Your guide to fuelling your body and baby throughout the trimesters
Pregnancy is such an exciting time but it can also be an overwhelming one as you navigate through changes in your body. One of the biggest changes is that you are of course now feeding someone else as well as yourself! With lots of information out there on what to eat, what to avoid and how much to consume, it can be a little confusing. The aim of this article is to give you clarity on the best way to fuel yourself and baby throughout your pregnancy.
The best way to get started is to take a look at the foods below that need to be avoided in order to keep your baby safe.
Foods and drinks to avoid/consume considerably less of:
Unpasteurized, soft blue and mould-ripened cheeses.
Raw or undercooked meat.
Liver and pâté.
Raw or runny eggs that are not British Lion quality.
Swordfish, marlin, shark and raw fish.
Tuna and oily fish such as salmon and mackerel should be limited to two portions per week.
Caffeine should be kept at no more than 200mg day- eg 2 mugs of coffee.
Next up are the foods that are nutrient dense and beneficial for both baby and yourself.
Foods to eat more of:
Fruits and vegetables (think a mix of colours and varieties).
Protein rich foods including beans, pulses, fish, poultry and eggs.
Whole foods such as nuts, grains and seeds. Again, the more variety the better!
Calcium rich foods such as yoghurt, cheddar cheese and milk.
Foods to enjoy in moderation:
Sugary foods such as chocolate, sweets and ice cream.
Foods high in saturated fat for example pastries, biscuits, crisps and cake.
Sweetened drinks such as fizzy drinks, fruit juice and milkshakes.
The first trimester is often the toughest one for mum’s to be as not only is growing a baby exhausting so energy levels are low, but nausea and sickness are often present. This is the time to focus on getting the energy in from foods that are easy to prepare, you feel like eating and will make you feel good! Aim for three good sized meals a day but if that is a struggle instead focus on getting nutrient dense food in through snacks and mini meals.
During the first three months of pregnancy your baby is growing and developing at a rapid pace. This is when the organs start to form and your baby’s heart will start to beat. Whilst it is recommended to take prenatal vitamins to help support the development of the baby, it is also important to get lots of the following nutrients from these natural food sources:
Folic acid. Naturally found in oranges, strawberries, leafy greens and fortified cereals.
Protein. Naturally found in fish, eggs, poultry and chickpeas.
Iron. Naturally found in tofu, spinach and beef.
Vitamin C. Naturally found in broccoli, oranges and strawberries.
Potassium. Naturally found in apricots, bananas and avocados.
Calcium. Naturally found in cheese, yoghurt and dark leafy greens.
As previously mentioned, nausea can play a big part in the first few months of pregnancy. To help relieve these symptoms try eating little and often and keeping really well hydrated by sipping on water, herbal teas or homemade flavored water with berries or mint and cucumber. Ginger can help with sickness so try out my recipe for a First Trimester Smoothie - packed with nutrient dense ingredients to alleviate nausea. Try making Buddha bowls with an array of colour, using quinoa or rice as a base and adding protein (e.g grilled chicken), veggies (e.g shredded carrot and edamame) and seeds (e.g sesame and toasted pumpkin). This one is great to prepare ahead for grab-and-go lunches from the fridge throughout the week as it can be eaten cold.
The second trimester is when you will likely start to notice the change in your physical appearance with a growing bump and breasts. You may have heard the phrase “eating for two” during pregnancy but actually you do not need as many additional calories as you may think. As you come into the next few months of pregnancy you may be feeling an increase in hunger levels and you should be consuming around 200 extra calories per day. If you are particularly active this may need to be increased again. Try to ensure these calories come from well-balanced snacks such as oatcakes with hummus or apple with peanut butter. Hopefully you are now experiencing less sickness than during the first 12 weeks and are waking hungry for a substantial breakfast. The overnight oats recipe would make a great start to the day during pregnancy as you can make it ahead and prepare a few bowls in one go.
The second trimester is when you are likely to have your strongest cravings. But why do we actually get these cravings? Between 50-90% of pregnant women get cravings and yet the science is still unknown! It’s thought that those rapidly changing hormones are to blame…
These urges for certain and often peculiar foods are very normal and generally do not need to be ignored. However, if you are craving non-food items you should see your GP to rule out a potentially dangerous disorder called pica. This is an eating disorder that can affect pregnant women and sees them wanting to consume a large amount of items that contain zero nutritional value.
You have now reached your third trimester and your baby will be arriving soon. Fatigue levels are likely to increase and you may feel more hungry. Consuming up to 350 more calories per day at this time is often essential for active women. However, the opposite can also happen and having a large baby on board can squash your stomach and decrease your appetite. If this is the case, think about eating little and often. This is a time in your pregnancy where you may start to nest and want to be organised ahead of the arrival of your baby. A good way to get ahead is to batch cook some meals for the freezer, which will come in handy once the baby is here! The lentil cottage pie is easy to prepare, healthy and filling so the ideal meal for postpartum mums. The freezer stash sauce is versatile as it can be used as a topping for pizza or pasta or added to fish or meat to make a protein packed meal.
The most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself! If your baby is wanting you to eat lots of beige food for a few weeks, that is ok. Try to add in the good stuff where you can and keep regularly hydrated throughout the day. Be kind to your body and fuel it with the foods that allow you to feel as strong, healthy and energized as you can.