Top Nutrients You Need in Pregnancy by Trimester

salad-1069916_640.jpgMeet today's author and nutrition expert, Petra Colindres, Family Dietitian, Lactation Consultant and owner of Nutrition by Petra in Oklahoma City. Today, Petra hones in on the most important nutrients needed by trimester. Take a look and consider revising your grocery list! Also, be sure to join us next week on the Lamaze Facebook page for a Q&A with Petra on nutrition during pregnancy.


Hello parents-to-be! What an exciting time for you all. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, whether you’ve just found out or have been pregnant for a while now, we’re all part of a special motherhood tribe. And, as we can all relate too, pregnancy is an experience -- sometimes good, sometimes bad. However, a huge factor in making sure that you have a happy pregnancy and a healthy birthing experience is decided by what you eat. Unfortunately, diet during pregnancy is not talked about too much when a mother finds out she’s expecting. This is a shame, since not only are foods more exciting now than they ever were with those crazy food cravings, but you’re also literally creating life out of what you eat. Also, often some serious high risk birthing outcomes can be avoided by just eating well.


Pregnancy is one of the most important times to start looking at your diet and assessing if it’s the best for you and your child. Not only will it help create a healthy baby but it’s also a great time to get the whole family on board. Create your own fit family and give your child what s/he needs by bringing home lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins from the grocery store. But, what type of nutrients do you need during pregnancy? And when? Here’s a small breakdown of the top nutrients your growing body needs by trimester.

First Trimester Foods & Nutrients  

The most important nutrient you can give your body during the first trimester is folate. Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that is already present in many foods that we eat. However, during pregnancy, you need 50% more folate than normal. Why? Because folate is involved in making DNA and helps create new cells. Folate also helps prevent against many birth defects and preterm birth. Where can you get folate? Foods that have folate include fruits and vegetables such as oranges, asparagus, and dark leafy greens; nuts and beans; whole grains and fortified cereals. However, it also recommended during pregnancy that you also take a prenatal vitamin with at least 600 micrograms of folic acid daily.

Second Trimester Foods & Nutrients

Your baby is really growing during the second trimester, which is usually the beginning of all those crazy cravings! The top nutrient that you should be making sure to include in your diet is calcium. Right now your baby is beginning to develop their skeletal system and your child needs calcium to make strong bones, grow teeth, hair, nails, and more. Unfortunately, American females typically do not get enough calcium in their diet. If baby can’t get it from your food sources, they have to get it from Mommy herself which is not ideal. Enough calcium can also lower blood pressure and prevent against preeclampsia. During pregnancy, a Mom will need about 1000 mg/day. Foods that have calcium in them include dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese), leafy greens (collard greens, kale, spinach), broccoli, edamame, oranges, salmon, tofu and almonds.

Third Trimester Foods & Nutrients

Your baby is almost here! There are many exciting things going on with your body and your baby during this time and is also a critical growth period. Iron is one of the most important nutrients during the third trimester since right now your child is laying down all the iron stores to sustain him/her through the first 6 months of life. Right now your body will need all the iron it can get! Anemia is very common during this time. Your prenatal vitamin you’re taking has the necessary iron needs for pregnancy, about 27 milligrams. However, it is also recommended that you also aim to eat 3 additional iron sources a day (at least 19 milligrams), preferably with Vitamin C. Why? Because your body absorbs food-iron better than pill-iron. Food is always the best! Iron Food sources include spinach, all animal protein in general but especially red meat sources (beef, lamb), kidney beans, red quinoa, sunflower seeds, fortified whole grains & cereals, dark chocolate, and tofu.


There you go parents! I hope you found this educational and helpful. I hope you'll join me next week on the Lamaze Facebook page for a Q&A session on all of your pregnancy nutrition questions. And, of course, if you ever need any additional support or have any questions please reach out to me at Petra Colindreson on Facebook or via email at


pet.jpgPetra Colindres is a Family Dietitian and Lactation Consultant with a passion for infant nutrition and prenatal education, valuing the importance of the first thousand days of an infant’s life (from conception to 2 years) to be the standard for future successful health outcomes. Petra owns Nutrition by Petra, a pregnancy and early childhood nutrition consultation practice that provides at-home lactation assistance and pediatric nutrition support. Petra’s hobbies are running/working out, teaching cooking classes around the state, and playing with her first child Bodie. Follow Petra on Twitter @PetraNutrition, on Facebook or on instagram @nutritionbypetra to see some of her favorite baby meals. You can also email her at

To leave a comment, click on the Comment icon on the left side of the screen.  

Connect with Us
Facebook Twitter Pintrest Instagram YouTube

Download our App
Your Pregnancy Week by Week
Find A Lamaze Class
Lamaze Online Parent Education
Lamaze Video Library
Push for Your Baby

Recent Stories
How to Cope When You Hate Being Pregnant

Top Tips for a Low Tech Birth

Top 20 Baby Names: Most Popular vs. Most Rare