How can a well-balanced, nutritional pregnancy diet benefit you and your baby? One, it helps your baby develop well inside your womb. Two, it can also ease discomfort during pregnancy in the form of vomiting, heartburn, dizziness and nausea.
Let’s have a look at your changing nutritional needs, trimester-by-trimester:
First Trimester (Conception - 12 weeks)
At this stage, your baby is developing rapidly. From an embryo with just a few cells, he acquires a human-like appearance with eyes, ears, fingers and toes, vital organs and genitals. As your body adjusts to the sudden hormonal changes, you might suffer pregnancy problems—vomiting, frequent urination, heartburn, food cravings and aversions, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
To address these early pregnancy problems, eat light, frequent and fibre-rich meals six times daily. Address nausea with fruits and healthy snacks with a slight sour taste (citrus flavours). Do not use artificial sweeteners; keep away from spicy, greasy foods. Give up smoking and alcohol, and cut down on caffeine. If you still feel severe discomfort, see your doctor at once.
Second Trimester (13 - 28 weeks)
From your 13th to 28th weeks of pregnancy, your baby would have developed fully functioning organs, muscles and nervous system. At this stage, certain earlier problems such as nausea and fatigue should subside. Your baby bump, however, grows every day.
Go for high-protein foods, such as nuts, seeds, lean red meat, poultry, fish, pasteurised milk and dairy products. Add healthy fats and oils—mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6)—from red palm oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish and seafood.
Third Trimester (29 - 40 weeks)
During your third trimester, your baby's organs would be complete and fully functional. While he gets bigger every week, his weight will put pressure on your organs, causing you shortness of breath, frequent urination, and an increase in appetite.
As baby's nutrition needs increase, you will need more protein, folic acid, calcium, iron and vitamins. The right foods and mix of meat and vegetables can prevent maternal overweight or oversized foetus that causes dystocia (abnormal, slow, or difficult childbirth).
Know that every mother and baby's nutrition needs may vary. Go for regular prenatal check-ups to ensure safe and healthy development for you and your baby.