Holistic Nutrition For Pregnancy: During The First Trimester
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be difficult to know how to manage your health, especially in the first trimester when everything is new.
If you’re looking for resources or want to help others know how to navigate their pregnancy through a holistic nutrition lens, then you’re in the right place.
Maybe you’re hoping for guidance for yourself, or maybe you want to become knowledgeable about holistic nutrition so you can assist others.
Holistic nutrition means finding the healthful solutions you need naturally with food.
If this sounds like something you’d like to explore more, click here to find out how to become a holistic nutritionist in Canada.
Or, read on for more information about how to provide nutrition during the first trimester of pregnancy.
What Happens During The First Trimester?
The first 0 to 13 weeks of your pregnancy are considered the first trimester.
This is when your baby’s organ systems and body develop.
Hormones like estrogen and progesterone kick into high gear during these first few weeks of pregnancy.
These may cause morning sickness, which is a persistent feeling of nausea.
Fatigue, breast soreness, and frequent urination are also likely to occur during this trimester of your pregnancy.
Some people may experience constipation because of the increased progesterone in the body.
By the end of the first trimester, your baby will have started to develop arms and legs and will weigh up to an ounce.
Caloric Intake During The First Trimester
The food you eat during your first trimester is incredibly important, as everything contributes to your growing baby’s health.
You’ll want to make sure you’re keeping an eye on specific nutrients.
Though you should not be gaining weight from increased caloric intake during this trimester of pregnancy, many people gain 3 to 5 pounds due to increased blood volume.
Your caloric needs will stay fairly close to those of most adults unless your activity level is very high.
If you are very active you’ll want to talk with your practitioner to find out what is recommended for your unique situation.
Important Nutrients During The First Trimester
While caloric intake does not need to be overly monitored, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough of the vital nutrients your baby needs to grow.
Eating three meals a day and a snack or two is a good idea for you in the first trimester and will help ensure you’re eating a variety of food.
B12 and Folic acid are the most important micronutrients to ensure you get during your first trimester.
This nutrient is key in hindering the development of neural tube defects.
Folic acid deficiency has been linked with depression as well, so it’s doubly important to keep your levels up during pregnancy.
Here are some other nutrients you can focus on to make sure you and your growing baby are getting what you need.
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If you’re not getting enough minerals, your baby will take from your own stores of it, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough.
Dark leafy greens, vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and nuts and seeds are all great sources of minerals.
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you can get the minerals you need from beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, kale, turnip greens, oranges, raspberries, and blackberries, among others.
You’ll want to prioritize lean protein when you’re in your first trimester of pregnancy.
Lean cuts of meat and beans can be great sources of protein.
Protein reinforces uterine tissue growth and will help grow you and your baby’s muscles.
3. Vitamin C
Making sure you get enough vitamin C is important no matter who you are.
Turns out it’s good for helping your baby develop as well.
Not only does it help your baby’s tissue to grow and development, it also boosts your ability to absorb iron, another important nutrient we’ll talk about shortly.
The majority of fruits and vegetables have some amount of vitamin C, but it’s most plentiful in oranges, strawberries, raspberries, peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes.
Potassium helps your body maintain fluid balance, supporting you during the significant changes during pregnancy.
It will also help you regulate your blood pressure.
We usually think of bananas when we think of potassium, but if they’re not your favorite, or if you’re trying to eat a more local diet, there are plenty of other high potassium foods you’ll enjoy as well, including potatoes, beans, kale, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, oranges, and tomatoes.
While your baby is growing your body increases its blood supply, making iron an incredibly vital nutrient during your first trimester.
However, iron deficiency is fairly common for a number of different reasons.
In some cases, it’s due to poor diet, or insufficient B12, but if you’re pregnant you’re at greater risk of iron deficiency.
That’s also true if you’re a cisgender woman before the age of menopause, since iron is present in your blood.
As a result, the heavier your menstrual flow, the more iron you lose.
Beef, eggs, and spinach are all foods that are high in iron.
6. DHA (Omega 3 Fatty Acid)
DHA is an important omega 3 fatty acid.
It plays a critical role in helping your baby develop, including:
• Brain development
• Eye development
• Nervous system development
• Maintaining a healthy weight
In particular, it helps support the development of certain key parts of your baby’s brain, including:
• Brainstem – responsible for regulating breathing, heart rate, and other basic functions of life
• Cerebrum – responsible for memory, cognition, and sensory inputs
• Cerebellum – responsible for gross and fine motor control
DHA can be found in fish (as long as they’re low mercury, of course).
Anchovies, herring, and sardines are all full of DHA.
If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, seaweed, flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and Brussels sprouts are also great sources of DHA.
Foods To Eat During The First Trimester
It can be difficult to get the nutrients you need in your first trimester, especially if you have morning sickness.
If you’re struggling with morning sickness you may only want to eat bland foods, but try to sneak in some healthy ones like sweet potatoes or frozen bananas.
Ginger, lemon, peppermint, and cold foods like smoothies may help with your nausea from morning sickness.
In particular, drinking lemon juice while pregnant can provide benefits for both you and baby.
Otherwise, it’s important to eat a variety of densely nutritious foods.
Lean meats like steak or turkey will be wonderful sources of amino acids, while kale contains vitamins like vitamin C, E, and K.
Beans and lentils are a wonderful vegetarian option that provide fiber, iron, folate, and protein.
You can take care of your baby and yourself by focusing on healthful foods.
Contact The Edison Institute Of Nutrition Today
Would you like to know more about holistic nutrition and the first trimester of pregnancy?
Maybe you’re hoping to accrue enough knowledge that you can teach others about it?
If so, consider a career as a registered holistic nutritionist.
The Edison Institute of Nutrition can show you how.
Beyond our Diploma in Holistic Nutrition program, we also offer a number of holistic nutrition continuing education units for both trained holistic nutritionists and other healthcare providers, including: