The second trimester is considered to be the easiest phase of pregnancy as the discomforts from the first trimester have passed, and those of the final trimester are still at bay. However, the second trimester is equally crucial for the baby’s healthy development, making it very important to eat right in a manner that ensures that both you and the baby receive adequate nutrition.

What to eat during the second trimester

Intake of the following nutrients is very important during the second trimester:

Iron

Iron helps the developing baby receive an adequate supply of oxygen. Lack of iron can also cause anaemia to the mother, which in turn results in increased risk for premature birth and postpartum depression.

Found in: Dark leafy greens, meat, lentils and beans, seafood, poultry.

Protein

Protein is essential for the healthy development of the baby’s brain and the growth of its other tissues. It also helps the mother’s uterus and breasts grow. Protein-rich food should be consumed at least twice a day.

Found in: lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, lentils

Calcium

The second trimester is the period when the baby’s teeth and bones form, making adequate calcium intake is vital. Calcium is also essential for the smooth functioning of the nervous and circulatory systems and for proper muscle development. 1000 mg is the recommended daily intake of calcium for pregnant women.

Found in: Dairy products (milk, yoghurt, cheese), greens, eggs

Folate

Folate is an essential nutrient during the second trimester since it helps prevent neutral tube defects. Research also suggests that it may significantly reduce the risk of the baby developing congenital heart defects.

Found in: beans, fruits, leafy green vegetables and prenatal vitamins

Vitamin D

Like calcium, vitamin D plays an important role in the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. 

Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D.  While it is not present in many natural foods, vitamin D can be found in fortified foods such as milk and cereals. Vitamin D supplements are also available in the market.

Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids aid the healthy development of the baby’s heart, the brain, the central nervous system and the immune system. It may also help prevent premature delivery, preeclampsia and postpartum depression.

Found in: Found in fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds and fortified foods.

Fluids

Maintaining an adequate intake of fluids is essential as dehydration during pregnancy can lead to complications. Make sure to drink at least 8-12 glasses of water daily.

What not to consume

The consumption of the following items should be avoided at this stage:

  • raw meat
  • raw fish
  • raw eggs
  • ready-to-eat meats and seafood
  • unpasteurized dairy products
  • fish with high levels of mercury, including swordfish, shark, and king mackerel
  • artificial sweeteners
  • alcohol
  • caffeine (may be consumed in moderation)

Takeaway

The second trimester is the period when most of the baby’s organs develop. Hence, make sure to eat right during this crucial phase. Work with your doctor to devise a diet plan that keeps you both nourished and energized.