Even before a woman discovers the two pink lines on her pregnancy test kit, her body starts to give signs as it undergoes changes. Often due to our lifestyles, our bodies in today’s times are not 100% fit or prepared to bring a new life into this world hence it is essential that as soon as a woman discovers she is pregnant, she pays significant attention to her health and nutrition.
The first three months of pregnancy are the most critical months, also known as the first trimester. This period witnesses the fetus’s critical development as well as major hormonal and physical changes in a mother- to-be’s body. These changes need to be supported with the right food and nutrition to have a healthy journey ahead. An expecting mother’s nutrient needs during pregnancy are almost 40-60% higher than before. While a prenatal supplement ensures the deficiencies are taken care off, a well balanced diet along with a supplement like Mother’s Horlicks, enriched with 25 vital nutrients and 50% RDA of nutrients like Vitamin A and E, ensures the right nutrition for mother’s health and baby’s growth.
Here is your GO TO CHECKLIST of top 5 nutrients that you must include in your diet during first trimester of pregnancy:
Baby’s neural tube i.e. the brain, the spinal cord and other neural tissues of the central nervous system, is well formed in trimester one. Folate plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps baby’s neural tube develop into his/her brain and spinal cord. Studies have shown that women who take folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant cut their chances of delivering early by 50% or more. Consumption of folic acid prevents birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Recommended daily intake: 400 gms of folic acid everyday, before and during the first trimester of pregnancy
Omega-3 Fatty Acids-DHA & EPA
Major part of the baby’s nervous system is developed in the first trimester. Eyes, nose, mouth, and ears become more distinct during this period. EPA, an essential Omega-3 supports the heart, immune system and inflammatory responses whereas DHA supports the brain, eyes and central nervous system making these as essential nutrients for a pregnant woman in the first trimester. Adding EPA and DHA to the diet of pregnant women also has a positive effect on the cognitive development of the baby.
Recommended daily intake: 300mg of DHA through diet or supplements during the first trimester
It is estimated that up to 95% of pregnant women consume less choline during pregnancy than what is recommended.During the first trimester, partly due to surges in hormones, a pregnant woman may experience nausea, mood swings, irritability, and other physical symptoms that are similar to premenstrual syndrome. Choline helps to maintain good metabolism, which in turn helps in regulation of memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions in pregnant women. Choline also plays an important role in baby’s proper spinal cord formation and early brain development.
Recommended Daily intake: 450gms of Choline in the first trimester
By the end of 4 weeks of pregnancy, the baby's heart is ready to beat. All major body systems continue to develop and function including the circulatory, nervous, digestive, and urinary systems. Calcium plays a vital role in helping the baby grow a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles as well as develop a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities. If enough calcium is not obtained from during pregnancy, the baby tends to draw it from mother-to-be’s bones, which may impair her own health later on.
Recommended daily intake: 1,000 mg of calcium every day during the first trimester
Since the baby's brain and spinal cord development is one of the focal points of the first trimester, Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin when combined with folic acid during pregnancy, plays a vital role in preventing spina bifida and other spinal and central nervous system birth defects in baby. Due to high levels of progesterone mommy-to-be struggles with heartburn, indigestion, constipation and gas. Vitamin B12 helps ease this by improving energy, mood and stress levels by aiding the metabolization of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Recommended daily intake: 2.6 mcg of Vitamin B12
A healthy first trimester is crucial to the normal development of the fetus. The mother-to-be may not be showing much on the outside, but a lot is changing and developing inside her body. Apart from the list above, a healthy balanced diet rich in iron, protein and other essential nutrients, is a must during this period to ensure a strong foundation for the baby’s growth and development as well as good health of mom-to be
Disclaimer: It is important to consult with your Doctor before deciding the dose and content of nutrition before consumption.
The views, opinions and recommendations expressed in this article are solely those of the author and intended as an educational aid