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Creating Weekly Pregnancy Menu

Eating the right food and getting proper nutrition is essential when you're pregnant. Remember, you're eating for two this time, so it's important you're mindful of everything that goes into your system. You're making all the decisions for the baby, so make sure they're the right ones. But eating healthy doesn't need to be boring. Knowing how to replace food that's off-limits with smart, not to mention tasty, choices can mean the difference between a dull drab meal and something you and your child will both benefit from, and enjoy to boot. To help you plan your meals, here are some foods you need to watch out for, and their safer replacements.


What you want: Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, blue cheese, feta, and goat cheese

Why you should pass: Unpasteurized cheese could potentially contain listeria, a bacteria that causes Listeriosis, a life-threatening disease. Pregnant mothers, the elderly, and AIDS patients are most at risk for Listeria infection.

What you should have instead: Soft cheeses like Havarti, Port Salut, ricotta salata, and some types of Brie. Fresh cheeses like cream cheese, fresh mozzarella, cottage cheese, and mascarpone. Just make sure to check the label.


What you want: Cold cuts and deli meat

Why you should pass: If you're getting them from a deli where they've been sitting in their refrigerated cases, usually exposed, you're at risk of contracting harmful bacteria that might be lurking there.

What you should have instead: If they're packaged well in a vacuum-sealed container, it shouldn't be a problem. Just avoid getting it straight from the counter. If you really must, make sure they heat the meat properly to kill any bacteria before ingesting it.


What you want: High-mercury fish like tuna steaks, saltwater bass, king mackerel, swordfish, or grouper

Why you should pass: Mercury is extremely harmful to a developing baby's nervous system.

What you should have instead: Fish that contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, herring, and sardines. Research has found that fatty acids like DHA help develop a baby's brain. Other safe seafood are shrimp, haddock, catfish, tilapia, scallops, and cod. All cooked, of course.

What you want: Sushi

Why you should pass: Aside from the high mercury levels found in some sushi, you could also potentially contract a parasite, which is harder to treat when you're pregnant. The parasite could also take nutrients from your baby.

What you should have instead: Cooked sushi rolls made with eel, crab rolls, California rolls, or veggie rolls made with cucumber. Various tempuras (battered and fried) are also good and tasty alternatives.


What you want: Raw or runny eggs

Why you should pass: You could run the risk of contracting salmonella if you ingest raw yolk. Remember, your immune system is weaker when you're pregnant. If you get sick, the dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea can affect fetal growth and could lead to preterm labor.

What you should have instead: Have your eggs but make sure that they are cooked all the way through. Eggs are a good source of protein and choline.


What you want: Coffee, and more than one cup!

Why you should pass: Having two to three cups of a caffeinated drink daily can raise risk of miscarriage. It's also linked to preterm delivery and low birth weight.

What you should have instead: Decaf coffee or keep it under a cup a day.


What you want: Saccharine, a.k.a. artificial sweeteners like Equal or NutraSweet

Why you should pass: Aside from the fact that you probably shouldn't be taking anything labeled "artificial," saccharine can also cross placenta and be absorbed into the baby's bloodstream.

What you should have instead: Use honey, maple syrup, or agave to naturally sweeten your drinks or food.


What you want: Herbal teas like chamomile and hibiscus

Why you should pass: Some research has shown that certain herbal teas can cause problems like preterm labor so it's best to stay away from them. Other teas that may not be safe are comfrey and sassafras.

What you should have instead: Ginger tea, peppermint tea, and rooibos tea are all beneficial teas for pregnant women.


What you want: Alcohol

Why you should pass: Increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, and can result in fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), a lifelong condition that results in poor growth, abnormality, and damage to the central nervous system.

What you should have instead: "Virgin" or non-alcoholic versions of your favorite drinks. Ginger beer (contains no alcohol) is a delicious substitute as well.

Pregnancy Food Pyramid

Keep up with your rapidly changing body by eating right and getting the proper nutrition for you and your baby. Knowing which food to eat, how often, and how much of it you should be eating is extremely important. Remember, you're eating for two now. To help you ensure you're eating right, here's a handy guide: 



How much you should be eating: Nine to 11 servings a day.

What you should be eating: Cereal, rice, pasta, bread, oatmeal, and crackers. At least half of them should be whole grain.

Meal options: 

Breakfast: Steel-cut oats topped with fresh fruit, sweetened with honey

Lunch: Brown rice and grilled salmon steak with roasted veggies

Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with Bolognese sauce



How much you should be eating: Four to five servings a day.

What you should be eating: Dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, peas, carrots, corn, potatoes, spinach, bell pepper, asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Meal options:

Breakfast: Poached eggs with wilted spinach and pan-fried tomatoes, served with a toasted English muffin

Lunch: Grilled asparagus over brown rice and roasted chicken breast

Dinner: Mixed greens salad with raspberry vinaigrette and pan-fried pork chop



How much you should be eating: Three to four servings a day.

What you should be eating: Fresh (as much as possible), canned (rarely), dried fruit, or fruit juice. Apples, oranges, kiwis, papaya, strawberries, pineapple, and melons.

Meal options:

Breakfast: Fresh fruit with yogurt and granola

Lunch: Grilled pineapple, as a side dish

Dinner: Poached pears for dessert


Milk and Dairy 

How much you should be eating: Three servings a day.

What you should be eating: Yogurt, pasteurized cheese, and milk. Dairy is a great source of calcium for your baby's growing bones and teeth.

Meal options: 

Breakfast: Bananas and cottage cheese

Lunch: Spinach and ricotta ravioli with tomato cream sauce

Dinner: Mild chicken curry with yogurt sauce


Meat and Beans

How much you should be eating: Three servings a day.

What you should be eating: Lean meats, beans, and nuts.

Meal options:

Breakfast: Oven-baked bacon and scrambled eggs

Lunch: Lentil soup with vegetables and sausage

Dinner: Baked beans and grilled leg of lamb


Take note!

  • Good oils like olive oil, rapeseed, sunflower, and flaxseed are all heart-healthy oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids. Use them in place of lard or butter.
  • In the first trimester, eat foods rich in folate, vitamin B6, and iron. Folate helps develop your baby's nervous system, vitamin B6 aids in easing nausea, while iron-rich meals are beneficial as your blood volume increases.
  • During the second trimester, meals rich in calcium and vitamin D are needed to help with bone and teeth development. Omega 3 fatty acids for brain development should also be included in your meal plan.
  • For the third trimester, go for energy boosting food. Vitamin K is also important during this time as it assists the blood to clot, which is beneficial for giving birth. It’s also a good supplement to breast milk (since babies with Vitamin K deficiency can bruise or bleed spontaneously).

The Whole Nine Months: What's Happening in You

You’ve probably heard from other moms how being pregnant is like. There’s the late night cravings and aversion to certain foods, uncontrollable mood swings, and inevitable weight gain. These are just the tip of the iceberg; many more changes will affect you in the months to come. Check out our list of common developments happening inside you and learn the wonders of your body.

The First Term (Weeks 1 to 12)

  1. Tender, Sensitive, And Sore Breasts

Even before you miss your period and take a pregnancy test, your breasts may already feel extra heavy in the first weeks of pregnancy. Blame the hormones progesterone and estrogen for that. 

What Can Help:

Avoid underwire bras and use comfortable supportive bras. A cotton one may help with the sensitivity while you sleep.

  1. Exhaustion

One of the first signs of pregnancy is exhaustion. This usually wanes in the second term and makes a come back in the third.

What Can Help:

When you feel the need to close your eyes and lie down, give in to the urge. It’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest. 

  1. Morning Sickness

Hormonal changes also cause nausea and vomiting that can last the whole day, contrary to its moniker. For the majority, morning sickness winds down by the 14th week.

What Can Help:

Eat something like dry toast before getting out of bed. Go for several small meals during the day that are not fatty and easy to digest. It also helps to sip on liquids throughout the day and stay away from tastes and smells that upset your tummy. If you are vomiting too much and nausea seems extreme, call your doctor.

  1. Constipation

The hormones relax your bowel muscles and slow down digestion. The supplements iron and calcium contribute to constipation, too.

What Can Help:

Drink 10 glasses of water everyday, eight ounces (about 240 milliliters) at a time. Add fiber-rich foods in your diet and avoid caffeine.

  1. Frequent Urination

This is something you’ll deal with all throughout pregnancy, with frequency increasing as your tummy expands. In the first term, this is caused by blood flowing quickly through your kidneys, filling your bladder.

 What Can Help:

When you feel the need to pee, don’t hold it. You may contract a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), which, if untreated, is risky to your unborn child. You can also do Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles and avoid unexpected leaking.

  1. Dizziness

Your uterus pressing on your growing blood vessels and your increasing hunger can cause dizziness while pregnant.

What Can Help:

Slowly stand-up and avoid standing for long periods of time. It helps not to wear tight clothes and to lie on your left side. Contact your doctor immediately if abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding accompany your dizziness.

  1. Headache

Tension headache can happen in the first term, and women who experience headaches during menstruation are susceptible to this.

What Can Help:

Paracetamol is safe to ingest while pregnant. You can take a 500-milligram tablet every four hours. But if the headaches are frequent and weakening, ask your doctor if you can opt for other medications. Stay away from pain triggers such as monosodium glutamate, nitrates, cheese, certain types of nuts, chocolates, flickering lights, strong smells, and smoke. Warm or cool compress can relieve the pain, so do taking a shower, meditating, and exercising. Don’t skip meals and take naps when you have to.


The Second Term (Weeks 13 to 28)

  1. Back, Groin, And Abdomen Pain

Your growing baby and expanding tummy causes aches and pains in the back, groin, and abdomen. These are attributed to your shifting joints and the pressure from the baby’s movements and weight.

What Can Help:

Try not to stand for long periods of time. When you feel like resting, do so. You can apply heat to the aching body parts. You may also use maternity pillows to support the problematic areas.

  1. Heartburn

The relaxing digestive tract muscles make pregnant women more prone to heartburn.

What Can Help:

Eat several small meals slowly. Avoid fatty and spicy foods. It helps not to drink or eat a few hours before going to bed. If symptoms persist, ask your doctor what antacid you can take.

  1. Itching

You may feel itching on your palms, tummy, and feet. This is due to hormones as well as extra dry and stretching skin when pregnant.

What Can Help:

Resist wearing fabrics that can irritate your skin. Hot baths cause itching as well. Opt for a gentle soap when bathing and use a mild moisturizer after generously.

  1. Skin Darkening And Stretch Marks

Darkening of the nipples, belly area (linea nigra), underarms, upper lip, forehead, nose, and cheeks are common in pregnancy. Stretch marks also appear in areas where the skin expands. You can try different lotions and ointments that claim to lighten stretch marks. Don’t worry, darn skin and stretch marks usually fade after delivery.


The Third Term (Weeks 29 to 40) 

  1. Swollen Extremities (Edema)

Your body retains more water and collects fluid in your tissues during pregnancy. You may notice the swelling in your ankles, feet, fingers, and face.

What Can Help:

Salt retains water, so stay away from salty foods. Caffeine can also contribute to edema. Drink lots of fluids daily and elevate your feet when resting. Call your doctor if you have extreme swelling accompanied by sudden weight gain. These could be signs of preeclampsia.

  1. Leaking Breasts

You may feel your breasts growing more tender by this time and it may leak colostrum. Colostrum is a thick, yellowish fluid that’s very healthy for newborns.

What Can Help:

Wear a bra that you find comfortable and use pads to absorb leaks. Once you sense abnormal changes in your breasts, such as a lump or a discharge that’s not colostrum, contact your doctor. 

  1. Sleep Trouble

When the baby moves frequently and you need to get up for bathroom breaks, you may face some sleep interruptions that can keep you up at night.

What Can Help:

Try to take in the fluids you need earlier in the day. Lie on your left side and use pillows to support your back and tummy. If you wake at night, don’t fuss about it. Take a nap during the day to make up for it.

  1. Hemorrhoids

Because of increased blood volume while pregnant, the veins in the rectum can bulge. Constipation also aggravates hemorrhoids. These can itch, bleed, and cause pain.

What Can Help:

Do not strain with bowel movements. Eating fiber-rich foods and drinking lots of fluids can help with that. If the hemorrhoids bother you, ask your doctor what medication you can use. 

  1. Contractions

As the due date draws near, your cervix thins and softens. This process is normal in helping the birth canal expand during delivery. Your contractions can be real or false (Braxton Hicks contractions). 

To know if your contractions are the real deal, most women describe the feeling as a dull ache in the lower abdomen and back area. There is pressure in the pelvis that feels as if you are experiencing strong menstrual or diarrhea cramps. True labor contractions come at regular intervals. Each interval is about 30 to 70 seconds long and it gets closer and stronger as you near delivery. Unlike Braxton Hicks contractions that stop when you walk or change positions, true contractions are constant.