During pregnancy, as the baby negotiates its way through three different stages of pregnancy called trimesters, what foods to take becomes important. Your body too changes its shape as it makes room within itself for the baby’s growth. You need to eat a variety of foods that are beneficial to the baby. These foods also help you in maintaining health and preparing to breastfeed. Below is the list of foods that you ought to consume as you make your way through nine months of preparing for your baby’s birth.
The First Trimester: Consume Nutritious Foods Containing Folate
The first stage of pregnancy lasts for about three and a half months or 14 weeks, during which stage you may experience the dreaded morning sickness, sore and enlarged breasts, and the advice of your health care provider that you get enough vitamins, minerals and nutrients as they are essential for growth and development.
You require around 2200 calories a day to keep your baby in health. You need well balanced, healthy diets with adequate fiber; prenatal vitamins as prescribed; avoiding of the use of alcohol and tobacco; small, more frequent meals that will help you if you are nauseous, get good nutrition. Let us take a look at the foods you will be asked to eat during the first trimester when your diet chart is made. You might be advised to vary your intake of these foods. But they remain more or less constant through your pregnancy and when you breastfeed. Eat lots of fruit and green leafy vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals. Take moderate amounts of low fat dairy foods and lean meats and small amounts of foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Consume dried beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and low fat milk, cheese and yoghurt. A folate supplement should be taken prior to conception and for the first three months of pregnancy to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folate is a B vitamin that is essential for cell growth and reproduction. It is found in green plants, liver, yeast and fresh fruit.
The Second Trimester: Increase Food Intake With More Iron To Your Diet
The second stage of pregnancy lasts until the end of the seventh month and is, for many women, the easiest stage of pregnancy as they start to regain some of their energy. It is during this stage that the stomach begins to expand and that you are pregnant becomes noticeable. At this time any feelings of morning sickness should dissipate, although some women may continue to vomit well into the second stage. At this point you may experience the baby moving and kicking in the womb. This is the period when a sex determination test can tell you whether you are giving birth to a boy or girl.
What should you eat during the second stage? Well, there are several foods. During this phase you have to increase your intake by 2500 calories/day, so eat the foods mentioned above in larger amounts. Continue to maintain a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber; take vitamin supplements if prescribed and avoid the use of alcohol.
You have to increase your intake of iron during this stage. The iron that your fetus consumes from you will last it through five or six months after birth. So eat rich sources of iron like red meat and sources of Vitamin C like oranges to help absorb the iron.
The Third Trimester: Go Heavy On Calcium
The third stage of pregnancy starts from the seventh month until the time when the baby is born, at nine months. It is marked by a surge of feeling for the baby, as also more anxiety and greater sensitivity towards the environment. This is a phase of greater pain in your lower back; with the increased size and weight of your baby causing the ache, making you feel discomfited, tired and anxious.
Your daily requirement remains at 2500 calories; you may need to resume small frequent feedings to prevent heartburn; continue prenatal vitamins as prescribed. Continue to avoid the use of alcohol; get yourself adequately hydrated and avoid overheating to protect the baby and you. You may feel like eating for two people now that you can physically sense the baby’s movements. There is no need to eat more food. You may only need to increase your intake of the same foods by about 10 per cent or so. However, you have to increase your intake of calcium during the third trimester. The baby is developing bones, if it does not find the required doses of calcium from the mother’s diet, it begins to draw from her bones. So, stock up on dairy products like milk and cottage cheese, and on soymilk, for the required calcium. You will need the calcium to make milk for breastfeeding too.
Be prepared to take on each stage of your pregnancy, armed with adequate nutrition and vitamin supplements.