Diet in pregnancy: first trimester

Diet in pregnancy: first trimester

A healthy and balanced diet is important at every stage of life, but especially during pregnancy. The nutritional recommendations for pregnant women are more or less the same as those made for every adult, with some exceptions that characterize the success of gestation.


First quarter: how much is allowed to increase?

It’s not just for aesthetic reasons:  weight control is important . Too modest weight gain can increase the risk of giving birth to a low body weight (LBW) infant, while excessive weight gain increases the risk of post-gestational overweight and obesity (for both mother and infant). 

In the period of pregnancy , every future mother must feed herself in such a way as to keep herself in good health and, at the same time, allow the fetal tissues to form and develop in the best way.

Proper nutrition is one of the fundamental prerequisites for the normal evolution of pregnancy and the normal growth of the fetus: quantity and quality of food and drinks must be scrupulously controlled. 

This does not mean that the pregnant woman must “eat for two”, on the contrary, the body weight must always be checked so that it does not exceed certain strictly established parameters.

In terms of weight: in the first 20 weeks the desirable increase is 3.5 kg , while thereafter it should increase by about 0.5 kg per week. 

For those who start pregnancy in an overweight situation (with BMI between 25 and 30) the desirable increase is between 7 and 11.5 kg, while for those starting from a situation of obesity (BMI over 30) the desirable increase is about 7 kg. Finally, those who begin pregnancy in an underweight situation (with a BMI below 18.5) have a greater need for energy and the desirable weight gain ranges from 12.5 to 18 kg.

What changes in the first quarter

During pregnancy, following an adequate diet already during the first trimester allows the expectant mother to take in all the nutrients necessary for her own well-being and that of the baby. 

As regards nutrient needs, on the other hand, the Reference Intake Levels of Nutrients and Energy (LARN) of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition establish them . 

Even during pregnancy, the “ In-forma Plate ” is the educational tool which, after a careful scientific review, has replaced the well-known food pyramid which is not immediately and easily interpreted. 

The dish represents a balanced and healthy meal capable of satisfying us while respecting the proper functioning of the organism of the mother and child, helping to prevent many diseases. It is divided into 4 wedges, each of which represents a proportionally distributed food .

The protein requirement during the first trimester, on the other hand, increases by 0.5 grams per kg of body weight per day, to be added to the 0.71 g per kg per day of a woman of childbearing age. 

The indication is to take 50% of proteins with a high biological value (present in well-cooked meat, fish and eggs, milk and derivatives) and 50% of proteins of vegetable origin . 

It must also be remembered that good habits also help ensure a healthy diet. In particular, during pregnancy , calories should be divided into 3 main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 3 snacks, one of which after dinner to avoid the reduction of energy and nutrients that reach the baby during the night hours. 

To ensure correct weight gain, the importance of physical activity is recommended , but following the instructions of the gynecologist. 

The sports recommended during pregnancy during this period range from walking , especially for sedentary women, to swimming / water aerobics, rather than yoga , pilates  or dance in all its amateur forms. 

In this way it will be possible to keep within the ranges mentioned above, during the first trimester and for the rest of gestation without any risk for the fetus.

First quarter: some myths to dispel

A mother often hears from relatives or friends different anecdotes or myths about pregnancy and breastfeeding  that can create doubts and generate confusion. So let’s try to shed some light and dispel some prejudices!

  •  “You have to eat for two”

Super-feeding in pregnancy is a very common mistake. On the other hand, it is important to remember that a qualitative and quantitative control of nutrition constitutes the basis for ensuring adequate coverage of the mother’s energy costs, both in pregnancy and breastfeeding. The fundamental rule could therefore be revised as follows: 

> “You don’t have to eat for two, but twice better”

The mother’s diet will therefore have to undergo changes especially in the quality of the foods consumed , in order to ensure coverage of her own energy needs and of the unborn child. 


  • “Drinking beer while pregnant will make you produce more milk”

It has been shown that milk production depends on neuro-hormonal processes and not on the amount of beer a woman takes. 


Conversely, alcohol abuse typically could increase the risk of fetal abnormalities . It is therefore important to limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy to a maximum of 1-2 glasses of wine or beer per week. 


It is good to advise a pregnant woman to eat peacefully , without letting fantasies and superstitions take over. A good dialogue with your gynecologist would be the best solution. 

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