What You Should Eat During the First Trimester

Nutritional needs for a healthy start to your pregnancy

What You Should Eat During the First Trimester

We’re all familiar with the concept of “eating for two,” and if you’re like me, you may have been looking forward to eating donuts and ice cream without the guilt. But before you find yourself elbow deep in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, let’s talk about what your body needs and when, in order to have a healthy and happy pregnancy. Assuming you can swallow anything more than saltines and water, what you eat during the first trimester is particularly crucial.

Indeed, during the early months of pregnancy, your little one’s brain and spinal cord begin to develop, as do major organs such as the heart. So you need to provide him or her with the right nutrients -- and not just through prenatal vitamins. You need a healthy, well-balanced diet too. So what are the most important nutrients you should be getting at this stage?

Here’s the lowdown on what you should eat during the first trimester.

1. Try to eat your nutrients. If you are one of the lucky 50 percent of women who experience the dreaded morning sickness, your prenatal vitamin will carry you over until you can stomach something other than white rice. But if you’re feeling good, do your best to eat a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates (such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains). You will feel your best and minimize unpleasant symptoms such as swelling, constipations and fatigue, giving you and your little blueberry a solid foundation for a healthy and happy pregnancy.

2. Smaller, more frequent meals. Your body doesn’t require any additional calories at this stage, so “eating for two” actually means eating half as much and twice as often, and being twice as careful about what you put in your mouth. Focus on eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, which will also help minimize nausea and fatigue, and eat nutrient dense foods to fuel up on vitamins and minerals. Finally, avoid the foods that have been deemed unsafe during pregnancy such as raw meat and fish, deli meat and unpasteurized cheese.

3. Folate. Also known as folic acid, folate is an important B vitamin that supports the placenta and helps prevent neural tube defects in baby. Pregnant women are advised to take in an additional 400mcg for a daily total of around 800mcg. For reference, two cups of cooked spinach or 20 spears of asparagus will get you that additional 400mcg. In other words, the greener your plate, the better.

4. DHA. You should eat healthy fats every day to support brain and neurological development for baby. Look specifically for omega-3, and more specifically DHA, which is a type of omega-3 that is most readily absorbed by the body. Salmon, sardines, enriched eggs and flaxseed oil are the best sources, and it’s advised that pregnant women consume an extra 600mg for a daily total of around 1,000mg. A 6oz piece of salmon has around 1400mg of omega-3 DHA, so having one or two servings per week gets you off to a great start.

5. Iron. Iron has many benefits throughout pregnancy, but is most important for your health in the first trimester. Most women start their pregnancy iron-deficient, which is linked to a poor immune system in mom and preterm delivery and low birth weight for baby. Since your blood volume will double over the course of your pregnancy, it’s recommended that you increase your iron intake by 12mg for a total of 27-30mg daily.

6. Zinc. Though we don’t talk about it very much, zinc is an essential mineral for cell division and growth and for the production of DNA. You need only about 11mg daily, and your prenatal vitamin should have you covered, but speak to your doctor if you aren’t sure you’re getting enough.

7. Vitamins A and D. Vitamin A is most commonly found in milk and eggs, as well as orange, green and yellow fruits and vegetables. It helps develop major organs and bodily systems during the embryonic stage. Vitamin D helps with the development of strong bones, as well as healthy cell division and immune function in baby. Both are fat-soluble vitamins, which means the body stores what it doesn’t use so it can pull from reserves when necessary. If mom isn’t getting enough, the body will pull from her reserves to make sure the baby is getting what he needs.

Mom of a baby boy, Carolyn Tallents is a prenatal and postnatal health coach, focusing on nutritional needs for mom and baby, as well as safe and effective exercise from trying to conceive through the postpartum period. Check her website here.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

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