Nutrition During Pregnancy

In the second trimester, your growing baby and overworked body do begin to demand a little bit more in terms of daily caloric support. That’s right: you get to eat more! Wait just a second before heading to the buffet line for seconds and thirds. You only need to increase your calorie intake by 300 calories each day. That really isn’t very much. Looking at your plate it equals out to only half a sandwich more per day.

Overeating for the sake of healthy nutrition during pregnancy and baby’s gestational needs is probably one of the single biggest nutrition mistakes made by expectant mothers. They know they need to eat more for baby, but completely overestimate how much more. You can get an extra 300 calories by increasing the size of your mid-morning snack of almonds by less than a ¼ of a cup or by eating one extra slice of cheese with breakfast and dinner.

With the extra amount of calories needed by your baby being so small, you really don’t need to ‘try’ to eat more. Eat when you are hungry, even in between meals – but don’t overdo it. If the pounds start adding up rapidly, your body is telling you to slow it down a bit at mealtime. You should gain about 3-5 pounds (if any at all) during the first trimester and about 10 pounds during the second trimester. That breaks down to about 3 pounds of weight gain per month. Keep up with the regular, well balanced, meals. Pay close attention to portion size and you will do just fine.

Body Changes

During the second trimester, you will begin to notice many more body changes. Your belly will start to swell more quickly as the baby grows. Soon Jr. will make a notable mark on your silhouette as you take on a distinct rounder appearance. Your breasts will have also increased in size, as much as 3 cup sizes! (Don’t get too used to this, your chest will deflate once pregnancy and nursing are over.)

In spite of the increases in size, your body will begin to feel more ‘normal’ again. Morning sickness and extreme fatigue will abate and are generally replaced by a feeling of energized well-being. Don’t become complacent now in your healthy eating habits. As hideous as the constant threat of nausea morning sickness is, it is a great motivator to eat well. You and your baby still need consistent meals.

Comfort Concerns

The second trimester, almost universally agreed upon to be the most comfortable trimester of the three, can become uncomfortable it the nutrition during pregnancy plan gets ignored. During pregnancy, the body slows down intestinal processes in an effort to ring every last drop of nutrition from each and every morsel you eat. Unfortunately, this sluggish bowel function often results in flatulence and/or constipation.

The domino effect of constipation leads to hemorrhoids. Pregnancy is a time of wonder and beauty, but there is a darker, less pleasant side. To keep your daily regularity in check concentrate on getting ample amounts of fiber. It is amazing how much or how little fiber there is in everyday foods. Celery, for example, only has 1.1 grams of fiber per stalk! An avocado, on the other hand, has 11.8 grams of fiber, is packed with natural proteins, omega fatty acids and vitamins. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather toss a few avocado chunks in my salad, eat avocado on my lunchtime turkey sandwich or dive into a bowl of guacamole than eat 12 stalks of celery!

Here are a few foods that are extremely high in fiber and important for Nutrition During Pregnancy:

  • Apples with skin – 5.0 grams
  • 1 cup back beans (cooked) – 13.9 grams
  • One cup cooked peas – 8.8 grams
  • 1 avocado – 11.8 grams
  • 1 cup raspberries – 6.4 grams
  • baked potato (sweet or russet) – 4.8 grams
  • Red Lentils (1 Cup, cooked) – 13.6 grams
  • 1 pear – 5.1 grams
  • Bran Cereal (1 cup) – 19.9 grams
  • Flax Seed (3 TBS) – 7 grams
  • 1 cob Corn – 4.6 grams
  • Cooked Kale (1 cup) – 7.2 grams
  • Whole Wheat Pasta (1 Cup) – 6.3 grams

Keep things moving

To keep things moving along nicely, try to get between 30 and 40 grams of fiber each day. In addition to fiber, your nutrition during pregnancy plan needs to include additional B vitamins. B vitamins help your body metabolize energy. What this $10 phrase really means is that it is the B vitamin’s job to make you feel energetic and peppy. If you want to keep the spring in your step granted to you by the freedom from morning sickness get your vitamin B’s!

B Vitamins abound in green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli. Getting your vitamins from a natural plant source helps the body to use them more easily. The vitamins found in supplements, even the best ones, do not do your body as much good as the vitamins found in natural food choices. Take your prenatal, but don’t excuse yourself from eating your vegetables because you do.

Nutrition During Pregnancy and Fetal Development

During the second trimester, your baby’s body begins to shift focus just a bit. The main effort in the first three months has been to create the infrastructure on a new human: the circular system with a beating heart, the nervous system with a brain, the arms complete with fingers, elbows and shoulders and so on. With these basic systems in place, your baby now begins to place more emphasis on an increase in size. This does not mean all developmental work comes to a screeching halt elsewhere. It just means your baby and body is now doing the double duty of development and growth at a more rapid pace.

This double-pronged mission of increasing baby’s size while putting the maturing developmental touches on vital organ systems taxes your nutrition like never before. You will feel hungrier because your body can signal the need for food without fearing the wrath of nausea. You will also have more distinct or insistent cravings. When attempting to sate your hunger and cravings use a bit of common sense.

If you are craving corn dogs, this does not mean there is some integral nutrient that can only be found in deep-fried, composite processed meat on a stick. What it means is that your body needs something, and it knows if it tells you to eat a corn dog you will do it.

Be Kind with Your body

Surprise your body and be kinder than it expected you to be. Analyze your cravings for nutritional content and then give your body what it needs in the form of healthy, fresh foods. For example, a corn dog has proteins, more calories, and salts. Instead of running off to the food court, grab a sports drink for the salts and electrolytes, a pork chop for the protein and add an extra snack to up the calorie count a bit.

If your cravings stray to very strange, non-food items like clay or laundry starch call your doctor. You could be experiencing what is known as pica. This signals a severe nutritional deficiency which you need to correct as soon as possible. Nutritional deficiencies, even slight ones, will affect the growth and development form your baby. The placenta is great at passing vitamins and minerals along from mommy to baby, but it is not a thief. If you don’t eat the vitamin, there is nothing for the placenta to pass along.

The Meal Plan

You can take the emphasis off the snacks in the second trimester but only a little bit. Snacking will still be important so you should travel prepared, always carrying good snack food with you. Hunger will strike and you don’t always have much time between those first pangs of peckishness to downright hunger and low sugar shakes. To avoid nutrition during pregnancy derailments it is best to travel prepared. Toss a granola bar or two into your handbag; never leave home without your baby carrot snack pack or an apple in your pocket.

Water is another place you need to focus on. Get a water bottle and drain it 6-8 times each day (depending on its capacity). To help you get your daily nutritional needs it is helpful to carry a reminder card of what you should be eating each day. To be certain you are getting what your body and baby needs, checking off each food group as you eat it will help you know you are on the right track. The checklist can be simple, like this:

  • Dairy – (3 servings each day)
  • Protein – (50-70 grams per day)
  • Vegetables – (remember to include green and yellow veggies)
  • Fruit
  • Whole grain
  • Oils/fats

When tracking your foods remember that foods can play double duty only when eaten in proper amounts. For example, if you only eat 1 avocado, you can’t use it as a fat, a carbohydrate, a vegetable, and a protein source.

Stay tuned, nutrition during pregnancy in the third trimester is coming soon.

By Margaret Clover

Margaret Clover started cooking at the age of eight a top a wooden stool in her father's restaurant. Through cooking her parents taught her a good work ethic and a valuable skill. Even though her parents managed to teach her how to be a great chef and have a good work ethic, she still is not that crazy about doing DISHES! Not only did they train her on how to cook, but they trained her how to be a independent woman. Margaret Clover is also a specialist pregnancy adviser.