During pregnancy, eating a healthy and balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your baby. The food that a pregnant mother eats is usually the main source of nourishment and nutrition for the baby. So, it is important to consume foods that are rich in nutrients. Proper nutrition can help promote your baby's growth and development. In the second trimester, the intake of certain nutrients become all the more essential.
What nutrients are important during the second trimester?
Calcium and iron are needed for bone and cell growth as well as for blood to carry oxygen to the baby. This stage is usually where nausea and vomiting symptoms stop and energy levels normalize and increase in the first trimester.
Pregnant mothers may notice more physical body changes, such as a baby bump, back pain, breast enlargement and gum pain or bleeding. If gum bleeding or pain does occur often, then you should eat foods that are gentle and soothe the gums. You can use a soft brush and floss gently.
Eating healthy foods, fruits and vegetables keep your gums healthy and so does brushing, flossing and rinsing.
Smoking will worsen the bleeding and so, it is recommended that pregnant women should not smoke.
What to eat during the second trimester?
A healthy diet consists of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and plenty of water. Every one of the meals should include at least three different food groups. During your pregnancy in the second trimester, it is especially important to eat foods that are rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
These nutrients will help your baby grow strong bones and teeth. It is also beneficial to eat foods containing omega-3 oils, which are vital for your baby’s brain development. Foods that contain one or more of these nutrients include avocado, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, carrots, Greek yogurt, cheese, dried fruit, canned sardines, peanut butter, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
It is helpful to prepare and cook meals at home to ensure you maintain a balanced, healthy diet.
How much weight should you gain during your second trimester?
You are likely to gain just over half of your pregnancy weight this trimester in spite of not having any extra calories intake. During the pregnancy, it is noticed that you become more efficient at absorbing the nutrients you need from your diet. This means that you can gain weight without the need to eat more. If you had a healthy weight at the start of your pregnancy, you should put on around half kg per week during this trimester.
The only rule here is to be guided by your hunger but to choose healthy snacks. You should be wary of snacks high in sugar or fat. You should keep yourself active during pregnancy as that will help you keep your weight in check. If you do not exercise at the moment, try to include exercise in your daily routine, for example, swimming, walk to work or special pregnancy classes.
Start slowly, gradually increasing to a target of 30 minutes at least five days a week.
Is it necessary to take supplements?
Well, primarily it is not needed to take folic acid after the twelfth week if you prefer not to. But many women continue taking it in the form of pregnancy multivitamins. However, you still need to take vitamin D supplements (10 micrograms per day) throughout your pregnancy. Even though if you get pregnant during the summer months, it is possible that you may not get enough vitamin D simply through the action of sunlight on skin and by eating foods containing vitamin D, for example, oily fish, fortified breakfast cereals, and eggs.
We find vitamin D in pregnancy multivitamin supplements or you may decide to take a single supplement containing vitamin D.
The right nutrient supplements & foods that should be limited this trimester
You should be sure to avoid all regular vitamins or cod liver oil supplements because they contain high levels of vitamin A, which could be dangerous for your growing baby.
If you have always consumed a healthy and well-balanced diet, then all you need is the basic formula that contains the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid and 10 mcg of vitamin D. It is important to limit and avoid certain foods during pregnancy. These include liver and liver products because of their potentially toxic levels of vitamin A, certain fishes like swordfish, shark, and marlin, raw or undercooked meat, fish and eggs, unpasteurized cheese and blue vein or mold-ripened cheeses.
It is best to wash fruits, vegetables, and salads well, to remove any harmful parasites and bacteria.
Having a heartburn is a common problem in the second trimester of pregnancy, which affects as many as eighty percent of pregnant women. You should avoid eating large meals. You should start eating smaller portions with regular snacks in between.
Grandma’s Tip: At this stage, ideally, you should leave at least 2-3 hours gap between eating and going to bed. Spicy, rich and fatty foods may increase your symptoms, so it is best to avoid these chocolate and fruit juices, which you crave for most of the times, but which are well-recognized triggers for your symptoms.
You should try drinking a small glass of skimmed or semi-skimmed milk before bed.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to anemia and hence, should opt for more iron-rich foods. Some of the popular foods that are high in iron content are red meat, oily fish, beans, lentils and breakfast cereals, and you need these to keep your nutrition in this trimester adequate.