Focus on key foods during second trimester of pregnancy

Now entering her third trimester, dietitian Aoife Hearne is feeling great, but is lamenting the fact there will be a lot of ‘lasts’ with this, her final pregnancy.
Focus on key foods during second trimester of pregnancy

Focus on key foods AS I hit the start of the third trimester, I have to say I’m feeling great. I love this stage of pregnancy. I love having a nice round bump and knowing that my existence is essential keeping the little one inside me alive.

For many women, the second trimester is a really great stage — the nausea and exhaustion of the early weeks are gone, and you start feeling like yourself again, which is exactly how I’m feeling right now.

The best part of the second trimester is starting to feel those lovely kicks from the little one(s) growing inside. It really is such a special feeling. It’s a feeling that I treasure, especially this time around as this will be our final baby.

The realisation that these are the last kicks I will feel is slowly starting to dawn on me. And as I write this, I’m aware there will be a lot of ‘lasts’ during this pregnancy. I can’t deny there is some sadness yet I’m acutely aware of how lucky we have been. The reality is that it has to come to an end at some point, and I’m not sure I could handle more than three children.

Around this time, some of those crazy pregnancy cravings start to kick in. My early cravings have been the same in every pregnancy — goats cheese and pickled beetroot, I can’t get enough of the stuff.

This time around though there is another few added into the mix — ice cream and pink lady apples. Sometimes I feel there is not enough ice cream in the world — at least I’ll hit my calcium needs!

During the second trimester your baby now depends on you for everything he/she needs for growth of brain and other organs. So, as you can imagine, what you eat from now on really matters.

What’s happening with baby?

Movements become more coordinated baby starts to kick, make facial expressions.

Starting to develop suck and swallow reflexes.

By the end of six months, baby will have hair and their own distinct fingerprints and footprints.

Power nutrients

Iron is essential. Here’s an example of what to eat to meet the 27mg daily recommended intake:

100g beef (3mg); 1 large salmon darn (1mg); 100g spinach (2mg); 2 Weetabix (4mg).

Fibre is another important nutrient. To reach the recommended 28g daily intake, here’s what you could eat:

2 medium potatoes, with skin (8g); 1 slice wholemeal bread (2.5g); 30g oats (3g); 1 medium apple (2g); 3 spears broccoli (4g).

Other important nutrients

Fluid ( 1.5L - 2L daily) sip water, milk regularly to support your increasing blood supply.

While you may or may not like it — weight gain is a necessity. During the second trimester, much of the weight gain is a reflection of building your breast tissue, placenta and blood supply to nourish your baby.

Towards the end of the second trimester and the third trimester most of the weight gain reflects placenta growth and of course growth of your baby. In general, you need an extra 200 to 300 calories to match the increase in energy needs. This sadly is quite small and the equivalent of a small sandwich or yogurt and fruit — so technically you are eating for about 1.25 not two.

No matter what weight category you fit into, this is not a time to try and lose weight. That being said, gaining weight gradually and within the guidelines below is important to reduce risk of c-section, hypertension and gestational diabetes. (see panel below left).

One of the most important things for present and future health is regular exercise. When you get pregnant this doesn’t have to stop. Moderate exercise during a healthy pregnancy is safe and most women should aim for 30 minutes most days of the week. If you feel any pain/discomfort in your back or pelvis while exercising it would be a good idea to visit your GP or a chartered physiotherapist who will be able to assess and treat any issues.

SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) is a condition that can occur around 26 weeks pregnancy — when the ligaments that normally keep your pelvic bone in place during pregnancy become relaxed and stretchy too soon before birth. This can lead to pelvic pain.

I know this pain only too well as I experienced SPD during my first pregnancy. At that point, I had the unrealistic expectation of being able to run right up until labour. My body wasn’t slow in telling me this wasn’t going to happen. It was one of the most disappointing parts of my first pregnancy. However, with the help of a chartered physiotherapist, I have been able to manage this better during my last and current pregnancy. Running is still off the menu, but I have been able to continue walking and I also do pilates to keep back pain at bay.

This week’s myth to bust is the incorrect belief that you have to avoid fish while pregnant. In fact, fish is a healthy protein choice and should be included as part of healthy diet. You should aim for 8 to 12 oz of fish each week. The US Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend avoiding swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish marlin and shark due to potentially high levels of mercury, but all other fish is a great choice all the way through pregnancy.

I’m off to get a dental cleaning this week, since gum inflammation and poor dental health is associated with higher rates of preterm delivery, so make sure to cross that off your list.

Points to note

By five months your baby will have doubled in size.

Power nutrients: Iron, fibre and fluids

Recommended weight gain now 1lb per week

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