Most Moms to Be know that  a diet consisting of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and low fat dairy are important for anyone trying to achieve optimum health.  During pregnancy,  a well-balanced diet is even more crucial to ensure the health and growth of the fetus.  Contrary to current belief, it isn’t how much you eat but WHAT you eat during pregnancy that is important.  Here are some of the most important diet recommendations.

1st trimester

Eat for one, not two!!!! In your first trimester your energy needs are about the same as they were pre pregnancy.  Depending on your pre pregnancy weight,  you should gain no more than 1.8 kg in the first trimester.

Choose nutrient dense foods.  Particularly crucial for the first trimester are foods rich in folic acid (fortified cereals, pastas and breads), calcium (low fat dairy, green leafy veggies), and iron (green leafy veggies, beans, fortified cereals, red meat, chicken, fish).  Most likely your physician will recommend additional supplementation in the first trimester.

Limit caffeine:  although there is currently  no clear research on the effects of caffeine during pregnancy if you can’t eliminate it completely limit intake to 300 mg a day (which equates to 2-3 cups per day).

How to manage morning sickness:  Morning sickness strikes most often when the stomach is empty. Even though you may not feel like eating try nibbling on dry cereal or crackers just to keep a bit of food in the stomach.

2nd and 3rd trimester

Still eat for one, not two!!!!!! In the 2nd and 3rd trimester, your energy needs increase by only 300 calories a day. This is basically equivalent to one substantial snack (i.e. cup of yogurt and a fruit). A Lot less than you think!

Enhance your babies brain development by consuming foods rich in the Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid DHA. DHA is a major component of the brain and retina.  DHA in the diet  is especially important in  the last trimester (when baby’s brain growth is rapid) and during lactation. Also, research has shown moms with DHA rich diets are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression.  Sources of DHA: oily fish, salmon, trout, herring, anchovies, sardines, eggs, walnuts, flaxseed.   Some prenatal vitamins now have added DHA. *do not consume more than 2 servings of oily fish per week.

Calcium is crucial.  Actual calcium requirements don’t technically increase significantly from pre-pregnancy requirements. However, if you do not consume at least 4 servings daily of calcium rich foods your baby will take the calcium directly from your  supply. This means weaker bones and teeth for you. Regular dentist check up s and cleanings are encouraged at this time.

Avoid Constipation.  Keep active and  drink plenty of water (at least 1.5 L per day).

Sonja Kjekstad is a Registered Dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. She is currently working as a nutrition consultant at SKIN medical aesthetic clinic. For more information: skjekstad

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