At six weeks' gestation, the only visual sign a woman has of her pregnancy is the pink indicator that revealed her pregnancy test to be positive. At this early stage in your baby's development -- you can't see him -- but he is already forming lungs, a nose, a jaw and a palate. He has tiny limb buds that will become hands and feet, and his brain is undergoing rapid, complex development. Eating right, even early in your pregnancy, is essential to the continued health of you and your baby. Discuss your eating habits with your obstetrician to ensure that your diet doesn't have any gaps.
Don't Eat For Two
It is tempting to pop open a gallon of ice cream to celebrate, but pregnancy doesn't give you carte blanche to eat whatever you please. Although you'll need a little more food in the second and third trimesters -- at six weeks' gestation, you don't need any extra calories, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Continue eating calories sufficient to maintain your weight, which is usually around 2,000 calories per day for moderately active women.
Foods to Avoid
Along with all the joys of expecting a new baby come a few sacrifices. Unfortunately, at six weeks' gestation and for the rest of your pregnancy, you'll have to eschew some foods. Expectant mothers should avoid raw or undercooked meat, fish and eggs, unpasteurized milk, deli meat, smoked meat and fish, and soft cheeses -- all of which can carry dangerous pathogens, advises the American Pregnancy Association. Moderate caffeine consumption is okay, but you should skip alcohol in any quantity. Alcohol can cause serious developmental defects in your unborn child.
Foods to Eat
Your diet in early pregnancy should include all the food groups, including whole-grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, lean protein and healthy fats. Of particular importance in the first trimester, is a vitamin called folate, which helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Folate is found in oranges, leafy greens, beets, broccoli, and in fortified pastas and cereal. Calcium is another essential nutrient that promotes fetal tooth, bone, heart, nerve and muscle development. Incorporate plenty of low-fat dairy into your diet to ensure adequate calcium intake. Take a prenatal vitamin to complement your healthy diet.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that you have three small meals and three snacks per day to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Try to combine a whole-grain with protein, and some form of produce at every meal. For breakfast, you might have oatmeal, fruit and a glass of low-fat milk. For lunch, enjoy a hearty salad topped with grilled chicken and for dinner, mix whole-grain pasta with sauteed veggies and thinly sliced steak. Good snack options include low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, carrot and celery sticks, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butter, whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese.
- American Pregnancy Association: Fetal Development: First Trimester
- American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Nutrition
- American Pregnancy Association: Food to Avoid During Pregnancy
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eating Right During Pregnancy
- American Pregnancy Association: Diet During Pregnancy