Congratulations on reaching the end of the first trimester of your pregnancy.
It is at this stage that many women experience relief in the severity of morning sickness. By now, your baby is about 6cm tall. During the second trimester, his or her eyebrows and eyelashes form, hair begins to grow, the limbs develop, and it is possible to determine your baby’s sex through an ultrasound.
Throughout your pregnancy, blood glucose levels need to be monitored to identify and address any gestational diabetes. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is also essential for your baby’s brain health. Working with a naturopath who specialises in pregnancy will ensure that you get the correct screening, as well as specific supplements and dietary advice which are tailored to you.
Essential nutrients for brain health
Your baby’s brain health is highly influenced by the important omega 3 fat, DHA. Evidence suggests that a deficiency in DHA and other essential brain nutrients such as choline can negatively impact cognition, memory and attention span in your child. It can even contribute to learning difficulties and anxiety. DHA can be obtained from seafood sources such as salmon and sardines, but you may require more in the form of quality supplements.
Magnesium is another crucial nutrient which supports healthy blood pressure, can help prevent preterm delivery, supports glucose metabolism and treats cramps. During your pregnancy, your baby will draw from your nutrient stores, so it’s vital that you are not lacking in minerals as this can make you more prone to diabetes and osteoporosis in later life.
The importance of good nutrition
Your diet has a huge impact on the quality of your pregnancy and the health of your child, but studies have shown that dietary intake of pregnant women doesn’t meet the national standard.
Unrefined carbohydrates such as wholegrains and root vegetables are an important source of fuel for you and your baby. Protein is vital for the growth of your baby and the placenta. Aim for three servings of protein-rich foods daily such as fish, meat, eggs, tofu or tempeh. Omega 3 fats such as DHA and EPA help to reduce inflammation in your body and support your baby’s nervous system development. Great sources include fatty fish such as salmon and anchovies, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.
Eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and also fruit will supply you with essential minerals and vitamins as well as antioxidants to protect your body against the damaging effects of free radicals. Aim for 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit daily.
If you are still suffering from pregnancy fatigue, boost your intake of iron-rich foods such as red meat, dark green leafy vegetables and lentils. But thankfully the fatigue of early pregnancy commonly lifts in the second trimester so, although it’s not the time to begin an intense exercise program, it’s a great time to keep physically active. The benefits of regular exercise in pregnancy include reduced back pain, decreased risk of pre-eclampsia and pregnancy-induced hypertension, fewer complications in delivery, faster recovery after labour, reduced risk of anxiety and depression, and improved sleep.
Up to 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise on most days is ideal. Options include swimming, walking and pregnancy-specific yoga and Pilates. Always obtain a healthcare practitioner’s advice to ensure your activities are safe for you.
Onto the third trimester
Stay tuned for the next blog about the third trimester, with helpful tips on reducing indigestion and how you can help protect your child from allergies, eczema and asthma.