Pregnancy can be an exciting time for mums-to-be. It can also be full of conflicting information, confusion about what to eat and a mixed bag of challenging health symptoms – hello exhaustion, heartburn, leg cramps, morning sickness! It’s no secret that pregnant mamas often hang out for the first trimester to be over so they can actually start to enjoy pregnancy, says Amanda Haberecht, naturopath at Darling Street Health Centre and Mygen Health.
“The second trimester is often a very welcome stage of pregnancy for women, where morning sickness hopefully lifts and you enjoy an increase in energy and a sense of wellbeing,” she says.
Want to feel your best and do the best for your growing baby? Here’s our advice for a happy, healthy second and third trimester…
1) Still sick? Try tea. If you’re one of the unlucky mums-to-be whose morning sickness lingers past week 12, herbal teas may offer relief. “Ginger, peppermint or dandelion root can be helpful,” says Haberecht. “Eating smaller but more regular meals, and choosing easily digested foods such as stock-based soups, light stir-fries and fruit smoothies can also be better choices if you’re feeling nauseous. Acupuncture travel bands available from the chemist can also help, as can acupuncture itself. Rest and sleep is also vital as there’s a link between fatigue and prolonged morning sickness.
2) Eat with your bubba in mind. During the second and third trimester your baby is growing into a little person and a diet high in macronutrients is essential to help this along, says Haberecht, who recommends protein at every meal, and foods that deliver calcium and magnesium – so a diet of meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, broccoli, leafy greens, dairy foods, hummus and tahini is a good start. “Plus, eating well doesn’t have to mean gourmet meals – fish and salad, a chicken stir-fry, scrambled eggs or an omelette with mushrooms, tomato and avocado are all great options,” she adds. “For snacks, try smoothies, veggies with hummus or nut butters or miso soup.”
3) Don’t forget supplements. Studies show around half of all pregnancies are unplanned, which is why it’s often recommended that women of child-bearing age bump up their folate intake. You need 500mg of folate, a B-group vitamin, preferably while you’re trying to conceive and throughout the first trimester as it can prevent 7 out of 10 cases of neural tube defects. However, what about after that? “A good pregnancy supplement during the second and third trimester is essential to support a mum-to-be and her growing baby,” says Haberecht. “It’s a fact that we don’t always make the right food choices in pregnancy or in life! So aiming for the 80/20 rule – eating well 80 percent of the time – is a good goal to shoot for. Furthermore, a pregnancy supplement that includes iron, CoQ10, calcium folinate and choline can just give you a bit of extra nutritional support you need – and that extra peace of mind that you’re helping your growing baby out as well!”
4) Make sure you move a little. Aches and pains, a growing bump… we get it. Some days it all feels too hard to get off the couch, right? But if you’re up to it and your morning sickness has lifted, a gentle walk or swim will always lift your spirits and leave you feeling better, says Haberecht. “We actually need to remember that pregnancy is a state of wellness and exercise is crucial to that,” she adds. “However, you do need to eat before exercise, even if it’s just something light like fruit or nuts to ensure your blood sugar levels don’t plummet. And if you had any complications in the first trimester make sure you also seek the advice of a personal trainer, yoga or pilates instructor experienced in pregnancy before you start a workout regime.”
5) Don’t ignore the scales. You might be freaking out at your ever-growing waistline, especially if you were the type of person to monitor your weight carefully prior to pregnancy. That’s normal, but it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on how much you’re gaining, or not gaining. Experts say you ideally want to gain between 11-15kg, but that’s just a guide, says Haberecht. “Many women who enter pregnancy underweight may find they gain more weight than expected earlier, which can be helpful to support hormonal reserves,” she explains. “However, if you’re heavier in the early stages of pregnancy, often you’ll only have a very modest weight gain if you’re choosing clean, healthy foods. If you’re putting on more weight than expected or have a poor appetite, get your thyroid checked along with your iodine and Vitamin D levels.”
6) Take me-time where you can. While it may be harder if you have other kids to consider, if this is your first baby embrace it. Rest and relax when you can, says Haberecht. “Your emotional state is hugely important to having a healthy pregnancy and birth and getting into the habit of having some relaxation rituals can go a long way towards alleviating common pregnancy symptoms, while also preparing you for a healthy labour and birth,” she explains. “What do you look forward to? Pilates? Yoga? Meditation? A walk, a lie in the sun, a cup of tea in bed? These aren’t luxuries when you’re pregnant, but necessities – and will help you bond with your unborn baby. Having a regular routine around relaxation at night can also help preface a better night’s sleep – hard to come by the bigger you get! So think switching off your devices, taking a bath with Epsom salts, sipping herbal tea, taking a calcium and magnesium supplement and doing a meditation – it can all aid in a better night’s sleep.”
What are your top tips for nurturing yourself in pregnancy?