Nutrition in the 1st trimester
Navigating nutrition in pregnancy can be tricky. Dietitian Robyn Lawrence gives her tips for the first trimester.
Pregnancy is such an exciting time and also a great opportunity to review your diet and to make sure you are meeting the extra nutritional needs of pregnancy to keep you and your baby healthy. There is growing evidence that what you eat in pregnancy can affect your baby’s health right through to adulthood, so paying attention to what you eat now can have long term rewards. There is a common misconception that during pregnancy you need to “eat for two”. In fact, your energy requirements increase only gradually during pregnancy and in the first trimester there is actually no need for extra energy intake. Your need for certain vitamins and minerals are increased though so making sure you have a healthy balanced diet and taking the right supplements like folic acid and iodine supplements (see advice on supplements here) is important. Aim for a wide variety of foods from each of the main food groups including:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least four servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit per day, fresh is best but tinned, frozen, dried fruit can count too.
- wholegrain breads and cereals such as granary bread, oats and brown rice
- low fat dairy – aim for three serves per day
- lean meat, chicken, fish*, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes
It was once thought that women should avoid common allergens during pregnancy however, there is now evidence to say that there is no need to avoid allergens during pregnancy (unless of course you are allergic to something yourself) and in fact, eating a wide variety of foods may help to reduce the risk of allergy in your child. If you’re uncertain what to do in your case, speak with your Lead Maternity Carer about a referral to a dietitian who can clarify common misconceptions and go through the best advice for you.
*Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury which can be dangerous in pregnancy. Head to https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-safety-for-consumers/food-and-pregnancy/ for more information about what foods to avoid during pregnancy.
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