heading into the second trimester

I know that you’ve packed a lot of nutrients into your diet in the first trimester, so let me tell you that entering the second trimester is usually a much easier transition. The first few weeks of pregnancy throws a number of curve balls at you with food aversions, morning sickness, all day sickness, tiredness, and now is the perfect time to make up for any lost nutrients in your diet. Let’s start packing in those nutrient-loaded calories for both you and your baby.

Heading into the second trimester brings a few more changes for you nutritionally speaking. Iron starts to become more important with blood volume increasing by approximately 45%, and knowing that this is an essential nutrient to transport oxygen to all parts of your body, and to your baby brings our attention to include iron-rich foods into your diet.

vivienne-stallwood-second-trimester-nutrients

You’ll be please to hear that your body adapts its absorption ability accordingly throughout pregnancy (our bodies are so VERY clever), and although iron requirements are reduced in the first trimester due to the absence of menstruation, they start to rise steadily throughout the remainder of pregnancy.

It’s important that your diet includes foods to maintain your iron levels during this second trimester, and particularly heading into the third. I want you to be fully optimised and ready for going into labour/delivery and postpartum.

I also want you to be aware of any signs and symptoms that your body may be trying to tell you that you’re running a little low on iron stores too (remember, your body is very clever at giving you signs when things aren’t 100%).

Be aware of symptoms including-

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Weakness

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Pale skin

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Chest pain

If you’re experiencing any of these please be sure to contact your medical doctor or midwife who will arrange for a simple blood test to monitor your iron levels. 

A few things that can help you absorb iron better…

  • Vitamin C – including foods like citrus fruits, spinach, lentils, quinoa, beans into your weekly menu is a great idea.

  • Tannins – these inhibit the absorption of iron, so avoid taking iron with tannin-rich foods/beverages like coffee and black tea.

  • Calcium – try not to take iron with calcium as these two nutrients compete for absorption. You may want to consider a prenatal supplement that doesn’t contain iron, and take iron as a separately if you need to.

  • Cast iron pans – using a cast iron pan to cook with can increase the iron levels released in some foods.

Calcium is another nutrient to mention heading into the second trimester, because around 20 weeks of pregnancy, calcium gains an important role. This is because your baby’s skeletal system, muscles, and heart develop, and let’s not forget that it’s still an essential nutrient for you too, for your teeth and bones.

If you’re not getting enough calcium in your diet, your body will take what your baby needs. This is important to be aware of in the second trimester, and especially important in the third trimester when about 80% of your baby’s calcium stores are built, especially during the final 6 weeks of pregnancy. You may be surprised that actual requirements for calcium don’t increase during pregnancy, it remains at 1000mg/day. But, once again our bodies are very clever, adapt to pregnancy, and the absorption rate doubles.

Vitamins D and K are both fat-soluble vitamins that play a central role in calcium metabolism and we’ll talk about these along with other essentials for the third trimester in next weeks blog.

Did you know that protein requirements also start to increase in the second trimester too?

Considering that the amino acids of protein are the building blocks of muscle, tissue, bones, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails, is it any wonder that they are so very important when growing a baby from scratch?

Have you heard of glycine? Well, this amino acid becomes conditionally essential because of its role in building connective tissue during pregnancy and supports your growing uterus, skin changes and also helps to develop the placenta. Pretty important, right!

The best dietary sources of glycine are found in the connective tissue of animals, specifically collagen which can be found in bone broth and slow cooked meats (choose bone-in, skin on cuts of meat).

So much to consider with all the changes happening throughout pregnancy. If you have any questions be sure to pop them below or reach out to me through email.

  1. […] and iron needs increase during the second trimester, and these are still two crucial nutrients in the third trimester. Protein actually increases a […]

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