So, you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant? Congratulations!! Now, the next step is to modify your diet so that you can have the healthiest pregnancy possible. In this blog we’re going to look at how your dietary requirements change throughout your first month of pregnancy.
In month 1, your baby will only grow to the size of an apple pip! At this stage, you may not even know that you are pregnant, although you could be starting to experience some tiredness and bloating.
Weight gain during the first trimester predominantly consists of fat stores, fluid, (as a result in a change of hormones) and increased blood volume, so unless you are underweight, aim for a maximum of 2 kilograms weight gain by the end of the first trimester. I know many women like to put on weight on at this stage, partly because they expect that they are supposed to and partly because they want to ‘feel’ pregnant and know that it’s really true! But too much weight gain will most likely mean fat gain, which you don’t want. So that means a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, regular weigh-ins and no eating for two (at this stage anyway!).
You don’t need additional kilojoules at this point of your pregnancy, just a healthy diet including all the core food groups – wholegrains, lean protein foods, low-fat dairy, fruit and vegetables – including plenty of folate. The most important thing about this stage is that you are meeting your folate requirements to prevent neural tube defects. If you are not already taking a pregnancy multivitamin that is rich in folate, get onto one as soon as possible…. But make sure you are getting the right amount of folate for your individual needs (you may need a dietitian to advise you on this). You’ll also need to make sure you are eating green vegies every day as you won’t get all your folate requirements from a supplement. A bowl of Asian greens are my favourite. Try bok choy, choy sum, en choy, wombok as well as snow peas, zucchini, broccolini and asparagus. A quick and simple recipe is to stir-fry them in a little sesame oil, with some crushed garlic, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a squeeze of lemon juice and some sesame seeds for flavour.
Make sure the multivitamin you choose is specifically designed for pregnancy so that it does not contain any vitamin A. You’ll most likely need one that includes iodine too, but ask your dietitian. In addition to your pregnancy multi, start taking omega 3 capsules if you’re not eating fish two to three times per week.
If you haven’t already done so, I recommend getting your GP to organise a blood test to check your nutritional markers, including vitamin D, folate, homocysteine, vitamin B12, iron studies and thyroid function. If anything is low, speak to your dietitian about appropriate supplementation. I’ve already mentioned this a few times, but it’s a great idea to get a check-up with your dietitian at this stage, as there are many nutrients (such as calcium and zinc) that can’t be checked with a blood test.
Hopefully you are already in a great exercise routine, but if you’re not, this is the time to organise one. Speak to an exercise physiologist if you need help or advice. At this stage of your pregnancy you really don’t need to make any changes to your exercise plan unless you are doing an extreme sport like aerial skiing. Contrary to what you may think, exercise, particularly outdoor exercise, can be one of the best solutions for tiredness and bloating, so get moving whenever possible.
Now, to help get you started, I’ve put together a 7 day pregnancy meal plan. Simply choose which breakfast you’d like, which lunch, which dinner and which snacks. To download it now, all you have to do is click here.