Your Healthy Pregnancy: One Mom’s Nutrition Tips for Every Trimester
Here are some tips that worked for me during each stage of my pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet or exercise program, especially when pregnant. Your doctor will put you on the right track for nutrition advice and the best foods to eat when pregnant. Read on for tips for a healthy pregnancy.
First trimesterKnow your nutritional dos and don’ts. When I found out I was pregnant, my doctor told me about foods and drinks I should avoid including unpasteurized dairy products, alcohol and raw or undercooked meat and eggs. I also limited my caffeine intake to 200 mg a day, about two cups of regular coffee. When it comes to nutrition, folic acid is one of the most important nutrients you need during pregnancy. Folic acid can be found in prenatal vitamins as well as leafy greens and legumes. You should also increase your intake of calcium, iron and healthy fat.
Get moving. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “healthy women should get 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise like brisk walking during, and after, their pregnancy.” Unless there’s a medical reason to avoid exercise, you should begin or continue these activities. You should, however, avoid activities and sports that could increase your risk of falling or abdominal injury. These include things like basketball, skating and water skiing.
Cope with morning sickness. Eating may be the last thing you want to do if you’re dealing with nausea or vomiting, but it’s still important to get something in your stomach. Try to eat smaller meals more frequently, and stay hydrated with small sips of water or tea. Ginger, lemon, peppermint and bland foods like dry toast or crackers have been known to help with queasiness.
Second trimesterWatch your calorie intake. The saying “you’re eating for two” doesn’t mean two adults. You only need to consume about 300 extra calories per day in the second trimester. This is equal to a piece of whole grain toast and a tablespoon of peanut butter, or an apple and two glasses of milk. I had already been using the calorie tracking app MyFitnessPal for years, so I simply added these extra calories to my daily goal.
Deal with cravings or aversions. Many women will crave specific foods during pregnancy. During my second trimester, I wanted to eat ice cream almost every day. Other common cravings are spicy foods, fruit or comfort food. It’s ok to give into cravings once in a while. But if your food of choice isn’t part of a balanced diet, try to limit it. Treat yourself once a week, or enjoy your favorite dish in a smaller portion. Some women may actually be turned off by certain foods during pregnancy. Aversions can be an issue if you don’t want to eat foods important for your baby’s growth like vegetables or dairy. If you’re lacking certain nutrients due to an aversion, your doctor may recommend alternative foods or dietary supplements.
Modify your workouts. As you approach the 12-week mark of pregnancy, the fatigue and nausea of the first trimester typically goes away and you may feel a burst of energy. This is a great time to continue or start incorporating some activity. Just don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion because high intensity workouts can reduce blood flow to your uterus. You should be able to carry on a conversation without running out of breath. After the first trimester, you should also avoid lying flat on your back. This position can put pressure on your uterus and reduce blood flow to your baby. Most abdominal exercises can be done standing up. You can find lots of pregnancy-friendly workouts online that you can do from home.
Third trimesterPrepare your food and your body. About a month before my due date I made several freezer meals that I could heat up or throw in the slow cooker. These helped me steer clear of too much fast food or unhealthy snacks. Try HAP’s freezer egg burrito recipefor a quick and easy breakfast. Exercising into your third trimester can help build your strength and endurance to power through labor. I attended low-impact aerobics classes throughout my pregnancy and took regular walks. I even got in two miles the day I went into labor!
Avoid heartburn. Heartburn and indigestion are common complaints during the third trimester. Your growing uterus crowds your stomach, which pushes acid into your esophagus. To prevent heartburn, try eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoid spicy, greasy and fatty foods. Ask your doctor about over-the-counter medications like antacids.
Rest up! Letting your body rest and recover is just as important as staying active. You’ll need all of your strength for labor, and after your baby is born you’ll need to adjust to a whole new schedule. Take time for yourself to sleep, relax and enjoy the end of your pregnancy.
Treat yourself. After months of restrictions and going through delivery, you deserve it! After my daughter, Lucy, was born, I ordered a chocolate milkshake for dinner.
Prep for breastfeeding success. A balanced diet can help fuel your milk supply. Stay hydrated with plenty of water, and aim to eat unprocessed foods like lean meats, whole grains and fresh produce. Some babies can have reactions to your milk if you eat dairy, citrus, spicy foods, or “gassy” vegetables like garlic or broccoli. Tell your doctor if your baby acts differently after a feeding.
Let yourself heal. Your body has gone through a lot over the past nine months. You grew and birthed a human, after all. It can be difficult to adjust to your body after baby. Most doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks before doing any major physical activity. So, rest up and enjoy your new baby. While you may not be able to train for a marathon right away, you can still get out for a walk to get the blood flowing and help you cope with the baby blues Our family walks are a great time to reconnect with my husband and welcome our baby to the neighborhood.
For more pregnancy tips and resources, visit hap.org/maternity.
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Being pregnant can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help.