1st TRIMESTER: No extra calories needed!

Folic Acid for the normal development of your baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord.

Your baby’s brain, skull and spine form during the first few weeks of gestation, before you even know you are expecting! Folic acid, or folate, is a B-vitamin needed to avoid neural tube defects known as spina bifida.

Tip: Take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet everyday + eat foods rich in this vitamin.

Good food sources of folic acid: dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spring greens, kale, okra), pulses (chick peas, beans, lentils), corn, baked potatoes, asparagus, fresh peas, oranges and orange juice, eggs, brown rice and foods fortified with folic acid (breakfast cereals, bran flakes, wholegrain breads and polyunsaturated margarines).

Tip: Folic acid is easily lost during cooking, so steam vegetables or cook in only a little water for a short time.

Iron to prevent anaemia, infections, to support baby’s growth and brain development and to allow baby to build sufficient stores for later use.

Good food sources of iron:

  • High quality protein sources: lean meat, skinless chicken, fish, turkey, well-cooked eggs.
  • Vegetarian protein sources: pulses (cooked or canned), legumes, nuts.
  • Other sources: green leafy vegetables, enriched breads and cereals.

Tip: For better iron absorption, have a vitamin C rich fruit/veggie with or just after your meal and avoid tea 1 hour before and 1 hour after a meal containing iron.

Calcium for your baby’s bones and teeth and to keep yours healthy too!

Good food sources of calcium: low fat dairy products (skimmed milk, low fat cheeses and yoghurt), fish with edible bones like sardines, tofu (a vegetable protein made from soya beans), breakfast cereals and bread, plain almonds, oranges and dried fruits such as figs and apricots, and green leafy vegetables like watercress, broccoli or kale.

Vitamin D to help your body absorb and use calcium

Only a few foods contain vitamin D: oily fish like sardines, hardboiled egg, low-fat milk, asparagus, fortified margarines, some breakfast cereals, taramasalata.

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight (especially early morning) on your skin. There’s no need to sunbathe though as the amount of sun needed to make sufficient vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning.

Coping with nausea

  • Avoid staying on an empty stomach: eat small, regular meals as explained above.
  • Don’t drink with meals, drink between meals instead.
  • Avoid strong odours.
  • Foods that may ease nausea: cinnamon, basil, ginger, fennel, fresh mint, lemon.

More information on first trimester nutrition

2nd TRIMESTER: Still no extra calories needed!

Vitamin C to form collagen, a structural protein that’s a component of cartilage, tendons, bones, and skin

Good food sources of Vitamin C: citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons), fruits and vegetables with a deep colour (kiwi, berries, guavas, cantaloupes, pineapple, pumpkin, squash) and dark green vegetables (spinach, Brussels’ sprouts, bell peppers, broccoli, pak choy).

Omega-3 (DHA) for brain, nervous and immune system development

Good food sources of omega-3: fish and shellfish low in mercury (shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, catfish) and omega-3 enriched egg.

Magnesium to reduce cramps in mommy and strengthen baby’s bones

Good food sources of Magnesium:

  • Wheat bran, bran flakes, oatmeal
  • Almonds, cashews, soybeans, nuts
  • Beans (pinto, black, kidney, black eye) and legumes
  • Salmon, halibut
  • Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • Banana, raisins, avocado

Coping with constipation

  • Increase your daily fluid intake, especially water.
  • Make sure you’re eating at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Limit refined carbs, choose more wholegrain products.
  • Be physically active, choose a low-risk exercise like walking for 30minutes per day on most days.

More information on second trimester nutrition

3rd TRIMESTER: Now you need 200 extra calories daily!

200 calories: Does that sound like a lot for you? It actually isn’t. Here’s how to get these extra calories in a healthy way:

  • 2 slices of wholemeal toast with a teaspoon of low fat cheese spread.
  • A jacket potato with 25grams of low fat cheese.
  • ½ cup edamame.
  • 1 whole wheat English muffin with 1tsp of low fat cheese spread served with a fresh fruit.
  • ½ pita bread with 2tbsp hummus spread or 40grams of lean meat (size of a small matchbox) and some raw vegetables.
  • 250ml of fruit smoothie made with soy milk/ low fat milk or a low fat yoghurt and a blend of available fruits.

If you have any questions or are worried about anything, don’t hesitate to contact your OBGYN, registered dietitian or any health care assistant.

More information on third trimester nutrition