and spinach into your meal plan too.
3) Vitamin C: C-rich foods like oranges, broccoli and strawberries promote bone and tissue development in your growing baby and boost the absorption of iron. You should aim for 85 milligrams per day.
4) Calcium. It’s critical for your baby’s developing teeth and bones. Since your growing baby will take calcium from your own stores, too little calcium in your diet can result in brittle bones (osteoporosis) later on. You can generally get the recommended 1,000 milligrams per day through a well-balanced diet including milk, cheese, yogurt and dark leafy greens, but if you’re worried you might be falling short, ask your OB/GYN if you should take a supplement.
5) Protein: It’s key for muscle development for both you and your baby, and supports uterine tissue growth. Aim for about 75 grams per day. Good sources include eggs, Greek yogurt and chicken.
6) Potassium: It teams up with sodium to help your body maintain proper fluid balance and also regulates blood pressure. Aim to get 2,900 milligrams per day through your prenatal vitamin and foods like bananas, apricots and avocados.
7) DHA: A key omega-3 fatty acid, DHA is found in low-mercury fish like anchovies, herring and sardines. You may be too queasy for seafood these days, so ask your doctor about taking a DHA supplement.
After the above quality nutrition food for the first trimester, a pregnant woman must eat the below food for the entire nine months to give birth to a healthy baby.
Eggs are a great source of protein, a crucial part of your pregnancy diet. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of the cells in your body – and your baby’s.
Eggs also contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals, including choline. Choline which is contained mostly in the yolks, so be sure to include them. it helps a baby’s brain and spinal cord develop properly, and helps prevent certain birth defects.
Combine eggs with whatever veggies and cheese you have on hand and you’ll have the makings of a frittata. Leftovers, if there are any, they are perfect for breakfast the next day.
Recipe: Frittata with chard, red onion, and feta
Recipe: Ratatouille with baked eggs
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for your baby’s brain development and may even boost your mood. Salmon is an exceptionally good source. Salmon also provides protein and vitamin D, which your baby needs for healthy bones and teeth.
Salmon (as well as herring, trout, anchovies, sardines, and shad) is a low-mercury option for the 8 to 12 ounces of seafood pregnant women are encouraged to eat each week. Find out more about eating fish safely during pregnancy.
Recipe: Pan-seared salmon with lentils and leeks
Recipe: Roasted salmon BLTs with herbed mayo
Beans – including legumes like lentils, peas, and peanuts – are a good source of protein and an excellent source of iron, folate, potassium, and magnesium. They’re all important when you’re pregnant.
Beans are also a great food for fiber, which can help prevent and relieve two common pregnancy discomforts: constipation and hemorrhoids.
Try tossing edamame (cooked soybeans, which are also an excellent source of essential fatty acids) in soups, salads, or stir-fries. Or snack on roasted edamame.
Recipe: Creamy white beans with sausage, broccolini, and bread crumbs (extra easy, thanks to canned beans)
Recipe: Tofu, broccoli, and sugar snap pea stir-fry
4) Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes get their orange colour from carotenoids, plant pigments that are converted to vitamin A in our bodies. Your baby needs vitamin A for healthy bones, lungs, eyes, and skin development. This sweet veggie is also a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of vitamin B6 (which may help with morning sickness), potassium, and fiber (especially if you keep the skin on).
Recipe: Curried chickpea and sweet potato turnovers
Recipe: Baked sweet potato fries (not just for kids!)
5) Whole grains
Whole grains are high in fiber and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, folic acid (if fortified), magnesium, the antioxidant vitamin E, and the mineral selenium. They also contain phytonutrients, plant compounds that protect cells.
Trade white bread for whole grain, and sample different kinds of whole grains – from barley and buckwheat to oats and spelt – in your pregnancy diet.
Recipe: Chicken soup with farro and shiitake mushrooms
Recipe: Quinoa with shrimp, tomato, and avocado
Walnuts are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s. They’re also a good source of magnesium, fiber, and protein (which you need more of now that you’re pregnant). Grab a handful of walnuts for an on-the-run snack, or toss some into a salad.
Check out other nuts, like almonds and pistachios, and nut and seed butters, like tahini, for similar benefits.
Recipe: Kale salad with dried fruit and toasted almonds
7) Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein of regular yogurt. Plus, it’s a great source of probiotics, B vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium. Calcium helps keep your own bones strong and helps your baby develop a healthy skeleton.
Yogurt is a versatile breakfast ingredient and a wonderful addition to savory dishes too. Drinking milk is another good way to get calcium every day.
Recipe: Roasted cauliflower steaks with herbed yogurt.
Recipe: Honey-yogurt mustard dipping sauce (baked chicken tenders optional)
8) Broccoli and dark leafy greens
Broccoli and dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are prenatal superfoods, loaded with vitamins and nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, iron, and folate. They’re also rich in antioxidants and fiber, which can ease constipation.
It’s easy to up the amount of dark leafy greens in your diet. Just chop the greens coarsely and toss into smoothies, soups, omelets, or stir-fries.
These recipes offer healthy options for comfort food.
Recipe: Chicken and biscuits with Swiss chard
Recipe: Roasted butternut squash and kale lasagna
9) Lean meats and poultry
Meat is an excellent source of high-quality protein and a good source of B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Iron delivers oxygen to the cells in your body, and you need more of it during pregnancy.
Look for cuts that are around 95 to 98 percent fat-free.
Skip deli meats and hot dogs, though, unless they’re heated until steaming hot. There’s a small risk of infection from bacteria and parasites such as listeria, toxoplasma, or salmonella, which can be dangerous during pregnancy for you and your baby.
Recipe: Steak fajitas with peppers and onions, featuring flank steak, a lean and flavorful cut of beef
Recipe: Yellow curry with chicken, spinach, and butternut squash
Recipe: Grilled chicken with pumpkin-seed pesto
10) Colorful fruits and veggies
Eating plenty of green, red, orange, yellow, and purple fruits and vegetables helps you and your baby get a variety of nutrients. Each color group provides different vitamins and minerals. Bell peppers, for example, are high in vitamin C (which will help you absorb iron), while berries are bursting with antioxidants. Salads are an easy way to combine colorful fruits and veggies.
Considering buying organic produce but concerned about cost? Check the Dirty Dozen list of 12 fruits and vegetables that might be worth the extra money because they have the most pesticide residue.
Recipe: Steamed cod with spring veggies
Recipe: Zucchini noodles with sesame sauce
Avocados are high in monounsaturated fatty acids (the healthy fats), which help build your baby’s skin and brain. They’re also high in vitamin K, antioxidants, and folate, which helps prevent certain birth defects.
Plagued by leg cramps? The potassium in avocados might help. Constipated? The fiber content is an antidote. Suffering from morning sickness? The vitamin B6 in avocados – which is also good for your baby’s developing brain – can help ease nausea.
Avocados deliver a lot of flavor, creamy texture, and nutrition. Try spreading on whole-grain toast, or add to salads and smoothies.
Recipe: Carnitas with avocado and pico de gallo
Recipe: Black bean and sweet potato tacos with avocado
12) Dried fruit
Portable and nutrient dense, dried fruit offers a good occasional alternative to the fresh fruit that’s so important in your pregnancy diet. Look for dried fruit without added sugar.
Depending on the dried fruit you choose, you’ll boost your diet with a variety of vitamins and minerals (like iron), as well as antioxidants and fiber. Prunes, for example, are a tried-and-true remedy for the constipation that plagues so many pregnant women.
Recipe: Grilled pork tenderloin with barley and dried apricots
Recipe: Turkey meatballs with prunes.
Eating well during pregnancy doesn’t mean eating a lot more. It is therefore important to note that starting off at a healthy weight, one does not need additional calories during the first trimester. A pregnant woman will need about 340 extra calories a day in the second trimester and about 450 extra calories a day in the third trimester.
There’s the need to know the nutritious food to eat during pregnancy. This will help in order not to give birth to a malnourished child as some foods can be dangerous to the fetus and the baby when one is pregnant so maintain a good balanced diet during pregnancy.