Kickstart your first trimester with a healthy eating plan

Folate and exercise are the two most important factors in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby during your first trimester.

When it comes to nutrition during your first trimester, the secret is to include nutrient-dense foods that give you double the nutrient value, not double the calories. Eat lots of veggies and fruit, and steer clear of sugar and refined foods. Opt for the whole-wheat option whenever you can. Drink lots of water (adding fresh fruit or mint to make it more palatable).

Foods you should include in your diet

You’ll also be advised to eat foods rich in folate, allowing your baby’s neural tube to fuse properly in the first month, and to assist with your baby’s proper nervous system development; vitamin B6, which should help ease nausea; vitamin C, to help keep illness at bay; and iron to facilitate your increasing blood volume.

Potentially dangerous foods

You may be advised to stay away from a few potentially dangerous foods, which include:

  • Unpasteurised soft cheeses and fruit juices
  • Runny eggs or anything containing raw eggs (batter/dough, sauces like béarnaise, hollandaise, mayonnaise or some dressings, mousses, and tiramisu),
  • Smoked foods, pâtés, certain cold meats, undercooked or raw meats, and fish
  • Fish containing excess mercury, such as tuna or swordfish

Good to know: Free-range, grass-fed or organic meats, and veggies should be your first choice, as you have a better chance of eliminating your baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals, toxins, and unnecessary hormones.

A word on morning sickness and nausea 

Your vitamin supplement is especially important if you’re struggling with nausea and can’t keep anything down. The good news is that nausea during pregnancy is a good sign – it indicates high levels of the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). Nausea should subside when the placenta takes over to nourish and maintain your baby in the second trimester. Occasionally, oestrogen and thyroxine, or if you’re having twins, may exacerbate your suffering. Common ‘cures’ for nausea include sufficient sleep, relaxation, and eating little amounts regularly (often spicy, rich, fried and fatty foods trigger nausea, so steer clear of those). Ginger-flavoured teas, lollipops, and biscuits (but do try to limit sugar intake) may help, as might sipping water (some prefer iced water), to keep you hydrated. Cranberry juice every now and then can help prevent bladder infections, which are common at this stage.

Good to know: A good prenatal multivitamin, as well as a folate/folic acid supplement, is essential daily. Endeavour to eat a nutritious diet and do moderate exercise at least four times a week.   

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