Every woman’s body reacts differently to pregnancy; however, some guidelines are common for all, like nutrition guidelines for the sake of the mom and the baby. Health expert Hitaf Zwein, licensed dietitian and nutritionist, will share the best guidelines to abide by for the second trimester of the pregnancy.

Why is the second trimester of the pregnancy important?

Congratulations! You have successfully made it to your second trimester. You will notice changes when comparing to your first three months but fear not. You will start showing more now as your baby grows by the day. And good news! All the uncomfortable smells and tastes you experienced during the 1st trimester will most likely disappear. It is also a turning point in the baby’s development because the fetus has developed its vital organs and systems and will now begin growing in length and weight.

To keep up with your baby’s growth, you will need to up your calorie intake. You don’t need to eat for two, you only have to consume up to 300 additional calories. Along with these calories, you have to increase your iron, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus intake. These vitamins and minerals help build strong bones in you and your developing baby.

What to eat during my 2nd trimester of pregnancy?

First off, the information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your doctor for any changes to your diet. Now on to the best food to eat in your second trimester:

  • Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are made up of sugar molecules that are strung together in long, complex chains. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables.

  • Lean & plant-based protein

Here are some lean protein foods you should consider: white-fleshed fish, plain greek yogurt, skinless white-meat poultry, lean red meat, egg whites. Don’t forget plant-based proteins found in dry beans, peas, and lentils or grains and nuts.

  • Milk & dairy products

Milk and dairy products are most effective for promoting fetal growth and neonatal birth size because they contain various nutrients such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, vitamin B12, and riboflavin, among others.

Dairy should be consumed three times per day for maximum effect. Fat levels in milk may vary according to each person, so consult your doctor for the right type for you.

  • Fruits & vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are filled with nutrients. When you add a variety of them to your diet, you'll likely get most of the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you and your baby need. Eating fruits and vegetables helps also prevent constipation, a common symptom during pregnancy.

What to avoid during my 2nd trimester of pregnancy?

Pregnancy compares to navigating some treacherous waters, but with some expert help, you can get to shore safely. Here are some foods and other things to avoid:

  • Uncooked seafood & meat

Raw fish, especially shellfish, can cause several infections. These can be viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections, such as norovirus, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Listeria. Some of these infections may only affect you, causing dehydration and weakness. Other infections may be passed on to your baby with serious, or even fatal, consequences. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to listeria infections.

Some of the same issues with raw fish affect undercooked meat, too. Eating undercooked or raw meat increases your risk of infection from several bacteria or parasites, including Toxoplasma, E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Bacteria may threaten the health of your little one, possibly leading to stillbirth or severe neurological illnesses, including intellectual disability, blindness, and epilepsy.

  • High mercury fish

Mercury is a highly toxic element. It has no known safe level of exposure and is most commonly found in polluted water. In higher amounts, it can be toxic to your nervous system, immune system, and kidneys. It may also cause serious developmental problems in children, with adverse effects even in lower amounts.

  • Unpasteurized milk, cheese, and fruit juice

Raw milk, unpasteurized cheese, and soft-ripened cheeses can contain an array of harmful bacteria, including Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.

The same goes for unpasteurized juice, which is also prone to bacterial contamination. These infections can all have life-threatening consequences for an unborn baby.

  • Alcohol

It’s advised to completely avoid drinking alcohol when pregnant, as it increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Even a small amount can negatively impact your baby’s brain development. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can also cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which involves facial deformities, heart defects, and intellectual disability.

  • Unhealthy fats

An optimal pregnancy eating plan should mainly consist of whole foods, with plenty of nutrients to fulfill your and your baby’s needs. Processed junk food is generally low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar, and added fats. Avoid unhealthy fats in the kitchen, like butter, margarine, and others.

  • Artificial sweeteners

It is recommended to stay as far away from artificial sweeteners as possible, but an occasional soda will not hurt. Switch to natural sweeteners like raw honey or maple syrup for safety. Studies on sucralose and stevia have concluded that they are safe to consume during pregnancy without risks.

Hitaf’s final tip for 2nd-trimester women is to work out! Exercise during pregnancy can: 

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling.
  • Boost your mood and energy levels.
  • Help you sleep better.
  • Prevent excess weight gain.
  • Promote muscle tone, strength, and endurance.

And most importantly, exercise leads to an easier delivery when the time comes.

What guidelines did you follow during your 2nd trimester of pregnancy? We’d love to know.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! 

July 13, 2021 — Mint Basil Team

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