Pregnancy diet: the three trimesters
Your little bun in the oven needs certain ingredients and so do you. Read about what to eat when you’re pregnant.
At a glance
First things first – a daily folic acid supplement will protect baby
Vitamin D supplements help you absorb calcium, to strengthen your baby’s bones
Eating for two isn’t really a thing
Eggs can be safe served runny – if you source the right kind
First trimester (week 0 - week 13)
Let’s talk about that whole ‘eating for two’ thing. It’s a bit of a misconception unfortunately - conception pun not intended, but noted. At the beginning of pregnancy you should be eating the same amount as usual. But there are a few things worth knowing when you’re doing the food shop.
If you’ve got morning sickness, there’s some evidence that ginger may help during those delicate first 12 weeks. Of course you may be rolling your eyes right now if you’ve already discovered that other pregnancy myth - sickness doesn’t know when it’s morning and is known to arrive whenever it feels like it. Hmmmph.
Foods rich in iron, vitamin D, protein, and folate are yays. So foods like lean red meat, oily fish, broccoli, eggs, lentils and spinach are mega yays.
Folate is important as it can help prevent some birth defects including spina bifida. You can’t rely on food alone to give you all the folate you need, which is why pregnant women are supposed to take a daily folic acid supplement.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium in the body – this is to help keep bones, teeth and muscles strong. Anyone carrying a baby should consider taking a Vitamin D supplement to get their daily dose.
If you’re low on iron you could feel tired and may suffer from anaemia – If this happens your midwife may ask you to take iron supplements.
Sadly when it comes to food, there are quite a few nays when you’re pregnant. It’s important to take a note of these because some foods can actually harm your baby and their development. Some of the no-nos are soft unpasteurised cheese, raw or rare meat, raw seafood and pâté. Coffee should be limited to two cups a day. Regarding eggs, the advice used to be not to have runny yolks as there was a risk of salmonella, but eggs produced under the British Lion Code are now considered safe to eat runny or raw when pregnant. So if you’re planning on some poached eggs this weekend then just look for the red lion stamp and check they’re in date. This article gives you all the facts you need so you’ll know what to eat and what not to eat.
Second trimester (week 14 - 26)
Your baby is becoming a proper little person now with their brain, eyes and bones starting to develop.
Getting a portion of oily fish on your plate each week is a good plan. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are important for baby’s brain cells. For their bones and teeth you can try drinking more milk to get much-needed calcium.
If you’ve booked a babymoon or are out enjoying some sunshine make sure you’re covered in high SPF sunscreen because being pregnant makes you more prone to sun damage – it’s yet another thing to blame on those hormones. With your new sun-safety routine you’ll need to get your vitamin D elsewhere to help you absorb calcium. Vitamin D supplements are a plus throughout pregnancy.
Third trimester (week 27 - 40)
Now’s the time to allow yourself that extra portion. But even now, it’s not eating for two; more like eating for one and a bit. In the third trimester you might need an extra 200 calories a day. It’s a good idea to eat wholegrain carbs or fruits and veggies which will add fibre to prevent constipation. Fresh fruit also gives you vitamin C to help the old immune system. Vitamin C protects cells and helps keep them heathy so it’s really important you get plenty of it during pregnancy.