Second Trimester Nutrition
Generally throughout the three trimesters, many nutrition recommendations remain the same – for instance ensuring that a woman is getting enough protein in her diet (you’re building a baby after all!), and focusing on good sources of carbohydrates and fats. Nevertheless, because certain conditions are more common in the second trimester, here are the nutrients that are especially important during weeks 13-28!
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body as it’s mainly found in our bones and teeth. In the second trimester fetal skeletal growth begins, and it’s thought that the fetus takes calcium from the mother’s muscle stores during this time. As the stores deplete, mothers may begin to experience leg cramps, often occurring at night. Calcium has also been shown to be efficacious in reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is characterized as gestational hypertension with proteinuria (abnormal quantities of protein found in urine) and hyper-reflexia (overactive reflexes). Some physical symptoms that are seen with pre-eclampsia are headaches, blurred vision, and right upper quadrant pain.
Women are often deficient in iron because of menstruation. Although menstruation is paused during pregnancy, iron is required for hemoglobin, a protein molecule needed for oxygen transport between mom and baby. Because a mother’s blood volume begins to increase in the second trimester, more hemoglobin is needed to transport oxygen – thus increasing the need for iron. For women who don’t have an adequate store of iron, they may experience iron-deficiency anemia. A few signs of iron deficiency anemia are skin pallor, fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath; and can be confirmed with a blood test. When pregnant moms already have a low iron status, they are unable to deliver the required amount of iron to the fetus, and this may result in pre-term delivery, low birth weight and potential developmental delays.
Magnesium is a mineral mostly found in bone and soft tissues. It’s required for over 300 chemical reactions in the body, including the reaction for energy production! It’s involved in activity of the brain cells, electrical properties of cell membranes, and cardiac cell function. It also has effects on dilating blood vessels and antispasmodic effects on muscles. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include insomnia, muscle cramps or twitches, headaches and heart palpitations. In pregnancy, magnesium is important for hypertension, preventing pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and leg cramps.
Lately, there’s been a lot of research about Vitamin D and pregnancy! Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, mostly obtained from sunlight hitting our bare skin (although can also be found from animal sources). Vitamin D deficiency has different effects on children and adults, but on fetuses it can affect birth weight, pre-term delivery, pre-eclampsia risk, and higher risk of asthma and eczema. More importantly, Vitamin D is associated with immune status, and may help prevent infections from occurring.
If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned conditions and are looking for a holistic approach, visit with a Naturopathic Doctor! NDs will assess your diet to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily intake of each of these nutrients and make diet recommendations if need be!
Before You Go