For many mums that suffered morning sickness and food aversions in the first trimester, the second trimester is a welcome relief! For those that are still experiencing nausea, hang in there, only 9% of women have morning sickness past 20 weeks.
For me, it took a little longer than 13 weeks to get back to broccoli and kale, with most food aversions completely gone by 20 weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still craving a hot chicken and mayo roll for lunch from time to time but thankfully once I passed the first trimester, I could stomach more leafy greens, fermented veggies and meat dishes other than spaghetti Bolognese.
So you are in your second trimester, what changes do you need to make to your diet?
Now that your baby is growing, there is a small increase in your total calorie requirements. Whilst there were no increased energy demands in the first trimester, during the second trimester you need to add an extra 600-1200kj.
The best way to do this is to make your snacks more nourishing. For Example, instead of just having a piece of fruit or crackers and cheese, have both!
Unfortunately there isn’t a simple list of foods that you need to start eating in the second trimester, that weren’t suitable for your first trimester. All foods that are recommended for pregnancy are required throughout your entire pregnancy.
In saying that, there are a few key nutrients you may want to pay attention to now, particularly if you had nausea and food aversions in the first trimester.
During the first trimester, your baby’s brain, nervous system and organs are developing, which requires a particular focus on nutrients such as folate, choline, Vitamin B6, B12 and zinc.
Come the second trimester, your baby’s skin and bones are developing, requiring more calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, Vitamin D and K, and collagen.
So what does all this mean and how should your diet change?
1. Ensure you are including plenty of magnesium rich foods such as buckwheat, leafy greens, nuts and seeds and raw dark chocolate.
2. Include more calcium rich foods including yoghurt, cottage cheese, smoothies, kefir, tinned salmon (bones in) or sardines, tahini and almonds.
3. Add in bone broth and slow cooked, tough cuts of meat for collagen.
Collagen contains the essential amino acid glycine. Glycine is needed for foetal DNA, skeletal development, the formation of connective tissue, and the development of your baby’s internal organs.
It’s also required for your own stretching skin, growing uterus, pelvic floor integrity, and your connective tissue health. By the end of your pregnancy, your uterus is estimated to contain 800% more collagen than pre-pregnancy!
4. Boost your vitamin C intake by adding in more citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, capsicum, broccoli, kiwis and strawberries
5. For Vitamin D, the sun is your best source, so make sure you are getting out in the sunshine when you can. Ensuring your levels are adequate through a blood test is important.
6. Be sure to continue with your omega-3 supplement if you aren’t eating enough low mercury, high omega-3 fish, as well as your prenatal supplement.
Other factors to consider for the second trimester
During this trimester, your baby develops taste buds
Research shows that what you eat during pregnancy can influence your baby’s taste preferences. So this is the time to really vary your diet and eat as many different types and flavours of food of possible, to help your baby be accustomed to a range of tastes. Try a variety of different fruits and vegetables, including bitter tasting things like Brussel sprouts and rocket, as well as plenty of herbs and spices.
Include allergens in your diet
Include wheat, fish, seafood soy, peanuts and tree nuts (e.g almonds) to help build up your baby’s immune system, even if you tend to avoid these foods.
Focus on improving gut health for both you and your baby
Include prebiotic foods (such as garlic, onion, leek, bananas, cooked and cooled potato/sweet potato, oats, seaweed) and probiotic rich foods (such as yoghurt, kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi) for your gut microbiome. Your gut health has a big impact on the future health of your baby so if you haven’t started to incorporate these foods, now is the time!
As you progress through the second trimester, you may experience heartburn or it may worsen if you already had it. Ways to help are:
Eat small regular meals/snacks instead of 3 large meals
Avoid drinking water with meals, instead drink in between meals
Remain upright for at least one hour after eating and try to eat dinner a few hours before bed time
Aloe vera juice or milk can help to neutralise stomach acid
Avoid very hot foods (e.g soup) or very cold foods (e.g ice cream)
Avoid common triggers or your own identified triggers, which often included spicy or fatty foods, chocolate, acidic foods like tomato based meals, carbonated drinks and caffeine .
Use pillows to prop yourself up when sleeping and sleep on your left side so that your stomach isn’t positioned higher than your oesophagus, which may lead to heartburn.
At month 6, you will have your Glucose Tolerance Test for Gestational Diabetes
This involves consuming 75grams of glucose in one go. It may leave you feeling a bit average but there are some dietary strategies you can put in place afterwards to counteract the negative effects, including have a meal containing plenty of protein and healthy fats.
You may also start to feel restricted with some exercise or feeling too big. Now is the time to book in to a prenatal class. It will keep you motivated by other pregnant women exercising and it’s fun to chat about all things pregnancy related!
If you haven’t had a follow up appointment with a dietitian since you first became pregnant, now is a great time for a review to discuss the changes required for the second trimester and to address your own personalised needs.