As you go through your pregnancy, you've got a dining partner who says “I'll have what she's having” every time you take a bite. So it's more important than ever to think before you eat.

While you go around doing your chores, or even while you are sleeping, your tiny bub is busy growing! He or she is forming organs, his or her brain tissues are developing and he or she is rapidly increasing in size. While doing all those, he or she requires all the nutrients he or she can get. And needless to say, he or she gets them from you. In fact, you should always aim for a healthy and balanced diet, even before pregnancy. So it’s important for you to eat right, take the prescribed supplements, and avoid foods that offer no value for the developing baby.

However, it doesn’t mean you are doubling your portion!! Here are a few tips to help you get started with your nutrition during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Aim for the healthiest of diets

Doctors recommend that the average woman gain between 0.5 and 2 kilogramsi during this first trimester, so most women only need a little extra calories at this point, not more than taking an extra piece of wholemeal bread, or a cup of low fat milk per day. You can meet your nutritional needs by eating a well-balanced and varied diet. Try to get the most out of what you put in your mouth, with foods like vegetables, fruits, lean meats or meat alternatives, low-fat dairy products, whole grains and nuts. However, limit your intake of foods high in saturated and/or trans fats. It is essential to eat right during the pregnancy (actually even before!). So stay away from any diet plans other than a balanced diet. Needless to say, stay away from alcohol, nicotine, and perhaps limit your coffee intake if you can.

Your growing baby’s brain starts to develop even before you might know that you are pregnant! And it needs many nutrients like DHA, iron, zinc, copper, choline and folate, to support its growth and developmentii.

You can nourish your developing baby’s brain growth by consuming around 200mg of DHAiii daily from DHA rich foods like salmon and sardines; this omega -3 fatty acid is a building block of your growing baby’s developing brain. By consuming adequate protein and other essential nutrients, you are, in effect, also nurturing your growing baby’s development, including the foundation of your developing baby’s brain.

Constipation is a common symptom of pregnancy, and one that you might experience soon. You can deal with it by adding more fiber to your diet. It helps to move your stools through your system more efficiently. Good fiber sources include fresh fruits and vegetables; and whole grains, such as breads and cereals. Also, drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated has plenty of health benefits, including the prevention of constipation.

Take your prescribed pregnancy supplements

Boost your intake of key nutrients by supporting a healthy diet with a doctor-recommended supplement that should include iron and folic acidiv. Due to its critical role to prevent neural tube defect, folic acid supplementation (400mcg daily) is recommended even as you prepare to conceive. Iron supplementation (30 to 60 mg of elemental iron) is also generally prescribed as pregnant woman has a higher risk for developing anemia due to the increased blood formation.

Dealing with morning sickness

If you suffer from morning sickness, you could start eating small meals frequently, consisting of foods that don’t trigger your nausea, and stay hydrated.v Though there is no sure-fire way to successfully treat pregnancy nausea, there are some treatments that have worked for many women in the past. Some of these are:

  • Taking supplements like Vitamin B6, which has been linked to morning sickness reliefvi.
  • Herbal remedies like ginger and chamomile may help reduce nausea and vomitingvii.
  • Acupuncturevii and massage. Acupressure wrist bands also work for some women.
  • Anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor.

Remember to consult your healthcare provider first before beginning any treatment.

References:

i
Diet & Your Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from https://www.kkh.com.sg/HealthPedia/Pages/PregnancyDuringDiet.aspx
ii
Georgieff MK. (2007) Nutrition and the developing brain: nutrient priorities and measurement. Am J Clin Nutr. 85(2):614S-620S.
iii
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,. Fats And Fatty Acids In Human Nutrition: Report Of An Expert Consultation. Geneva: N.p., 2010. Web. 5 Apr. 2017. FAO Food And Nutrition Paper
iv
World Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 201
v
Curtis, G. B., & Schuler, J. (2016). Your Pregnancy Week by Week (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.
vi
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). (n.d.). Retrieved 05 April 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-b6/dosing/hrb-20058788
vii
World Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.