Congratulations – you are pregnant! At the Creation Fertility clinic we hear this wonderful news regularly – but it is often followed with concern around food and exercise. Questions such as – what can I eat? Can I continue with my exercise classes or go to the gym? So, today Natalie from Maternity at home and I have collaborated to ease your concerns and support you during the critical 1st trimester of pregnancy when a baby’s cells divide and multiply rapidly and its organs are formed.
Nutrition During the 1st Trimester of Pregnancy
In fact, you have been pregnant for a least 10 days before the pregnancy test clearly marked POSITIVE! Hopefully, during this time you have been eating well – maybe you have been following a Fertility Diet because you were preparing for pregnancy anyway.
Now you know you are pregnant do you need to change your diet during the 1st trimester of pregnancy?
The short answer to this is NO – providing you have been eating well. It is a myth that you need to eat for two but it is important that you eat as well as you can from the moment you discover you are pregnant:
Avoid alcohol, smoking, recreational drugs, caffeine (that’s coffee, fizzy drinks, tea), sweets or foods that you would not regularly eat. This is not the time to explore raw fish, not do I recommend you eat badly cooked eggs or make a meat pate made from liver due to the increased risk of food poisoning.
Now you are pregnant it is important to reduce your exposure to all types of chemicals in order to protect yourself and your developing baby. If you take in chemicals – so does your baby!
Remember to eat protein within each meal to help maintain blood sugar levels and ease “morning sickness” . Amino acids contained within protein foods such as eggs, fish, lean meta and oultry supports the development of your baby. Pregnant women require an extra 10 grams of protein daily (or a total of 60 grams daily) for a healthy baby and placenta. A three-ounce serving of meat provides approximately 20 grams of protein.
Maintain a high intake of essential fats – oily fish, nuts and seeds. Recent research³ has proven that essential fats are crucial for brain, eyes and the central nervous system of your baby but can also help to prevent low birthweight and premature labour. For you essential fats are equally as important (particularly marine essential fats) because it has been shown to prevent blood from clotting inappropriately and therefore reduces the risk of miscarriage.
Keep your hydration up – sip water throughout the day – at least 1.5 litres daily because water is the essence of life and supports not only personal wellbeing but reduces the risk of the common 1st trimester complaints such as fatigue, constipation, headaches and nausea.
Choose quality fresh un processed food– organic when possible because it does not contain chemicals in the form of pesticides, herbicides and other toxic substances
Remember – Caffeine is a drug ! It can limit blood flow to the placenta, as well as increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It also puts additional strain on the liver, which is already busy processing the increased hormonal demands related to pregnancy and it crosses the placenta. A study in 2006¹ looked at over 1,000 pregnant women and determined that “women who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine (in any form, that’s 2 cups of coffee by the way) per day had twice the miscarriage risk as women who consumed no caffeine.”
Stay off sugar! Craving sugary foods increases the risk of gestational diabetes, causes blood sugar swings and unnecessary weight gain. Optimal blood glucose control is important throughout pregnancy, both for the mother’s health and the baby’s. Glucose in a mother’s blood crosses the placenta to her baby, affecting the baby’s blood glucose level². (The placenta, a flat circular organ, links the unborn baby to the mother’s uterus, to provide oxygen, nutrients, and the elimination of wastes.) The baby begins making its own insulin around 13 weeks gestation so these first 12 weeks are a perfect time to let sugar go!
To keep things simple here is a pregnancy food plan that I have written for you to download. If you have any special concerns I recommend a Bespoke Pregnancy Nutrition Programme with me!
What about nausea during the 1st trimester of pregnancy?
Not everyone suffers with “morning sickness” during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Although uncomfortable and for some poor women extreme, morning sickness has been associated with fewer miscarriages, probably due to the high of certain hormones and reduced levels of vitamin B6.
Morning sickness can be eased by regulating blood sugar levels so I recommend you continue with the pregnancy food plan or visit me for a personal bespoke nutrition programme. I also recommend you take a good quality pregnancy care supplement with essential fats throughout your pregnancy.
Additional natural remedies include ginger root – wonderful anti nausea support. Avoid the ginger biscuits and try these remedies instead:
If you prefer to make mugs of tea then add enough ginger to suit you (grated or diced), maybe a small amount of honey or maple syrup to sweeten or a slice of lime or lemon. Add boiled water, leave to cool slightly and drink when at the correct temperature for you
Try Ginger ice cubes! If keeping food or drink down is difficult for you right now then freeze some of your ginger tea into ice cubes and suck when necessary.
Cook with ginger: Try adding some to your fresh juices, stir fries or home made protein bars
or use apple cyder vinegar: Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of apple cyder vinegar to water and sip slowly. Some women find this very helpful
Enjoy some complementary therapies such as pregnancy reflexology or acupuncture – these wonderful therapies support you throughout your pregnancy
Justine Evans ND, BSc N Med – Fertility and Pregnancy Expert is the Founder of Creation Fertility and its products. Justine offers a multi dimensional approach to fertility blending Nutritional Therapy with alchemy and yogic philosophy. Call 07747 133170 to book an appointment with her now
- Weng X, Odouli R, and Li D-K. Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: a prospective cohort study. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008;198:279.e1-279.e8.
Don’t forget to download the pregnancy food plan now!
There is no doubt that impending motherhood will make you want to take better care of yourself. For you to have a healthy pregnancy, you do need to be in good physical condition just as we discussed with Fertility exercise. However, the desire to be in good shape often wars with a would-be mother’s natural protective instinct to take care of her child. With the first trimester having the highest risk of miscarriage, you may be tempted to just ‘put your feet up’ and avoid exercise altogether.
In fact, that could be a mistake. Exercise is not dangerous for your baby. Research has shown that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and during labour. Staying healthy while pregnant is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby. Follow our guide below to find out about the safest exercises to perform in the first three months of your pregnancy, and which ones to avoid. You can download my infographic too!
What to Do and What Not To Do
During early pregnancy, if you were previously used to an active lifestyle, you can keep up your normal daily activities and exercises such as walking, yoga, dancing, or even gentle running. However, you should avoid contact sports like kickboxing and anything with a risk of injury. If you were planning any extreme sports like scuba diving or high altitude climbing, these could be harmful to your baby. You can still do most normal activities, though.
The most important thing is to be aware that you may be more tired than usual and to avoid falls. If you are not used to an active lifestyle, then you need to take things slowly and gently. Now is a perfect time to start a gentle exercise routine that will help strengthen your body for later pregnancy and get into healthy habits that can last a lifetime. Here are three of the best exercises to do during early pregnancy
The gentlest and safest exercise for a pregnant woman and with no risk of falling (as long as you’re careful on the poolside) swimming is an excellent way to stay fit and comfortable during pregnancy. Try smooth strokes like breaststroke, and go 2-3 times a week.
Pilate exercises are great for building core stability and function. However, certain activities such as lying on your back or twists should be avoided. Try to find an instructor who is certified to teach Pilates during pregnancy there are plenty of them out there.
Try the serene style of hatha yoga and be sure to tell the instructor you are pregnant. Yoga is great for building strength and flexibility while promoting relaxation. You will feel absolutely relieved after each session and it will pave your path to a happy pregnancy. MuMuYoga offers pregnancy yoga classes in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
If you follow these steps, then nutrition and exercise during pregnancy can help to keep you feeling fit and active and set you up for a healthy birth!
Disclaimer: This blog, its information and articles are meant for general information only and should not be construed as any form of medical or other guidance or recommendation. The suggestions do not take into account whether you are taking any form of medication or suffer with food sensitivities or allergies or any health issue. Naturopathic consultations and assessment are recommended on an individual basis.