Restore Nutrients Before a Second Pregnancy

By Lilian Presti on July 24, 2009

It's important to replenish stores of vital nutrients before a second pregnancy. Second Time Around Pregnancy, Lilian Presti, Organic Baby, Natural Family Planning, Nutrition, Folic Acid, Zinc, Essential Fats, Omega 3s, omega 3Although equally special, second time pregnancies often do not generate the same emotional intensity as first time pregnancies. Women tend to approach a first pregnancy carefully, learning everything they can about fetal stages and appropriate health habits. By the time the second pregnancy rolls around, many may feel as though they have done it before, read all the books, quizzed all the other mothers they know, and survived labor—making them feel like a seasoned pro.Although the effects on a woman’s body can be similar with each pregnancy, you may want to keep in mind the some nutritional recommendations the second time around.

The most important factor to consider is that a woman’s body is often in a different condition than during the first conception. By the second pregnancy, and especially if it happens within two years of the last birth, the body can be depleted of vital nutrients because pregnancy itself is very taxing, oftentimes using up a woman’s precious nutrient stores, leaving them weakened by the experience. If we factor in the physically demanding task of breastfeeding and caring for a baby, we have a recipe for nutrient deficiencies, leaving mother and second baby open for health problems. According to a 2003 study on the topic, “Maternal nutrient depletion may contribute to the increased incidence of preterm births and fetal growth retardation . . . as well as the increased risk of maternal mortality and morbidity.”

In order to protect her developing fetus and her own body from potential problems that derive from nutrient deficiencies, a second time mom may want to pay special attention to omega 3s, iron, folic acid, and zinc.

Omega 3s

These essential fats easily become depleted because they are so important for a baby’s development. Many women do not regularly consume food sources of Omega 3s or do not supplement adequately, and consequently find themselves devoid of this nutrient post-pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Generally, during pregnancy, the fetus takes precedence over the hosting mom, and in the case of a nutrient shortage, the growing baby gets first dibs. Depletion becomes more of a problem if the mother does not consciously replenish her stores before becoming pregnant for a second time. By the time the second fetus arrives, its access to these essential fats would be diminished, which can negatively affect the development of the brain, nervous system, and immune system.

Some experts have theorized that certain behavioral problems and learning disabilities may result from second born children with decreased access to adequate essential fatty acids during fetal development.


During pregnancy, iron needs increase by up to 50 percent. This sudden increase in iron allows for the manufacture of extra blood cells that are necessary to ensure nourishment reaches the fetus via the blood. If deficient in her first pregnancy without correction, a mother is likely to be at risk for further depletion in her second pregnancy.

Low iron should be corrected prior to pregnancy since the condition generally causes considerable fatigue for the mother, making it difficult for her to even get through the most basic of tasks let alone eat properly.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is an important nutrient that needs to be replenished before a second pregnancy is initiated. Because folic acid is key for fetal development (it allows cells to divide properly) and during lactation (for breast milk secretion and production), it can easily become depleted.

Ensure adequate supplementation between pregnancies in addition to eating folate rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.


Zinc deficiency is probably the most common mineral deficiency in both women and men. This fact may have something to do with an under-functioning digestive tract, leading to poor absorption of this mineral. As with the above nutrients, if a woman’s intake and stores of zinc are low, she and her fetus may suffer the consequences of zinc deficiency. Zinc is critical for mental and immune development as well as enzymatic reactions.

Signs of zinc deficiency are catching colds easily, paleness, white spots on nails, and a reduction in sense of smell and taste. In addition to adding dietary sources of zinc and a supplement to the diet, women may wish to consider improving their digestion with a digestive enzyme.

Despite the increased demands women have during a second pregnancy, they owe it to themselves and their babies to ensure they are properly nourished prior to conception and throughout pregnancy. It is important to reinforce stores of omega 3s, iron, folic acid, and zinc prior to becoming pregnant. As the expression goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

More on Natural Pregnancy from Naturally Savvy

By Lilian Presti| July 24, 2009
Categories:  Nest

About the Author

Lilian Presti

Lilian Presti

Lilian is a registered holistic nutritionist who has worked in the nutrition and corporate wellness fields for the over a decade. She teaches pediatric nutrition, delivers corporate and public nutrition seminars, runs a weight-loss program, does one-on-one nutritional counseling and writes on nutrition and wellness topics.

Since having her son Noa, Lilian has taken a keen interest in educating mom’s to be and new parents about proper nutrition during these special periods. Lilian has been featured in Elle Magazine, Flare, Today’s Bride and The Weekly Scoop, MSN/Sympatico’s Weight Loss Challenge and appeared on City TV.

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