Important Nutrition During the First Trimester of Pregnancy

by Erica Jacques

About Erica Jacques

Erica Jacques is an occupational therapist and freelance writer with more than 15 years of combined experience. Jacques has been published on Mybackpaininfo.com and various other websites, and in "Hope Digest." She earned an occupational therapy degree from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, Scotland, giving her a truly global view of health and wellness.

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During the first trimester of pregnancy, a baby is busy developing its nervous system, bones and muscles. In order to meet these demands, and to fuel the changes in her own body, a mom to be must eat well. Good nutrition is vital during the first trimester of pregnancy, and should include specific nutrients.

Considerations: Early Changes

A developing baby has nutritional needs which can begin before the mother-to-be even knows that she is pregnant. Because of this, a woman who is trying to get pregnant should make the appropriate lifestyle changes. These include avoiding alcohol, reducing caffeine intake, taking a prenatal vitamin and changing to a healthier diet.

Significance of Iron

During the first trimester, the mother’s blood supply increases to support her growing baby. She needs extra iron during this time to prevent anemia. As the mother’s blood supply increases, her daily iron needs nearly double. Experts recommend 27 mg of iron daily, which can be found in lean meats, fortified cereals and spinach. A woman who does not get her daily dose of iron during her first trimester may be more susceptible to infections, or may feel more tired than usual. For maximum absorption, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, recommend iron be combined with vitamin C.

Benefits of Folic Acid

Folic acid, or folate, is vital to early fetal brain and spinal cord development, as well as tissue formation, much of which takes place very early on in pregnancy. The ACOG recommends at least 400 micrograms daily during the first trimester. Some women, such as those who have had a child with neural tube problems previously, require more folate than others. ACOG recommends most women take supplemental folate to ensure they meet this daily guideline. Folate can also be found in spinach, oranges and asparagus.

Other Important Nutrients: Calcium and Protein

Calcium is important for baby’s developing bones, and protein for her developing muscles and tissues. These nutrients are important throughout the duration of pregnancy, including the first trimester. Pregnant women should have 1,000 mg of calcium daily: mothers who take in less risk losing calcium from their own bones to support their baby. Leafy greens and dairy products are good sources of calcium. For optimal muscle and tissue development, pregnant women need at least 71 g of protein daily, which can be found in eggs, lean meats and dairy products.

Other Nutritional Guidelines

Ohio State University has a few general guidelines that pregnant mothers should follow both during the first trimester and throughout their pregnancy. These include drinking at least eight glasses of water per day, and increasing the amount of fiber in their diets. These guidelines keep pregnant women hydrated, feeling satisfied and also help to prevent one of the dreaded side effects of pregnancy: constipation. In addition, Ohio State also recommends eating a variety of foods, combining meals with healthy snacks and taking a prenatal vitamin.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.