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Can Not Eating in the First Trimester Hurt the Baby?

author image Genevieve Van Wyden
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.
Can Not Eating in the First Trimester Hurt the Baby?
Pregnant women in a yoga class Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

You’re pregnant, excited – and sick to your stomach all the time. You’re still learning what foods you can eat and what foods send you running for the porcelain throne. It is difficult to get foods down, let alone keep them down during the early months of pregnancy, but your baby needs nutrition. By doing some careful note-taking, you should be able to figure out what foods you can handle.

Expected Weight Gain

During your first trimester, you may gain between 2 and 5 lbs. – if you have lost your appetite due to nausea, once you have entered your second trimester, your appetite will come back, writes the Baby Center. When you regain your appetite, you’ll also begin to gain about 1 lb. a week.

"Morning" Sickness

At about the five-week mark, you may notice you are nauseated; you may vomit. This is the onset of the well-known “morning sickness” that causes most expecting mothers to feel under the weather during most of their first trimesters. “Morning” sickness is a misnomer because the nausea can develop in the morning, at night or it can last all day long, according to the ChildBirthSolutions website.

Combat this issue by keeping a zipper bag of saltine crackers next to your bed. When you wake in the morning, eat one or two saltines first thing before getting out of bed. They may help settle your stomach. If your morning sickness is so bad that you cannot keep any food or liquid down, please let your obstetrician know; you may need hospitalization and intravenous fluid to replenish the nutrients and fluids you – and your baby – have lost.

Eat What You Can

If your dietary choices become limited, try to eat those foods that don’t make your nausea and vomiting worse – saltines, water, anything you can get into your stomach that gets nutrients to the fetus. Choose the “nutrient-dense” foods that benefit you and your growing baby. These include foods rich in calcium, iron and complex carbohydrates.

Choose lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables. If your nausea makes some food choices impossible, substitute other foods rich in the nutrients you need. For instance, if you cannot tolerate dairy, some good choices may be fruits and green, leafy vegetables, beans or tofu, recommends the Palo Alto Medical Center.

Daily Calories Needed

Depending on how many calories you ate daily before becoming pregnant, you now need between 200 and 300 additional calories per day to support your pregnancy, your health and your growing baby.

In addition to the extra calories, you need to drink at least six to eight glasses of water every day. Fill your body’s need for fluids with water, not sodas or coffee. In moderation, caffeine is fine. “Moderate” means two to three 8-oz. cups of coffee in a day. To avoid excess weight gain while you’re pregnant, avoid sodas due to the empty calories.

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