Diet in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy: Keys and Recommendations

Optimizing your diet in the second trimester of pregnancy is crucial for the fetus to develop properly. Learn more in the following article.
Diet in the Second Trimester of Pregnancy: Keys and Recommendations

Last update: 01 July, 2022

A woman’s diet in the second trimester of pregnancy may be slightly modified to meet the increased energy and nutrient demands. From this moment on, the fetus has a considerable size, so it will be necessary to increase the supply of certain elements in order to maintain its vital functions and its development in optimal conditions.

Before starting, it’s important to highlight that in case of any doubt, it’s best to consult a specialist. The same applies to any unusual symptom. Keep in mind that in the second trimester, vomiting and nausea should be less frequent, but heartburn and reflux may begin to appear.

Take note of the following recommendations to enjoy the best stage of pregnancy. Let’s start!

Calorie intake in the second trimester of pregnancy

A pregnant woman preparing fruits and vegetables.
In the second trimester, nausea and discomfort usually disappear, so you recover your appetite and improve your rest. Take the opportunity to optimize your diet, but regulate snacking to avoid excesses.

From the second trimester of pregnancy, energy needs increase considerably. The fetus is already larger and has greater requirements than before.

Therefore, it’s advisable to consider a surplus of about 300 calories to avoid problems in the baby’s development. This amount shouldn’t be overestimated, as it means, for example, the introduction of one or two Greek yogurts into the diet.

However, it’s important for the caloric increase to be given by a contribution of proteins or fats instead of carbohydrates. Excessive consumption of the latter could lead to the development of gestational diabetes, as evidenced by research published in the journal Nutrients. The risk is greater when it comes to simple sugars, but it’s also advisable to moderate the intake of complex sugars, although these should be included in the diet on a regular basis.

Ensure the intake of essential nutrients in your diet during the second trimester of pregnancy

The intake of folic acid and iron is still necessary in the second trimester of pregnancy and it’s even likely that many future mothers will continue with pharmacological supplements. Although they’re more important during the first 3 months, it’s essential to avoid deficiencies of these nutrients at this stage.

In fact, the requirements of other elements, such as vitamin D, may also increase. To meet these requirements, it’s best to ensure regular exposure to sunlight and physical activity. Deficits of this nutrient can affect the state of health, as reflected in a study published in the journal Reviews in Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders.

Also, from the second trimester of pregnancy onward, other nutrients become essential, such as omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds contribute to the brain development of the fetus and improve the mother’s cardiovascular health, due to their powerful anti-inflammatory effect.

With the inclusion of bluefish in the diet a couple of times a week, the requirements of these lipids should be satisfied. However, it’s always advisable to prefer small-sized fish. Larger fish can contain heavy metals, such as mercury, which could have a negative impact on the health of the developing baby. To avoid risks, it’s also best to moderate the intake of canned fish.

A pregnant woman preparing salmon.
Oily fish are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but you should avoid large fish because of the risk of mercury and other heavy metals poisoning.

It’s important to improve your diet in the second trimester of pregnancy

As you’ve seen, in the second trimester of pregnancy, a series of dietary changes must be implemented to achieve good growth and development of the fetus.

It’s still important to pay attention to food hygiene, as food poisoning at this time could be dangerous. With this in mind, be sure to always cook animal foods well on the inside and wash hands before and after handling them.

Finally, you should note that maintaining a series of good lifestyle habits as a whole will help to maintain maternal-fetal health. For example, regular physical activity is recommended, within individual limitations and those related to the woman’s condition. Above all, muscle strength work should be prioritized. Likewise, maintaining a good night’s rest of at least 7 hours of quality sleep a day will be key.

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  • Mustad, V. A., Huynh, D., López-Pedrosa, J. M., Campoy, C., & Rueda, R. (2020). The Role of Dietary Carbohydrates in Gestational Diabetes. Nutrients12(2), 385. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020385
  • Holick M. F. (2017). The vitamin D deficiency pandemic: Approaches for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders18(2), 153–165. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-017-9424-1