This should be the honeymoon period of your pregnancy. Make sure you continue taking care of yourself and the developing baby, even as you take some time off to relax.

The morning sickness should be gone by now, and you're probably feeling better. Your developing baby is definitely getting bigger, so it's a good time to continue having those nutrient-rich foods that you may have difficulties due to the nausea. Your developing baby needs them to support his or her growth. These tips will point you in the right direction for healthy eating during the second trimester of your pregnancy.

Plan your meals

During this trimester, you'll gain around 400 gramsi a week in weight, and will need to add an extra 290-360 calories to your normal daily diet (any reference?). Try and plan your meals at least a day in advance so you can be sure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients. A healthy diet, including a variety of vegetables and fruits, protein-rich foods which include milk, beans, whole grains and nuts, combined with appropriate prenatal supplements will ensure your developing baby gets a balanced nutrient intake crucial for his or her overall development.

Don’t miss out on important nutrients

There are many important nutrients you need to obtain from your diet to support your growing baby’s development, and your own health during this pregnancy period. For example, iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the red blood cell. Iron is especially important during your pregnancy when the volume of your blood increases to carry oxygen and nutrients to your body tissues and your developing baby. To help your growing baby to produce red blood cells, continue to eat plenty of iron-rich foods, such as spinach, red meat and poultry.

Daily oral iron and folic acid supplementation with 30 to 60 mg of elemental iron and 400 mcg of folic acid is recommended for pregnant women to prevent anaemia, low birth weight, and preterm birth.ii Always remember to talk to your doctor first before taking supplements during your pregnancy.

Consuming food or drinks rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits) also helps your body to absorb iron better. Vitamin C also helps create collagen for your developing tissues including blood vessels.

DHA intake remains very important to support your growing baby’s developing brain, the control centre of your growing baby’s skills including cognitive function and emotional development. Continue to include plenty of DHA rich-food like fatty fish in your diet to help your growing baby’s developing brain and eyesight.iii Other nutrients like zinc, copper, and choline are also important to support your growing baby’s developing brain. iv

Eat your veggies, mama!

Vegetables during pregnancy provide many important nutrients. They are also rich in dietary fibres which may help to alleviate constipation, a common problem during pregnancy. Choose more dark green leafy vegetables as well as vegetables of different colors like carrots, pumpkins, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, cauliflowers, etc.

Aim for 4-5 servings of vegetables daily, which is about 1⁄2 bowl of cooked vegetables or 1 bowl of uncooked vegetables.v

Water. Water. Water.

Water is essential for many metabolic functions of your body. Also, as a main constituent of blood, water helps transport nutrients to your body cells and remove waste. Adequate hydration is especially important during pregnancy as water is needed to form amniotic fluid that surrounds the developing baby and to support the increase in blood volume.vi You would need around 2.3L of water a day during pregnancy, or about 10cups.vii

Drinking lots of water is also good for your skin, and will help you solve some of hormone- related skin issues. Staying hydrated can also deter other pregnancy symptoms such as constipation,viii while supporting your developing baby’s healthy growth.

The type of beverages you choose to stay hydrated also matters. Try to avoid drinks with a lot of sugar and caffeine like colas. Avoid alcoholic beverages as they could damage your developing baby’s brain. Plain water is the best option. Low-fat milk is also a healthy choice as it also provides you with protein, calcium, and other important micronutrients.

Exercise, safely.

 

Exercise has multiple effects on the body – whether pregnant or otherwise. Not only it helps keep you healthy and prevent excess weight gain, but also helps prepare you for labor and delivery. Exercise can also help with many pregnancy discomfort, such as helping to reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling, boosting your mood and energy levels, and helping you sleep better.ix In general, eating food high in fiber and low in fat, as well as exercising regularlyx are healthy habits during pregnancy, as they lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes.

At this point, you're probably feeling better and can still move around easily. Before embarking on any form of exercise, ask your doctor about which exercises are safest and suitable for you.

References:

i.Diet & Your Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2017, from https://www.kkh.com.sg/HealthPedia/Pages/PregnancyDuringDiet.aspx

ii.World Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016 http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/250796/1/9789241549912-eng.pdf.

iii.Marine oil supplementation to improve pregnancy outcomes. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.who.int/elena/titles/bbc/fish_oil_pregnancy/en/

iv.Georgieff MK. (2007) Nutrition and the developing brain: nutrient priorities and measurement. AmJ Clin Nutr. 85(2):614S-620S.

v.Healthy Eating During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding. Retrieved 2 June 2017 from, http://www.fhs.gov.hk/english/health_info/woman/20036.html

vi.Montgomery, Kristen S. (2002). Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond. J Perinat Educ, 11(3): 40–42.

vii.EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) (2010). Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for water. EFSA Journal, Volume 8, Issue 3.

viii.Montgomery, K. S. (2002). Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 11(3), 40–42. http://doi.org/10.1624/105812402X88830

ix.Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let's move! (2016, June 09). Retrieved February 22, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/ pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896

x.Gestational Diabetes – Prevention. (2014, April 15). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/basic... 20014854