What to eat while pregnant

What To Eat In The 1st Trimester Of Pregnancy

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I am sure like me you were all quite aware of the expectations that when you’re pregnant you should have more fruits and vegetables, less fatty foods and you MUST skip the seafood (NOOO!), especially during the 1st trimester of pregnancy.

I didn’t quite understand how to balance this pregnancy diet with the “cravings”. If you are all aware of that term. That means when mommy dearest wanted a hamburger, she WANTS a hamburger and not a stick of carrot (poor hubby)!

I know we all have funny stories for a lifetime!

So here I am ready to get you the information you need to set the record straight and have your hamburger if you would like more protein without the stigma attached.

Do you have any concerns about your pregnancy journey that I can help you with? Leave the comments below, and I would be happy to help you.

“Variety of foods during pregancy is the key to ensuring balance in nutrition in the 1st Trimester of pregnancy.”

Babies’ major organs are formed during the first few weeks of pregnancy in the first trimester. This crucial stage is the time of early fetal development. Rapid growth also occurs here as well.

If you think about it, the baby would need more nutrients from the mom to help in this stage of development.

Therefore, iron, calcium, and folic acid are key nutrients needed at this stage to foster good fetal growth and development. Let’s go through each group to give you an idea of what the nutrients are, and their function in your body. I will then give you examples of foods that are rich in iron, calcium, and folic acid.

1. Iron

Your body during pregnancy supplies your baby with blood and oxygen needed. Iron is used to make hemoglobulin found in red blood cells that carry this oxygen to your baby. Therefore because of this increased demand for iron, your diet requires about twice the amount of iron during pregnancy as opposed to before pregnancy.

How much do you need?

You need at minimum 27mg (source: mayoclinic) of iron twice daily. Getting this additional iron can come from a variety of foods and also supplements that can facilitate this increased need. There are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy products that offer the iron needed for pregnancy.

Foods rich in iron

Poultry, fish, lean red meat are excellent sources of iron. Others include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, and dried fruit.


  • 1 cup boiled spinach (6.5 milligrams),
  • 3 ounces prime beef tenderloin (2.5 milligrams). Yes, you can have your steak!

2. Calcium

Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. It is also essential for your circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems to function normally. Not getting enough calcium means that your body will absorb the calcium it needs directly from your bones. You don’t want that to happen so get the recommended daily amount needed for your growing baby.

How much Do You Need?

The recommended daily allowance for calcium is 1000 (mg) per day. Pregnant teenagers may require1300 (mg) daily (source: mayo clinic).

Foods Rich In Calcium

Dairy products provide the highest amount of Calcium. Other sources include fruit juices and fortified breakfast cereals.


  • 8 ounces plain, low-fat Yogurt (415 milligrams)
  • 3 ounces canned pink salmon with bones (180 milligrams). Yes, even Salmon has Calcium!

3. Folate and Folic acid

Folate, a B vitamin helps to prevent neural tube defects, any serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord during pregnancy (FYI: the synthetic form of folate is called folic acid).

How much Do you need?

The recommended daily allowance for folic acid is 400 – 800 micrograms (mcg) per day before conception and the first two to three months of pregnancy. During the remaining time in pregnancy, it is recommended to have 600 mcg daily. (source: mayo clinic).

Foods Rich in Folic Acid

These include fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, dried beans and peas, citrus fruits, etc.


  • 1 small orange (30 micrograms)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup 100 percent-fortified ready to eat cereal (400 micrograms). Please make note of fortified, and not the oh so tempting sugary ones!

4. Protein

Protein in your diet is necessary for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters.

How much do you need?

The recommended daily allowance for folic acid is 71g per day (source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).

Foods rich in Protein

These include animal-based foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Others are dried beans and peas, tofu, dairy products, and peanut butter.


  • 1/2 boneless, skinless cooked chicken breast (29 grams)
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg (6 grams).

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium by your body. Vitamin D helps to build your baby’s bones and teeth. Folate, a B vitamin helps to prevent neural tube defects, any serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord during pregnancy (FYI: the synthetic form of folate is called folic acid).

How much do you need?

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 international units (IUs). (source: mayo clinic).

Foods rich in vitamin d

These include fortified milk or orange juice, fish liver oils, and fatty fish e.g. salmon. FYI: 15 minutes in the sun (Yes beach day can soak up all the sun you need).


  • 1 cup low-fat fortified milk (8 grams)
  • 6 ounces of orange juice fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D (375 milligrams). This will cover both your calcium and vitamin D intake required!

Even though food is by far the best way to get the nutrition you need during pregnancy, some moms may find it difficult to meet the necessary supply needed. Doctors may, therefore, recommend prenatal vitamins. Do remember, however, It is not an excuse for bad eating habits! You should still maintain a good diet and eat well.

Now that you have a general idea of the nutrients needed in the first trimester, the fun part begins with planning your meals to ensure that you maximize the nutrients you need for your growing baby.


What can you do to get started right away with meal planning?

I have available on my website different planners that you can use to help plan for meals, along with budgeting for the cost as well. For meal preparation, you can get my (Mommy Inspired Meal Planner printable) to start planning your daily or monthly meals as you see fit.

Another great idea is to also get Post-it Notes, in different colors so that you can personalize them to specific activities, for instance, blue for work/business related, red for grocery/shopping, etc. Have a few stacks around as well so that you can have reminders readily available to get your day going.

Overall, having balanced nutrition during the 1st trimester is key in ensuring a good start in your pregnancy journey. DO enjoy the time it takes to plan the meals and DO NOT get overwhelmed in the process. Remember that the key is VARIETY! The more variety you eat, the greater the chance of meeting all your nutritional needs for your growing baby.

I do hope that these tips and tricks will help you to prepare healthy meals especially during the 1st trimester of pregnancy. Hope you found it helpful. If you do need additional help with what foods to avoid, please read my blog on 7 foods To Avoid During Pregnancy.

Source: MAYO CLINIC (Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy)

Did you find the strategies listed in this article helpful? What were some of your favorite tips? How have they worked for you? Leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.

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I am Donae! A wife and a mom of 2 kids, ALL boys! I would love to share with you my experience with motherhood. Let my life Inspire, Encourage and Motivate you on your journey through motherhood.

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