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During pregnancy, nutrition and diet play a vital role in the healthy growth and development of the baby. The diet during the first month of pregnancy plays a significant role in the health of the developing foetus. This article will guide you about which foods to include and which ones to avoid during the first month of pregnancy.
Foods to Eat during the First Month of Pregnancy
By the time you test positive for pregnancy, you are already around 2 ½ weeks pregnant. So, accounting for that, you need to follow a specific diet plan during pregnancy. The first month pregnancy diet chart should include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Here are other foods you should include in your first-trimester diet for a healthy pregnancy:
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products (including fortified ones) are a great source of calcium, Vitamin D, protein, healthy fats, and folic acid. Include yoghurt, milk, and hard cheese in your first-month pregnancy diet.
2. Folate-rich Foods
Folate or folic acid is essential for the proper development of the baby’s neural tube, which later develops into the brain and spinal cord. It is important to add folate-rich foods to your diet even if you are taking folic acid supplements. Examples of such foods are spinach, kale, asparagus, citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils, avocado, Brussels sprouts, and okra.
3. Whole Grains
Wholegrains are a healthy source of carbohydrates, dietary fibre, Vitamin B-complex, and minerals like iron, magnesium and selenium. These are essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development. Examples of whole grains are barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur wheat, millets, and oatmeal.
4. Eggs and Poultry
Eggs are a good source of proteins, Vitamin A, B2, B5, B6, B12, D, E, and K, and minerals like phosphorous, selenium, calcium and zinc. Poultry is also an excellent source of proteins. Eating eggs and poultry meat in the first month of pregnancy will ensure healthy development of the foetus.
Fruits such as musk melons, avocados, pomegranates, bananas, guavas, oranges, sweet lime, strawberries, and apples contain several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for the growth of the unborn baby.
Eating plenty of vegetables will ensure your baby gets the widest range of nutrients Some vegetables you should add to your diet are broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, eggplant, cabbage, etc.
7. Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts are excellent sources of healthy fats, vitamins, proteins, minerals, flavonoids, and dietary fibre. Make sure you eat these regularly in the first month and also throughout your pregnancy for a healthy baby.
Fish has low-fat and high-quality protein. It is also a very good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins B2, D, and E, and essential minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and phosphorous. However, avoid swordfish, raw shellfish, and limit tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring.
Meats contain Vitamin B, proteins, zinc, and iron which are good for you and the baby. Include lean meats in your diet in the first month of pregnancy. It is also better to avoid undercooked meats.
10. Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for brain and eye development of the fetus. Another reason you should consume this is because of the presence of Vitamin D. Low intake of this vitamin can lead to pre-eclampsia, all the more reason pregnant women should include cod liver oil in their first month of pregnancy diet.
11. Dried Fruits
One serving of dried fruits can provide large amounts of vitamins, minerals, iron, potassium and folate to pregnant women. Prunes and dates are good choices now. However, these are also rich in natural sugar, so avoid taking more than one helping at a time.
12. Iodised Salt
Using iodised table salt during pregnancy is very important. That’s because salt infused with iodine can help the baby’s nervous system and brain to develop properly.
Foods To Avoid in the First Month of Pregnancy
There are some foods which should be avoided during early pregnancy as they may cause harm to the growing baby. Here are some of them:
1. Soft Cheese
Soft cheese is made from unpasteurised milk and may contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Hence, it is best to avoid soft cheese during early pregnancy.
2. Packaged and Processed Foods
Packaged and processed foods such as juices, microwave-ready meals, cakes, biscuits, condensed milk, etc. contain additives, preservatives, high levels of sugar and sodium, and empty calories that are neither good for you nor your baby. Some packaged foods may also contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Eat fresh, home-cooked meals made with natural or organic produce instead.
Seafood contains high levels of mercury, which has been linked to foetal brain damage and delay in development milestones. Hence, avoid seafood during early pregnancy and include freshwater fish in your diet instead.
Unripe and semi-ripe papayas contain latex, which can trigger uterine contractions and cause preterm labour or even miscarriage. Avoid these during pregnancy. Ripe papayas, however, contain several nutrients and can be consumed in moderation if your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
Pineapples contain a substance called bromelain which can soften the cervix. Softening of the cervix in early pregnancy can lead to miscarriages or preterm labour. So, it is better to avoid pineapples during early pregnancy.
6. Raw/Undercooked Eggs and Meats
Raw or undercooked meats can be contaminated by bacteria, salmonella, listeria, etc. which can affect the development of the unborn child.
7. Junk Food
Consuming too much junk food during pregnancy has been linked to mental health problems in children such as depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Studies have shown that consuming these kinds of foods during pregnancy can cause obesity in children.
Caffeine intake should be limited in early pregnancy as excess of it affects the nervous system and causes sleeplessness, irritability and nervousness. It has also been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.
9. Alcoholic Beverages
10. Sugary Foods
A pregnant woman needs an extra 300 calories every day to support the growth of the unborn child. However, consuming too many sugary foods such as sweets can cause weight gain and gestational diabetes.
11. Unpasteurised Products
During the first month of pregnancy and throughout, unpasteurised juice and milk are a strict no-no as these may contain harmful bacteria like E.coli. Goat and sheep milk should also be avoided.
First Month Pregnancy Diet Tips
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your diet for the first month of pregnancy:
- Take prenatal vitamins, including folic acid.
- Talk to your doctor before embarking on a strict diet as reduced food intake can affect the development of the foetus.
- Moderation is key – even healthy foods should be had in moderation. Excess of anything is bad for you and your baby.
- Include fruits and vegetables in your diet and cut down on junk food.
- Drink enough water.
The first month of pregnancy is a time when several changes take place in your body. Hormonal changes can cause mood swings, fatigue and morning sickness. Eating healthy food, having small meals at regular intervals, staying hydrated, doing moderate exercise, and being stress-free can minimise these symptoms. This will also ensure the healthy growth and development of your baby.