Nutrition for healthy Pregnancy: First Trimester

09 Jan 2017

Pregnancy lasts for about 40 weeks which is Pided into 3 trimesters, each trimester is marked by specific fetal growth and physical developments. First trimester is marked from the first day of our last period and this trimester lasts until the end of week 12. First trimester of pregnancy plays a very crucial for overall baby's growth and development. Growth and development of fetus over this period, week 1 to week 12, is summarized below: 

1st month: 

  • Placenta develops which is helps transfer the nutrients to the baby.
  • Nervous system and heart begins to form.
  • Development of arms and leg.
  • By end of 1st-month baby is now an embryo and around 1/2 inch long.

 2nd month: 

  • Major organs begun to form.
  • Heart of baby starts beating.
  • Arms and legs grow longer and formation of fingers and toes begins. 
  • Digestive tract and sensory organs begin to develop. 
  • Embryo now begins to move in mother's womb and is around 1 inch by now. 

 3rd Month:

  • The nerves and muscles co-ordination begins to work together. 
  • Reproductive organs also start developing.
  • Eyelids close to protect the developing eyes.
  • Fingernails and toenails begin to develop and the external ears are formed. 
  • Head growth has slowed and baby is around 3 inches long, and weighs almost an ounce.



A woman's body undergoes many major changes during the first trimester. Release of hormones which affect every organ in the body. These changes result in variety of symptoms like: 

1) Breast tenderness:  This is triggered by hormonal changes and is also one of the earliest signs of pregnancy. Hormones cause breast to retain fluids making them heavy and sore. 

 2) Fatigue: As our body works harder to support and nurture the growing foetus and our heart pumps faster as it needs to deliver the extra oxygen to the uterus which too makes us feel fatigued. 

 3) Frequent urination: The growing uterus puts pressure on bladder thus there is an extra flow of blood to the kidneys also causes them to produce more urine. 

 4) Food aversions and Morning Sickness (nausea): Nausea may be due to the nervous disturbances and a result of hormonal changes in the body. Hormone progesterone slows down our digestive process which sometimes results in constipation or indigestion. Since our stomach doesn't empty as quickly as it normally does which makes us feel purge or causes nausea. 

5) Heat burn: This is an effect of pressure of the enlarged uterus on the stomach which in combination with the relaxation of the esophageal sphincter results in occasional regurgitation of the stomach contents. 

6) Constipation: The muscle contractions that normally help move food through intestines slows down due to high levels of the hormone progesterone. 

7) Mood Swings: This can be caused due to physical stress, fatigue, changes in metabolism and because of the significant changes in hormone levels which can affect our brain chemicals which regulate mood. 

8) Weight Gain: Weight gain of 900 gms to 1800 gms is normal during first trimester as a result of the growing fetus and water retention in the body which is quite common during first trimester. 


Pregnancy week by week diet plan may offer some relief and provide the essential nourishment for the development of the baby.



 A balanced diet will promote optimal growth and development of the foetus. Thus, nutrition plays a vital role in first trimester as this has a great impact on both mother and her baby. Inclusion of specific nutrients during this trimester will support normal growth of the baby. Nutritious pregnancy diet should enclose food with greatest source of protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B12.




During pregnancy, the protein you eat helps your baby grow normally and contributes to other important areas of their development. Mother's need for protein increases during pregnancy to support the various changes in her own body and to meet the additional requirements laid down by the growing foetus. Protein requirements for pregnant women can range from as little as 60 grams to as much as 75 grams per day, depending on how much you weigh. 

Food sources of protein: Eggs, fish dairy foods - [milk, paneer, curds, yogurts] beans, pulses and nuts.



Mother's blood supply increases to support the growing baby. Thus, she needs extra iron during this time to prevent anemia. As the mother's blood supply increases, her daily iron needs nearly double. The average requirement for iron in pregnancy is 22mg/day. 

Food sources of iron: Leafy vegetables, legumes, beans, chicken, eggs, iron fortifies cereals.



 It is important to have folate in early stages of pregnancy as baby's brain and spinal cord are developing rapidly. Also folic acid is vital for the formation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis and for the prevention of neural tube defects in the developing foetus during early pregnancy. 

Food sources of folic acid: Green leafy vegetables (such as green beans, green peas, spinach and cabbage). Citrus fruits, brussels, sprouts, beans, peas, lentils, broccoli and asparagus.