The first thing that is probably on your mind when you discover “the good news” is how to eat right. And while everyone will tell you what to eat during pregnancy, no one tells you how much of what to eat and when! An optimum nutrient balance is important to safeguard you and your baby against any nutritional deficiencies, which are not rare today. Well, here is a detailed guide to optimizing your nutrition intake during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
What is optimum nutrition?
It is important for you to know that optimum nutrition doesn’t mean increased quantity of food! In fact in the first trimester, the nutritional requirement is the same as before.
For the mother, optimum nutrition means a variety of nutritious meals that ensure a healthy pregnancy with fewer complications and a healthy baby.
Optimum Nutrition during pregnancy is needed to support:
- Growth of the placenta
- Higher Blood Volume
- Higher cardiac output (Your heart is supplying pure blood to your baby as well, you see :-))
- Increase in level of fluids in the body
- Hormonal changes
- Changes in breasts in preparation for breastfeeding
- Alterations to lung, kidney, urinary and reproductive functions.
Here are the list of nutrients which are critical for you now:
B group Vitamin Folate (Folic Acid)
You must consume about 400 mcg of B group vitamin folate daily through a folic acid supplement) around the time of conception.
This vitamin is required for the development of your baby’s nervous system during the first six weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid supplements need to be taken throughout the first trimester, to avoid any birth defects such as spina bifida.
Good sources: Natural sources of folic acid are white pumpkin (kovda), chickpeas (chole chana), green peas, green leafy vegetables like spinach, methi, chawli leaves, dill (suva / shepu), radish (mooli) leaves, mustard greens (sarson), avocado, sweet lime, oranges, melons, tomatoes and nuts.
Calcium and Vitamin D
We already know that Calcium is crucial for the development of your baby’s bone structure and teeth but it is also extremely important for regulating nerve and muscle activity and for absorbing iron. In the first trimester therefore, 500 to 800 mg of Calcium and 5 mg of Vitamin D is required daily.
Good sources: Calcium is found mainly in dairy produce like yoghurt, milk, cheese, paneer, buttermilk.
Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies so they are a must-have throughout your pregnancy.
Good sources: Lean meats, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, seafood, cheese, roasted peanuts, lentils and kidney beans are good sources of proteins.
Indian women most often are anaemic due to an improper diet or loss of blood during menstruation. You must fortify your iron levels when planning a pregnancy and step it up when you conceive.
Good sources: Foods such as meat, raisins and prunes, beans, all green leafy vegetables like spinach, radish leaves, turnip leaves, mint leaves, beetroot, pumpkin, sweet potato, pomegranate are rich in iron.
Foods you can indulge in:
Fruits: Fruits are rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. Two to three servings of fruits like oranges, grapefruit, melons and berries are recommended for you.
Vegetables: Vegetables contain vitamins A and C, folate, and minerals such as iron and magnesium. They are also low in fat and contain fibre, which helps alleviate constipation.
Breads, Cereals, Rice and Pastas: This group provides complex carbohydrates, which is an important source of energy, along with other nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Include whole wheat, millets like jowar, bajra, ragi in your diet.
Fats, Oils and Sweets: Use fats, oils and sweets sparingly. However, consumption of small amounts (1-2 tspns) of pure ghee made from cow’s milk is beneficial in pregnancy.
This sample Diet plan below should help you get started for your 1st Trimester:
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Please Note: The above diet plan for pregnancy is a general sample chart. It may or may not necessarily suit everyone. Please consult your gynecologist or a qualified nutritionist to help you make a diet plan suited for your needs and lifestyle. Also take supplements only in consultation with your doctor.