Nutrients for Each Trimester of Pregnancy

Nutrients for Each Trimester of Pregnancy

How can you help your baby get exactly what it needs as it goes through pregnancy?

Most women sign up for a week by week pregnancy update system that explains your babies developments. However, these do not discuss the nutrients that are needed to support these developments and the support your body needs to perform these functions. You should always strive for a nutrient dense diet that contains all the nutrients below on a weekly basis, but boosting micro-nutrient levels of certain key nutrients each trimester can prevent the opportunity for you feeling depleted and power your baby for optimal growth.

For each trimester, I will list some of the main developments for that portion of pregnancy and detail the nutrients that will support you and your baby the most at that time. This is a general overview, but I will have posts that give more detail about specific weeks in other posts.

1st Trimester

  • Key Developments: heart, brain, nervous system

  • What are the key nutrients?

    • Vitamin A
      • It is the concert master of your developing baby. Sufficient Vitamin A is required so that all the messages are sent to develop each organ and system of your baby. It is important to be aware that though there are many plant sources that contain the precursor for Vitamin A (i.e. beta-carotene), that doesn’t mean that is Vitamin A or that you personally can make the conversion, especially if you are not eating these plant foods with fat to aid the process. So, when I discuss Vitamin A, I am referring to animal sources like liver, grass-fed butter, egg yolks, etc.
    • Iron
      • It is needed primarily in this time due to the increase in blood supply and the growing placenta. Keeping your iron stores up will prevent anemia and may help with energy. So, eat greens, broccoli, and red meat.
    • Healthy Fats
      • We all love a baby with some chunk, and there is good reason they have it! Add in some coconut oil, grass-fed butter, avocados, fatty fish, and egg yolks.
    • Vitamin C
      • Our energy takes a real hit in the first trimester as our body works on forming the placenta. Vitamin C supports our adrenals and energy, as well as progesterone production. A study in Fertility and Sterility showed that it improves hormone levels and pregnancy success. This could be due to the fact that cortisol is a precursor to progesterone, and if our cortisol is too high (as is probably the case in many Americans due to stress, coffee, dieting, overexercising), our progesterone production is inhibited.
    • Potassium
      • This is another great adrenal supporter, and as you create more blood and fluids, you need to maintain your electrolyte balance. Potassium specifically aids in the unwinding of the adrenals at night. Foods like coconut water, sweet potatoes, spinach, and avocados are great options. One of my favorite in pregnancy is dates. There is a study out of Jordan showing that eating 6 dates a day in the last month of pregnancy can allow women to have a faster, easier birth. So, I ate 6 dates a day my entire pregnancy!
    • Sodium
      • I added sodium for the same reasons as potassium. However, sodium helps to wake up the adrenals and digestion. So, it is best included in the diet in the morning. I love using Himalayan sea salt on my breakfast.
    • Vitamin B12
      • It is essential for nervous system development.
    • 3-indolcarbonal
      • This is a compound that aids in the breakdown of hormones and helps the body excrete them. So, as we produce and utilize estrogen and progesterone, they can be broken down to prevent some pregnancy symptoms due to excessive hormone levels. This can be found in sprouted and fermented foods.
    • Fiber
      • As progesterone production goes on hyper-drive, our digestion slows. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables may be enough, or you may want to research incorporating a fiber supplement or digestive enzymes.

2nd Trimester

  • Key Developments: movement, senses

  • What are the key nutrients?

    • Beta-carotene
      • It is great for eye health, and the eyes develop at this time. So, eat some carrots and colorful produce.
    • Calcium
      • Your baby’s cartilage turns to bone at this time. Strong bones need plenty of calcium. Grass-fed, full-fat dairy is a great source of calcium. You can also include greens, sardines, okra, and broccoli.
    • Magnesium
      • Magnesium works with calcium in the formation of the bones. You need a good structure for a building to work. Your baby needs the same. Eat avocados, greens, and pumpkin seeds.
    • Vitamin K2  –
      • This nutrient gets confused with Vitamin K1, but is essential for calcium to go to its proper place in the bones. We all want our children to be strong, grow tall, and have great teeth. K2 is the workhorse for all of that, and many humans are deficient due to low-fat diets and not consuming grass-fed dairy. Include grass-fed dairy or a K2 supplement.
    • Vitamin D
      • This nutrient works in tandem with Vitamin A. It is important to have a good balance of both. When there is a deficiency in one, a person may develop toxicity symptoms of the other, and they need each other to perform their functions. Vitamin D works in the bone development, hormones and endocrine function, immune system, brain activity, nervous system, and the heart development.
    • Zinc
      • Zinc is great for muscle growth, immunity, and nutrient absorption. Your baby really starts to gain muscle and move more. Eat lamb, grass-fed beef, and chickpeas.

3rd Trimester

  • Key Developments: brain, lungs

  • What are the key nutrients?

    • Vitamin K2
      • Your babies bones continue to harden, and it is important to make sure the calcium for this goes to the right places. This supports proper formation of the bones. As above, work to include grass-fed dairy like Kerry Gold Butter or raw cheddar cheese and/or a K2 supplement.
    • Calcium
      • It is not only important for bone formation, but it will also help with muscle contraction as you look ahead to labor.
    • Magnesium
      • Magnesium aids in the strengthening of the bones and will help relax your bowels, which may be desired as your organs get squished as the baby grows. If you are struggling with elimination, you may find a magnesium supplement helpful like Ancient Minerals spray or Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm.
    • Vitamin D –
      • The third trimester is the period of the most rapid growth. The baby utilizes Vitamin D for their skeletal growth.
    • Phosphorus –
      • This is also critical for rapid and proper skeletal growth.
    • Healthy Fats
      • This really promotes brain growth in this critical phase. Plus, your baby builds its fat stores at this time to prepare for growth once outside the womb.

Nutrient Density is KEY

Again, I want to emphasize the key for the entire pregnancy (and let’s just include fertility, postpartum, breastfeeding, and life in general) is NUTRIENT DENSITY every day. This is not a life sentence to never have something again (like your favorite chocolate cake), but the more you center your diet around real, nutritious food, the more you and your baby will thrive! You may even enjoy being pregnant from time to time 🙂

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