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Pregnancy First Trimester: Weeks 1 to 12

Posted by Dr Julie Douglass
Pregnancy First Trimester: Weeks 1 to 12

Pregnancy is one of the few conditions that we can visually see the body demonstrating its power of positive adaption, and it is absolutely extraordinary. However, we are generally viewing only the external results of pregnancy. Whilst they are not always viewable on the outside; in the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through dramatic changes that affect almost every organ in the body. Did you know that expectant mothers require an addition 500km’s of extra capillaries, blood volume increases by 50% and the size of the heart expands by 10-15%?

Then there’s actually the task of growing a new human, with all its nutritional needs for constant cellular division and healthy growth. All of these needs are entirely dependent on what the mother consumes and what she has in her pre-pregnancy reserves. It is critical that the mother continues to nourish herself well. This is not always easy with 80% of women experiencing morning sickness in the first trimester between the fourth and seventh week.

Calorie requirements increase by only 10-15% in the second and third trimester. Therefore it is the quality of the food consumed that is priority in the first trimester. This food should revolve around highly nutritious, high fibre and whole foods to obtain sufficient folate, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. One of the easiest ways to ensure you are maintaining all of the additional nutritional support needed at this very special time is with a quality ante-natal multivitamin. Our top pics include;

Mygen Health Fertility Formula

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first trimester diet

There are a number specific nutrients, vitamins and minerals that require increases throughout pregnancy (see below). In addition to a healthy diet, you can find benefit from a good quality supplement throughout your pregnancy. It is important to speak with your health practitioner to ensure you are getting all the nutritional support you need for baby’s growth and development.

This includes;

  1. Iron 27mg/day
  2. Magnesium 360mg/day
  3. Zinc 11mg/day – vital during periods of growth, particularly in pregnancy and supports a robust immune system.
  4. Iodine 220mg/day - to help support foetal and infant neurodevelopment
  5. Thiamine 1.4mg/day
  6. Riboflavin 1.4mg/day
  7. Niacin 18mg/day
  8. Vitamin B6 1.9mg/day
  9. Folate 600mcg/day (note; activated folate) – to assist in maintaining normal blood and development of the neural tube.
  10. Vitamin B12 2.6mcg/day
  11. Vitamin C 85mg/day
  12. Calcium and D3 – for the growth, development and mineralisation of bones.

Early Signs of Pregnancy - Morning Sickness

Morning sickness can discourage the ability to eat nourishing foods, and directing us to bland, dry, high carbohydrate type foods. This is a survival mechanism, as the body is protecting its precious cargo, and these foods are rapidly digested to reduce feelings of nausea and the potential to vomit. It's important to give into your cravings every now and again. You may start having cravings for carbohydrates and foods that aren't always good for you. It's important to give your body what it craves every now and again as you will need these carbohydrates for energy. Whilst there is no cure for morning sickness, there are a couple of powerful nutrients and herbs that have been clinically researched in the proven ability to help. 

Vitamin B6 has scientifically demonstrated its capacity to ease nausea and vomiting commonly associated with first trimester morning sickness.

Ginger has been traditionally been used for centuries for nausea, in cooking or as a supplement for this same reason.

For some women, nausea can be a result of hunger, due to increased demands for energy on the body, so maintaining constant small snacks may help

Foods to Avoid When Pregnant

No surprises here. Research continues to show that alcohol and smoking will increase low birth weight and the risk of adverse birth outcomes. This is caused by toxicity of chemical residues crossing the placenta and decreased Vitamin C, Beta carotene (i.e. vitamin A), B12, B6 and folate absorption rates – causing deficiency and associated problems.

There are no safe levels of alcohol or smoking in pregnancy as both will cross the placenta barrier and can harm the foetus.

Caffeine, and products containing caffeine, should be limited to no more than 1 cup a day, or ideally avoided. There is significant evidence showing consumption over 300mg may have associations with lower growth rates and birth weights, which is a significant impact.

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