What to Eat during the Pregnancy– A Week-by-Week IV

Week 7

(Gestational Week 9)

Your baby is now about ½ inch long.

What’s Happening?

In addition to all of the body parts and organs that are already rapidly developing, your baby’s teeth and palate are starting to form. Now and in the next few weeks, as your baby’s body continues to grow and develop, every day each organ becomes more specialized and complicated.

This week is a peak time for morning sickness for many women; if this is true for you, you may need to put in a lot of extra effort to take in the proper nutrients and keep them down.

Food of the Week: Sweet Potato

High in carbohydrates, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and K, sweet potatoes are a great source of nutrients at this time. Also, because they contain plenty of carbohydrates and vitamin B6, sweet potatoes may be especially beneficial if you’re experiencing nausea and vomiting. Baking it with the skin on is one of the best choices, although any form is good.

Nutrient-packed and delicious, the following recipe not only provides you with the vitamins and minerals you need but may even help with the morning sickness (cinnamon is known for alleviating nausea in pregnancy). Though baking is involved, the preparation is very easy. However, if you don’t feel like adding cinnamon or think that it may trigger your nausea (every woman is different, and what helps some with nausea may trigger it in others), you can easily omit it and enjoy a simple, plain baked sweet potato.

Cinnamon Baked Sweet Potato Wedges

Baked sweet potato wedges are a tasty alternative to sweet
potato fries. Adding a dash of cinnamon perks up the flavor,
and if you like them with a little kick, add a sprinkle of cayenne
pepper too.

1 sweet potato or yam (½ pound)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cayenne pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Wash the sweet potato and cut it in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 4 thin wedges for 8 total. If any wedges are thicker than 1 inch at the widest part, slice those in half again.

Place the sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl and add the oil. Toss
to coat. Spread the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet,
leaving room between them, and sprinkle lightly with salt,
cinnamon, and cayenne to taste.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender with crisp edges. Serve hot
or warm.

Week 8

(Gestational Week 10)

This week your baby’s embryonic period ends; from this point on, it is a

What’s Happening?

Week 8 is an important one because, by the end of it, your baby will have completed the embryonic development period: all of its major body systems will have formed. All of these will continue to grow and develop throughout the rest of the pregnancy: fingers and toes, brain (250,000 neurons are produced per minute!), heart, lungs, muscle, liver, pancreas, kidney, and blood vessels, to list just a few. Interestingly, during this time your baby’s taste buds are forming on its little tongue, and the eyelids are now covering a larger area of the eyes.

Food of the Week: Turkey

Roasted turkey without the skin is a great source of iron, phosphorus,
potassium, zinc, niacin, and lean protein—and all of these nutrients are
needed to support your baby’s development at this time. If you’re having
a hard time keeping food down, try eating the turkey cold, such as in a
salad like the following recipe, as it will be close to odorless and bland
tasting, making it easier to eat. This recipe is delicious and not
overwhelming avor-wise—try it for a wholesome, light, and balanced
meal. In addition to the recipe below, check out Savory Roasted Chicken
Breasts with Whole Grain Mustard, Two-Pepper Turkey and Havarti
Sandwich with Radish Salad, and Turkey-Apple Burgers with Cheddar.

Arugula Salad with Turkey, Avocado, and
Dried Cranberries

Peppery arugula makes a delicious salad base and is high in
magnesium, vitamin A, and folate. The creamy avocado and
sweet cranberries round out the flavors of this colorful,
nutrient-packed salad.

6 ounces baby arugula (or baby spinach)
8 ounces cooked turkey breast
⅔ avocado, cubed
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 to 4 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing of your choice

Combine the arugula, turkey, avocado, cranberries, tomatoes,
and dressing in a large mixing bowl and toss gently to coat.
Divide the salad between two plates and serve.

Week 9

(Gestational Week 11)

The fetal period begins—let’s build some muscle!

What’s Happening?

Week 9 is a very exciting one, as your baby has now begun what is known as the fetal period, which will last until birth. Most of the major organs (heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, blood vessels, brain), which have been developing throughout, are continuing to grow, and now your baby is actively building its muscles. Also, its kidneys have just started to do their job, and urine formation begins between weeks 9 and 12. Your baby will start discharging urine into the amniotic uid, which will then be transferred to your circulation, processed, and expelled from your body. At the end of this week, your baby is about 2.2 centimeters long—still short of an inch, but slowly getting there!

Food of the Week: Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of nonanimal iron and are also rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, niacin, vitamin K, and mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. In their raw (unroasted, unsalted) form, pumpkin seeds are also essentially odorless, making them easier to eat if you’re experiencing morning sickness. Pumpkin seeds can be an excellent snack between meals, or you can sprinkle them on a salad, adding many important nutrients to your diet without much effort. In addition to the recipe below, check out the Roasted or Raw Beet Salad.

Harvest Oatmeal with Pumpkin Seeds

Rich in whole grains, vitamin A, fiber, and calcium, this warm
bowl of fall-flavored goodness is tasty any day of the year. It’s
a great way to use up canned pumpkin from another recipe, or
leftover cranberry sauce from your holiday feast. Just freeze
pumpkin and cranberry sauce in ice-cube trays, then pop the
cubes into a resealable plastic bag for longer storage.

1 cup quick-cooking (“baby”) oats
3 cups skim, 1%, or almond milk
⅔ cup canned pumpkin puree
½ cup cranberry sauce (homemade or canned)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
Combine all of the ingredients (except the pumpkin seeds) in a
small pot and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Reduce
the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour into a bowl
and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds.

Week 10

(Gestational Week 12)

Let’s get physical: your baby is starting to stretch and kick.

What’s Happening?

During this time, as your baby’s main organs continue to grow, the baby is also hard at work building bones and cartilage. This week, the fingernails also start to appear, and the eyelids are even better formed (though they are still fused shut). Now that all of the main organs are beginning to work, your baby can swallow amniotic uid. The baby’s heart has divided into all four chambers and is working hard to pump blood as well as deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout its growing body. Perhaps most exciting, your baby is also starting to stretch and kick—though you won’t feel this for another month or two. Week 10 is also an important one if the baby is a boy, as his testes now start to produce testosterone!

Food of the Week: Eggs

As discussed in more detail in Appendix A (along with other tips about
foods to avoid), you should consume only eggs that are thoroughly
cooked to kill any potential salmonella. Properly cooked eggs, however,
are an excellent food, particularly at this time. Eggs are rich in protein,
iron, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A and D, as well as
monounsaturated fatty acids.

Two hard-boiled eggs with one or two slices of whole-wheat toast can be a perfect breakfast. If you’re experiencing nausea or vomiting, try eating the hard-boiled eggs cold, as they will have next to no odor and thus may be easier to eat and keep down. In addition to the recipes below, check out Turkey-Apple Burgers with Cheddar; Anchovy, Parsley, and Parmesan Cheese Quiche; and Stuffed Portobello Caps with Wild Rice, Cherries, and Pecans.

Egg, Toast, and Melon Plate

This meal is gentle on the stomach and gives you steady
energy that will take you through a challenging morning. Try
this for a low-odor, easy-to-digest meal that provides a
balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat, with a replenishing
dose of potassium. If desired, add a sprinkle of salt to the eggs.
4 eggs
4 slices whole grain bread
2 cups cut melon (honeydew or cantaloupe)

Place the eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a saucepan
and add enough cold water to cover by at least an inch. Bring
to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 12
minutes. Drain, keeping the eggs in the pot, and immediately
refill the pot with cold water (this shock makes them easier to
peel). Let sit for a minute before draining again. The eggs will
keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Peel and slice the eggs and toast the bread. Serve the eggs on
top of the toast with the cut melon on the side.

Skillet Eggs with Peppers and Herbs

A Sunday brunch favorite, basted eggs (cooked in a covered
pan) are cooked slightly more than sunny side up, with yolks
that are set but not dried out. Serve with whole grain toast for
a nutritious breakfast for two! Choosing omega-3-fortified
eggs helps provide fatty acids that are essential for your
baby’s developing nervous system.

Olive oil spray
1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
4 omega-3 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley

Coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil spray and cook the
peppers over medium heat until soft. Make 4 wells in the
peppers with a plastic spatula and crack an egg into each well.
Cook until the whites are almost completely set, then cover the
skillet and turn the heat down to low. Leave for 3 minutes, then
check for doneness by poking one of the yolks. Cook 1 to 2
minutes longer if necessary. When done to your liking, sprinkle
with the herbs and divide between two plates.

Week 11

(Gestational Week 13)

All of baby’s essential organs and organ systems have formed.

What’s Happening?

Your baby’s head is now about half the size of its body, but not to worry —things will become more proportional. This week, the baby’s small intestine is coiling around its umbilical cord outside its body (it will be brought inside later on). Also, your baby now looks more like a baby rather than an alien-like little being; it has visible hands and feet as well as teeny tiny fingers and toes. Your baby’s facial features are developing as well, and the ears are nearly in their final place (they’ve been shifting up from the neck to the normal ear position). If you’re expecting a girl, this is also a very important week, as her ovaries are now growing at full speed.

Food of the Week: Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed from South America that has surged in popularity in
recent years due to its superior nutrition prole and great avor. You
may have heard quinoa referred to as a superfood. Living up to that
name, quinoa is highly benecial both now and later on in your
pregnancy because it is simply packed with the nutrients you need. A
cup of cooked quinoa has 40 g of carbohydrate, 5 g of ber, and nearly 3
mg of iron, and is high in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and
zinc; it also contains some folate and mono- as well as polyunsaturated
fatty acids.

You can eat quinoa as a main dish or as a side, as in this
recipe. As with most foods, when it comes to staving o nausea, try
eating quinoa cold if its smell is too overwhelming when hot. In
addition to the recipe below, check out Rotisserie Chicken with Apricot
Quinoa over Spinach (89).

Golden Quinoa with Raisins and Apricots

Quinoa is as easy to cook as white rice, but has more flavor and
higher amounts of iron, protein, fiber, and B vitamins. Try this
dish served hot or cold–it is delicious both ways. Double or
triple the recipe for a potluck, and everyone will want the

½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
6 dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons golden or dark raisins, not packed
⅓ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Rinse the quinoa and combine it with the water in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low, cover, and
simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Stir the apricots, raisins, turmeric, salt, and cinnamon into the
quinoa and let the mixture sit, covered, for 3 minutes. Taste and
add cayenne if desired.


There is a kitchen gadget for everything, but do you need a quinoa strainer? Quinoa has a natural bitter coating of saponins, which give it a slight soaplike taste. Most people can’t detect the soapy taste, but some are sensitive to it. Most commercially available quinoa comes pre-rinsed, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a quick rinse anyway–an ordinary mesh kitchen strainer is all you need for this.

Week 12

(Gestational Week 14)

This is the last week of the rst trimester. Your baby is now the size of a

What’s Happening?

Week 12 marks the end of the first trimester—you’re now one-third of the way closer to meeting your baby! Most of your baby’s organs are now working on their own, even as they continue to grow and develop at a fast pace. The intestines that were outside of its little body just last week are now neatly in place, tucked inside the abdomen. Also, your baby is now producing certain hormones on its own, such as the pituitary hormone from the pituitary gland.

Food of the Week: Cod

Rich in protein, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and vitamins B6, B12,
and D, cod is an excellent lunch or dinner choice for this week. Your
baby’s growth is about to take o, big time, as you’re entering the second
trimester, and a lot of extra protein is needed to support it.

Cod with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Cod is a white-fleshed, very mild-tasting fish. It is a rich source
of protein and is low in mercury, making it a great pick for
expectant moms. Use any leftover red pepper sauce as a dip
for raw vegetables, or spread it on sandwiches instead of

½ cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooking oil spray
2 cod fillets (¾ pound total)

Planning Out Your Meals

One of the best ways to ensure that you are eating well is to plan out a
menu. Thinking ahead regarding what you plan to eat not only can save
you time (and money) but also helps keep you on track with eating
healthy foods and avoiding convenience foods (think vending-machine
lunch at work). I oer a sample menu on the next page using the recipes
in this chapter to give you a sense of how easy it is to get all of the
essential nutrients that you and your baby need in this trimester by
making a few quick and easy meals.

Keep this in mind: you don’t need to stress about making sure you get enough of every nutrient each day; the key is to meet the recommended intakes of all nutrients over two or three days. It is perfect if your intake is a bit short or over the recommended amount, as long as the average is close to what is recommended. And know that exceeding the recommendations by consuming food sources alone is extremely unlikely to cause harm to you or your baby (seriously, it’s just about impossible—the rare exceptions are excess vitamin A in the form of retinol from animal sources such as liver). Not meeting the recommendations, on the other hand, can be more detrimental, so try your best to get what’s needed, and if you’re falling short, consider adding a supplement to ll in the nutritional gaps.

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