Foods for Each Trimester
Finding out you are pregnant can be one of the most exciting days of your life, and typically the positive emotions are accompanied by some uncertainty. Knowing what to be feeding your body to be able to grow a baby can be overwhelming and proper prenatal nutrition is essential. To ensure vibrant health for everyone, what you eat should be made a priority during this time.
Nutrition is a vital aspect of pregnancy because consuming an insufficient amount of nutrients can lead to issues, typically for you, as your baby will take whatever it needs from your body depleting your own nutrients. What you eat, and therefore feed your baby, is a part of your pregnancy that you have complete control over. Eating a balanced whole foods diet before and during pregnancy will create a lifetime of healthy eating. This includes during breastfeeding to create a rich and plentiful milk supply, raising your toddler, and beyond. These eating habits can even be passed on to your children as they develop the ability to choose what they eat.
You may experience nausea, fatigue, or consistent excitement that could prevent you from consuming adequate nutrients, however, you should set meal and snack reminders for yourself to ensure you do meet your caloric needs. During the second trimester, you want to aim for an extra 300 calories, and then an extra 500 calories your third trimester. These added calories are recommended to be coming from nutrient dense foods as you and your baby will require more nutrients as your pregnancy progresses.
B-complex vitamins. The most widely known of these is vitamin B9, or folate. Folate is required in high amounts during your first trimester because this is when the formation of your baby’s spinal cord is happening. Folate helps to properly form the spinal cord and prevent your baby from the risk of neural tube defects, infection, paralysis, and incontinence.
Food Sources of Folate: Dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, asparagus, broccoli, lentils, legumes, grass-fed liver, avocado, okra, Brussels sprouts, turnip greens, mustard greens, papaya, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, almonds, cauliflower, beets, celery, carrots, and squash.
Food cravings, nausea, an intense sense of smell, and extreme fatigue are all challenges mothers experience in the first trimester. Supplementation is a great way to receive nutrients, however, they should not replace whole foods but complement them. When finding the right supplement for you, ensure it contains folate and not the synthetic form of B9, folic acid. In addition, you can take it one step further and have the methylate form of folate (l-methylfolate) which allows your body to absorb it right away rather than having to convert it to its methylated form before absorption.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed to support your immune system, which is often overworked in early pregnancy.
Food sources of vitamin C: Guava, citrus fruits, blackcurrant, kale, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, kiwi, orange, papaya, broccoli, parsley, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, peas, and mango.
Vitamin K. The essential role of K vitamins is the development of proper facial proportions, and the much more important and fundamental development of the nervous system. Vitamin K2 has a higher rate of transport across the placenta than vitamin K1.
Food sources: Vitamin K1 is found in leafy greens while vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods and grass-fed animal fats—especially natto, goose liver, cheese, and to a lesser extent butter and egg yolks.
Iron. Is the key nutrient in the second trimester when your baby’s blood volume increases by 40-50%. Iron’s main role is to transport oxygen to all parts of the body - mom’s and baby’s. Before beginning iron supplementation, speak to your health care provider for guidance as it should not be supplemented unless tests show you are deficient.
Food sources of iron: Heme sources are oysters, sardines, clams, egg yolk, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef and beef liver, and organic chicken. Non-heme sources are spirulina, lentils, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, dark chocolate, spinach, soaked black beans, and raisins.
Vitamin C. Assists and increases iron absorption during this time of rapid blood volume expansion.
Iron and protein. These nutrients are needed to support the peak of baby’s growth, maintain increased blood volume, cellular development and building a healthy placenta.
Calcium and vitamin D3. Working together, these nutrients support rapid bone growth and development. Vitamin D3 also plays an important role in lung development.
Food sources of calcium: broccoli, collard greens, spinach, turnip greens, kale, almonds, beet greens, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts, sardines, salmon, organic yogurt, and kefir
Food sources of vitamin D3: Herring, salmon, sardines, pasture-raised egg yolks, beef liver, cod liver oil, caviar, and mushrooms
Essential fatty acids (EFAs). These healthy fats are imperative to your baby’s brain development, which is made up of over 60% fat, as well as heart and eye development. Additionally, they increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, all crucial during pregnancy. EFA’s will also help you by lowering your risk of postpartum depression and improve cognitive function.
Foods sources of essential fatty acids: flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, almonds, dark leafy greens, olive oil, avocado, and coconut oil