What to Eat During the Stages of Pregnancy

Pregnant women must carefully watch what they eat for the health and well-being of their babies and themselves. They should eat smaller meals throughout the day and make sure they are getting proper vitamins and minerals and supplementing their diets with prenatal vitamins. Here are some general guidelines for what to eat during each stage of pregnancy.

  1. First Trimester

    • During the first trimester, pregnant women should consume about 2,200 calories. This is also the stage when morning sickness occurs, so eat smaller meals more frequently. Fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, are a must. Drink plenty of water, and eat plenty of grains and legumes. Avoid canned foods, alcohol and tobacco. Red meat, liver and other good sources of iron are also recommended. Moderate amounts of low fat dairy foods are recommended. Additionally, prenatal vitamins should be taken. Ideally, pregnant women should have taken folic acid supplements prior to conception and for the first three months of pregnancy.

    Second Trimester

    • Pregnant women should increase their food intake during the second trimester by 2,500 calories and continue to maintain a well-balanced diet. Similar to the first trimester, pregnant women should continue taking their vitamins, eating iron-rich foods like red meat and consuming fiber. Vitamin C should be added to the diet to help the absorption of iron. Women can get vitamin C through citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and limes.

    Third Trimester

    • At the third trimester, women should increase their calcium intake by drinking more milk and eating plenty of dairy products. This helps the baby's bone growth. If the baby does not get enough calcium from the mother, it will begin drawing calcium from its bones, effectively stunting growth. Additionally, the calcium helps to make milk for breastfeeding after delivery. Pregnant women should go back to eating small meals throughout the day, though still keeping the increased calorie total from the second trimester. This will help prevent heartburn. Keep drinking plenty of water.

    "Fourth" Trimester or Postpartum Diet

    • After giving birth, it's important to continue eating healthy foods because the baby still gets nutrition from the mother through breastfeeding. New mothers should eat foods that have essential fatty acids (omega-3s), which can be found in fresh salmon, nuts and seeds. Continuing to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables will also give the body needed antioxidants. After giving birth, women should avoid refined sugars and flour.

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