The first 1,000 days of child’s life, starting from day of conception till second birthday offer a brief but critical window of opportunity to shape child’s development. It is a time of both tremendous potential and enormous vulnerability. How well or how poorly a child fares during his first 1,000 days can mean the difference between a thriving future and one characterized by struggle. Good nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood plays a foundational role in enabling a child to grow, learn and thrive. In a real sense, nutrition provides the fuel that drives a child’s early development.
Why Nutrition in First Trimester is important?
There are three crucial stages in the first 1,000 days: pregnancy, infancy and toddlerhood.
Good nutrition helps you handle the extra demands on your body as your pregnancy progresses. It all starts from day 1, after conception, the human brain develops at an astonishing speed. It begins to grow very early on in pregnancy: the neural tube forms just 16 days after conception. The goal is to balance getting enough nutrients to support the growth of your fetus and maintaining a healthy weight.
How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?
During your first 12 weeks of pregnancy—the first trimester—you might gain only 1 to 5 pounds or none at all.
Weight gain depends on your health and your body mass index (BMI) before you were pregnant. If you were underweight before pregnancy, you should gain more weight than a woman who had a normal weight before pregnancy. If you were overweight or obese before pregnancy, you should gain less weight. The amount of weight gain differs by trimester:
See the below table for recommended weight gain during pregnancy.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
|Body Mass Index (BMI) Before Pregnancy||Rate of Weight Gain in the Second and Third Trimesters* (Pounds Per Week)||Recommended Total Weight Gain With a Single Fetus (in Pounds)||Recommended Total Weight Gain With Twins (in Pounds)|
|Less than 18.5 (underweight)||1.0 to 1.3||28 to 40||Not known|
|18.5 to 24.9 (normal weight)||0.8 to 1.0||25 to 35||37 to 54|
|25.0 to 29.9 (overweight)||0.5 to 0.7||15 to 25||31 to 50|
|30.0 and above (obese)||0.4 to 0.6||11 to 20||25 to 42|
*Assumes a first-trimester weight gain between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds
Source: Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. 2009. Weight Gain During Pregnancy: Reexamining the Guidelines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
What nutrients do you need during the first trimester?
Micronutrients are dietary components, such as vitamins and minerals, that are only required in relatively small amounts.
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories, or energy. We’re talking carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You’ll need to eat more of each type of nutrient during pregnancy.
Aim to meet essential pregnancy nutrients throughout the next nine months, but in the first trimester, focus in particular on mentioned below micronutrients
|Nutrient||Daily requirement for pregnant women||Sources|
|Folate||600mcg||Leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, orange juice, asparagus|
|Calcium||1000mg||Dairy products, leafy green vegetables, orange juice, and almonds|
|Iron||27mg||Meat, fish, poultry, cereals, whole grain breads, legumes, leafy green vegetables, dried peaches, apricots and raisins.|
|zinc||11mg||The same foods that contain iron, in addition to oysters, wheat germ and brown rice.|
- Folic acid: Found in beans, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and your prenatal vitamin is the most essential micronutrient in terms of first trimester nutrition — and prenatal nutrition in general. That’s because folic acid (also known as vitamin B9 or folate, when it’s in food form) plays a key role in preventing neural tube defects. To get the recommended 600 micrograms per day, take a daily prenatal vitamin and eat oranges, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, kidney beans, nuts, cauliflower and beets.
- Calcium: It’s critical for the growth of your baby’s teeth and bones. Since your growing baby will take calcium from your own stores, too little calcium in your diet can result in brittle bones (osteoporosis) later on. You can generally get the recommended 1,000 milligrams per day through a well-balanced diet including milk, cheese, yogurt and dark leafy greens, but if you’re worried you might be falling short, ask your OB/GYN if you should take a supplement.
- Iron: Iron is increasingly important as your blood supply ramps up to meet the demands of your growing baby. The goal of 27 milligrams per day can be a challenge to reach through food alone (beef, chicken, eggs, tofu and spinach are all good sources), so make sure you’re getting a solid dose of iron in your prenatal vitamin to reduce risk for pregnancy anemia.
- Vitamin C: C-rich foods like guava, oranges, broccoli and strawberries help to promote bone and tissue development in your growing baby and boost the absorption of iron. You should aim for 85 milligrams per day.
- DHA: A key omega-3 fatty acid, DHA can be found in low-mercury fish like anchovies, herring and sardines. You may be too queasy for seafood these days, so make sure DHA is included in your prenatal vitamin.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that pregnant women choose foods from what they consider to be the five essential food groups. These five food groups are:
During pregnancy, you should get a minimum of 60 grams of protein a day, which will account for approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of your calorie intake. It makes 2-3 servings a day. Select lean meats, poultry, fish, and eggs prepared with minimal amounts of fat. Beans (pinto, kidney, black, garbanzo) are also a good source of protein, as are lentils, split peas, nuts, and seeds.
One serving equals2-3 ounces of cooked meat, poultry, or fish, which is about the size of a deck of cards; 1 cup of cooked beans; 2 eggs; 2 tablespoons of peanut butter; or 1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) of nuts.
Whole grains: 3 servings a day. It is recommended that you eat a minimum of six servings of grains per day; at least 50 percent of those grains should be whole grains. Whole grain breads, cereals, crackers, and pasta provide fiber, which is very important during pregnancy. Eating a variety of fiber-containing foods helps maintain proper bowel function and can reduce your chances of developing constipation and hemorrhoids. As often as possible, select whole grain foods over those made with white flour. For example, eat whole wheat bread rather than white bread. One serving equals 1 slice of bread, 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal (about 1 cup of most cereals), or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice, or pasta
- Fruits: 3-4 servings a day. Include at least one citrus fruit (orange, grapefruit, tangerine) each day because citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Limit fruit juice consumption to no more than 1 cup a day; juice is high in calories compared with whole fruit, and it does not deliver the fiber that whole fruit does. One serving equals one medium piece of fruit such as an apple or orange, or 1/2 of a banana; 1/2 cup of chopped fresh, cooked, or canned fruit; 1/4 cup dried fruit; or 3/4 cup of 100-percent fruit juice.
- Vegetables: 3-5 servings a day. To get the greatest range of nutrients, think of a rainbow as you fill your plate with vegetables. Choose vegetables that are dark green (broccoli, kale, spinach), orange (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash), yellow (corn, yellow peppers), and red (tomatoes, red peppers). One serving equals 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables such as spinach or lettuce, or 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, cooked or raw.
- Dairy foods: 3 servings a day. Dairy foods provide the calcium that your baby needs to grow and that you need to keep your bones strong. To get sufficient calcium, drink milk and eat yogurt and cheese. To save on calories and saturated fat, choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products. If you are lactose intolerant and can’t digest milk, choose lactose-free milk products, calcium-fortified foods, and beverages such as calcium-fortified soymilk. One serving equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 11/2 ounces of natural cheese such as cheddar or mozzarella, or 2 ounces of processed cheese such as American.
During pregnancy your body needs more fat. Roughly 25 percent to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from fat, depending on your carbohydrate goals. Eating monounsaturated fat is preferred over saturated varieties.
If you are in the first trimester of pregnancy, you should be taking care of yourself generally. This involves getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, and listening to your body. This is an exciting and crucial period for you and your fetus, and you should take the time to fully experience the immense changes that are happening within you.