From the moment you conceive, your baby relies on you to provide it with adequate nutrition so it can successfully grow to full-term. For the health of both you and your baby, it's key that you don't attempt to lose weight at any point in your pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. Instead, focus on creating a dietary plan that provides you with the right number of calories and the nutrients you need.
Eating for Two?
As much as every woman wishes it to be true, pregnancy doesn't truly give her an excuse to eat for two. In fact, if you're at a healthy weight already, you don't need to consume any additional calories during the first trimester. Don't fret, you'll get to indulge a little bit in later trimesters. For now, though, stick to approximately 1,800 calories per day, recommends Medline Plus.
First Trimester Food Issues
During the first trimester, you might not be at risk of eating too many calories -- between nausea, food aversions and fatigue, your biggest issue might be ingesting enough calories. If you're struggling with keeping food down, focus on eating as much nutritious food as possible, even if it's not very much overall. Bland food such as crackers, toast, rice and broth might help you avoid nausea, as will eating small meals every couple hours to avoid an empty stomach, says the American Pregnancy Association. Lemon, ginger and peppermint flavors can also help curb nausea, while plain fruits and vegetables and cold sandwiches -- just skip deli meat -- can help keep your energy levels up and nutritional needs met.
If you lived on a diet of pizza and burgers prior to pregnancy, now it's time to shape up and focus on the nutrients that both you and your baby need to stay healthy. For example, pregnant women need 600 micrograms a day of folic acid to help prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects, according to the APA. This vitamin can be found in oranges, strawberries, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals. You need 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams a day to support bone and teeth development, as well as prevent blood clots, so stock up on yogurt, milk and calcium-fortified foods. The 15 micrograms of vitamin D you need daily will help your body utilize that calcium; it can be found in milk, fatty fish and sunshine. Other important nutrients include protein, vitamins A, C and E, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, iron and zinc, says the APA.
Making a Plan
As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. First trimester fatigue can leave you exhausted at the end of the day, leading you to rely on precooked foods or restaurant meals for dinner. Instead, put together a slow-cooker meal early in the day when you have more energy and then pair it with a serving of frozen vegetables for a well-rounded dinner. Even during the first trimester, hunger pangs can become normal, and an empty stomach can cause you to feel nauseous. Load up your purse with healthy snacks such as whole-grain crackers with individually packed servings of hummus, baby carrots and nuts. Avoid salty foods, which can cause you to retain water -- your body will have enough baby bloat on its own -- as well as sugary drinks and snacks.
- BabyCenter: What Eating for Two Really Means
- What to Expect: Eating Well in the First Trimester
- American Pregnancy Association: Nutrients & Vitamins For Pregnancy
- Medline Plus: Managing Your Weight Gain During Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Morning Sickness Relief: Eating with Morning Sickness
- BabyCenter: Plus-size and Pregnant: How to Manage Your Weight During Pregnancy