Pregnancy brings in a lot of changes (physical, mental and emotional) in a woman’s life. The diet of a pregnant woman is very crucial. The baby’s nutritional requirements are derived directly from the mother. Thus, in spite of the morning sickness and associated health complications, a pregnant woman needs to eat well.
With each trimester, as the baby grows, the dietary requirements of a pregnant woman also changes. Foods considered healthy under normal conditions may be unhealthy for a pregnant woman. Ideally, it is best to go with a doctor-recommended diet.
Diet during the first trimester
The first trimester is a critical phase in pregnancy. The diet chosen should be balanced and provide the mother and the baby with maximum nutrition and health benefits.
One can never go wrong with vegetables. Vegetables like tomato, red and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, carrots, corn, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and beans are extremely healthy and nutritious.
Spinach is a rich source of folate, vitamin A, C, and K, fibre, iron and manganese. Beans, on the other hand, are packed with fibre and proteins.
Try and have 3-4 servings (1 serving ~ 1 cup of vegetables) of these vegetables daily.
1. Fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits are a rich source of vitamin C. Banana, on the other hand, are loaded with fibres, potassium, and vitamins (B6 and C). It comes as a great relief for pregnant women with morning sickness. 3-4 servings of fresh fruits a day can work wonders. Fruit juice, if included, should be made from fresh fruits.
2. Proteins: Proteins like lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils, dry fruits, and eggs are healthy and a must in the diet (~ 2-3 servings per day).
3. Dairy products: Milk, butter, yoghurt, and cheese are all an excellent source of calcium and a must during the first trimester. For women with lactose intolerance, soymilk (calcium fortified) is a good option. Servings should be between 3-4 times per day.
4. Whole grains: Whole grains provide the body with the necessary dietary fibre. A pregnant woman should have a minimum of 3 servings of whole grains (cereals, bread) a day.
Diet during the second trimester
The second trimester is comparatively easier. The nutritional requirements also undergo some changes.
1. Fruits and vegetables: Avocados and strawberries are full of nutritional benefits. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and kale are an excellent source of iron and folate. Daily servings should be between 5-6 times a day.
2. Proteins: Beans, lean meats, fish, lentils, and eggs are rich in iron and proteins and should be taken daily (~2-3 servings).
3. Dairy products (usually low fat) takes care of the calcium requirements of the body.
Daily Servings: ~2-3 times a day.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids play a pivotal role in the brain development of the baby. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and should be taken once a week (or as recommended by the doctor).
2. Whole grain carbohydrates like cereals, wholegrain bread, potatoes, and rice should also be included in the diet.
Diet during the third trimester
As the third-trimester approaches, the diet undergoes a few more modifications. The following foods, without a doubt, are the best during the third trimester.
1. Chicken, beans, turkey, pork and green salads are loaded with proteins: Most of these foods are a good source of zinc and iron and should be included in the diet.
2. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids: It is important for the baby brain development, making it an in the diet.
3. The health benefits of eggs are known to all: Eggs are a rich source of choline, which ensures the normal functions of cells. It also aids in the proper memory development of the baby.
4. Nuts (cashews, walnuts, and pistachios): These are loaded with proteins, fats (healthy) and essential fibres and are ideal during the third trimester.
5. Fruits and vegetables: Apple, pear, berries, kiwi, melons, and oranges, and vegetables like potato, beetroot, and spinach should be an important part of the diet.