Eating Well in Pregnancy, Part Three: Trimester Concerns (and What to Do About Them)

Today concludes Laurie Meher’s three-part series on eating well during pregnancy. (Here’s part one and part two.) Meher is a Holistic Nutritionist and Mom specializing in family nutrition.   She shares recipes and information on baby and toddler food on her blog:

When you are pregnant it is important to remember that your baby will take all of its nutrients from you, Mom.   While it is comforting to know that your baby will always get what it needs, you need to take care of yourself.  Otherwise you will find that once baby arrives you will not have the basics of healthy nutrition to get you through some long nights, a few emotional days and many exciting times.

The first trimester is tricky as many women are not ready to share the news of the pregnancy.  Finding a balance between acting normal and feeling completely out of sorts is quite a challenge!

Morning sickness – There are several theories about the cause of morning sickness: liver activity, low blood-sugar and hormonal changes.  During the night your liver is processing the toxins from the day and gets ready to eliminate the toxins from the body.  This overload could be what causes the feelings of nausea and lack of appetite.  Another theory is that it is caused by low blood sugar after fasting during the night.  A third theory states that it is due to hormonal changes and is a natural way to protect women from dangerous food, chemicals or microorganisms.

Regardless of the theory some tricks that have been proven to be helpful are to have a snack by your bedside to eat before you get out of bed (almonds, crackers) and eat a breakfast that is high in whole grains and protein once you are able. You should also avoid foods that stress the liver such as fatty foods, alcohol, Tylenol (it is very hard on your liver), citrus fruit (orange juice, oranges), iron supplements and milk.

Exhaustion – You are pregnant and now your body is engaged in creating a healthy environment.  This includes producing placenta, providing nutrients and reorganizing all of your organs to provide for you and your baby, no wonder you are tired!  Unfortunately there is no nutritional help for this one, just get the rest you need.

In the second trimester you can finally tell all of your friends, you are starting to look a little pregnant and (hopefully) the nausea has passed.  You still need to watch a few things.

Anemia – Your baby needs iron, so you may find that you don’t have the energy you need to get you through the day as your iron stores are sapped.  Increase your iron levels by taking an iron supplement and eating foods rich in iron (dark leafy greens, dried fruit, lean red meat).

Dizziness – If you are feeling dizzy have your doctor or midwife check your blood pressure.  If you have low blood pressure, which is common, add a little sea salt to your diet.  Do not eat salty foods like chips.

Leg cramps – If you wake up in the middle of the night with a severe pain in your leg, welcome to leg cramps.  Your baby needs calcium and low levels of calcium can cause your muscles to cramp.    Take a Calcium-Magnesium supplement at dinner time to have a restful cramp-free sleep.

Increased allergies – This is a time of hyper immunity as your body protects your growing baby, so your allergies may seem worse than ever.  Avoid any food allergies, as they will exacerbate any environmental allergies.

Bleeding Gums & Nosebleed – High levels of reproductive hormones increase blood flow to the mucus membranes of the mouth.  Floss, floss, floss!

Unfortunately the common concerns in the third trimester of pregnancy are due to a big baby in a small abdomen.  As organs shift your formerly efficient body is working as quickly as you can run – which is not too quick!

Back aches – Get some exercise, prop yourself up with pillows when you sleep and get a massage or two.

Bladder infections – A small and cramped urinary tract can result in bladder infections.  Drinking pure cranberry juice daily and taking a probiotic will help keep these at bay.

Swollen Feet & Hands – This is due to a slower metabolism and perhaps too much salt in your diet.  If you are craving salty food, avoid reaching for the salt shaker or a bag of chips.  You are getting the sodium you need from your diet.  Keep your feet up and rest.

Hemorrhoids & Varicose Veins – A slow digestive system and a lack of fiber can results in constipation and cause hemorrhoids and varicose veins.  Eat whole grains and plenty of raw fruit and vegetables to get things moving a little faster.

Lack of Appetite and Heartburn – As the baby grows there is less room for food.  Eat a small snack every 2 to 3 hours.  Chew thoroughly, do not drink with meals and do not lie down after eating.

Shortness of breath – You are carrying a heavy load and have less lung capacity, so it is not surprising that you are feeling out of shape!  Take your time and ask for help.

High Blood Pressure – while you may have had low blood pressure earlier, you may have high blood pressure as the end of your pregnancy approaches.  Avoid salt and get your rest.

Thank you, Laurie, for bringing these informative posts to the Green Baby Guide!


  1. Thank you for the great information. That one tip should save me a lot of frustration trying to lower my blood pressure.

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