Eating in the second trimester

For many women the second trimester is welcomed as often this is when they start to feel better.  When I was pregnant with Maisie it was if a light was switched on the day I reached the second trimester as that standard morning sickness was gone. And I was lucky enough that again that has happened with pregnancy number 2.  HOWEVER, I have been quickly reminded of some of the glorious second trimester traits (if you have ever woken up I’m the middle of the night to leg cramps you will understand me here!) along with a few other things I didn’t get to experience the first time around.

I was very happy to have some of my appetite back, and it was defiantly nice to enjoy eating fresh fruit and vegetables again (and now I can’t get enough!).  While eating for two is now a little more true the additional requirements are around 340 calories each day to support the growth of baby (1).  Which equates to a small meal or snack such as a slice of toast with avocado or some cheese and crackers.

The key nutrients remain much the same from the first trimester to the second trimester.  Here are the nutrients that I have been focusing on.

Iron:  As the baby is rapidly growing its needs for iron is increasing which means my needs have increased from pre-pregnancy too (2). It’s important that if you are feeling tired that you get your iron levels checked for deficiencies. I find it hard at the moment to eat say a ‘normal’ size steak at one time, so I try and get my iron from both regularly eating smaller quantities of meat and also from eating non-haem or plant-based sources too.

Calcium: While my requirement’s for calcium haven’t changed this trimester as during pregnancy the body becomes better at absorbing calcium (3).  I’m personally not the biggest fan of drinking cow’s milk but I love all other dairy. So I always make a conscious effort to ensure I’m getting enough calcium through a variety of foods such as dairy, canned sardines and salmon, seeds, green leafy vegetables, almonds, beans and lentils.

Omega 3:  I haven’t been eating as much fish as I would normally eat.  Fatty fish especially is important for the omega 3 fatty acids during pregnany as it has been shown to support brain development, improving cognitive development and increased fine motor skills of children.  There has also been some recent evidence to suggest that a high intake of omega 3 fats are being linked to a reduced risk of developing allergies.

Magnesium: Magnesium (Mg) is one of the essential minerals needed by humans in substantial large amounts and plays a role in regulating body temperature, synthesis of nucleic acids, and proteins as well as maintaining electrical potentials in nerves and muscle membranes (aghhhh nasty leg cramps!) (4).  And it can be found in dairy products, breads and cereals, legumes, vegetables, and meats.



  1. Ministry of Health. Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women: A background paper.
  2. Bothwell TH (2000) Iron requirements in pregnancy and strategies to meet them. American Journal Clinical Nutrition. 72:257S-264S
  3. National Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for Calcium and vitamin D. New York, National Academies Press, 2011
  4. Zarean E and Tarjan A.  Effect of Magnesium Supplement on Pregnancy Outcomes: A randomised Control Trial (2017) Adv Biomed Res. 6:109