Specific nutritional needs and tips, trimester-wise

1st TRIMESTER: No extra calories needed!

Folic Acid for the normal development of your baby’s brain, skull and spinal cord.

Your baby’s brain, skull and spine form during the first few weeks of gestation, before you even know you are expecting! Folic acid, or folate, is a B-vitamin needed to avoid neural tube defects known as spina bifida.

Tip: Take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet everyday + eat foods rich in this vitamin.

Good food sources of folic acid: dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spring greens, kale, okra), pulses (chick peas, beans, lentils), corn, baked potatoes, asparagus, fresh peas, oranges and orange juice, eggs, brown rice nad foods fortified with folic acid (breakfast cereals, bran flakes, wholegrain breads and polyunsaturated margarines).

Tip: Folic acid is easily lost during cooking, so steam vegetables or cook in only a little water for a short time.

Iron to prevent anaemia, infections, to support baby’s growth and brain development and to allow baby to build sufficient stores for later use.

Good food sources of iron:

Tip: For better iron absorption, have a vitamin C rich fruit/veggie with or just after your meal and avoid tea 1 hour before and 1 hour after a meal containing iron.

Calcium for your baby’s bones and teeth and to keep yours healthy too!

Good food sources of calcium: low fat dairy products (skimmed milk, low fat cheeses and yoghurt), fish with edible bones like sardines, tofu (a vegetable protein made from soya beans), breakfast cereals and bread, plain almonds, oranges and dried fruits such as figs and apricots, and green leafy vegetables like watercress, broccoli or kale.

Vitamin D to help your body absorb and use calcium

Only a few foods contain vitamin D: oily fish like sardines, hardboiled egg, low-fat milk, asparagus, fortified margarines, some breakfast cereals, taramasalata.

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight (especially early morning) on your skin. There’s no need to sunbathe though as the amount of sun needed to make sufficient vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning.

Coping with nausea

More information on first trimester nutrition

2nd TRIMESTER: Still no extra calories needed!

Vitamin C to form collagen, a structural protein that's a component of cartilage, tendons, bones, and skin

Good food sources of Vitamin C: citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons), fruits and vegetables with a deep colour (kiwi, berries, guavas, cantaloupes, pineapple, pumpkin, squash) and dark green vegetables (spinach, Brussels’ sprouts, bell peppers, broccoli, pak choy).

Omega-3 (DHA) for brain, nervous and immune system development

Good food sources of omega-3: fish and shellfish low in mercury (shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, catfish) and omega-3 enriched egg.

Magnesium to reduce cramps in mommy and strengthen baby’s bones

Good food sources of Magnesium:

Coping with constipation

More information on second trimester nutrition

3rd TRIMESTER: Now you need 200 extra calories daily!

200 calories: Does that sound like a lot for you? It actually isn’t. Here’s how to get these extra calories in a healthy way:

If you have any questions or are worried about anything, don’t hesitate to contact your OBGYN, registered dietitian or any health care assistant.

More information on third trimester nutrition

You might also like:

Your guide to first trimester nutrition

Your guide to second trimester nutrition

Your guide to third trimester nutrition

Weight gain during pregnancy

A guide to your nutritional requirements in pregnancy

What’s so fishy about eating fish during pregnancy? Get your facts straight!

Digestive problems during pregnancy

Healthy diet for vegan pregnancy

Healthy nutrition tips for the vegetarian mothers-to-be

Prenatal vitamins explained

Peanuts during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Managing food cravings during pregnancy

Foods to avoid in pregnancy


Your New Pregnancy Bible

The experts' guide to pregnancy and early parenthood - by Dr Anne Deans


Your guide to second trimester nutrition

Your guide to third trimester nutrition

Bulimia, fertility and pregnancy

Caffeine in pregnancy: How much is too much?

“Pass the sick bag”: Eating your way through Hyperemesis Gravidarum

The role of probiotics in breastfeeding

Digestive problems during pregnancy

Calcium during pregnancy – what you need to know

Your guide to first trimester nutrition

Trying to Conceive? Foods you should avoid

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