The Basics of Third Trimester Nutrition
The last three months of pregnancy can in many ways be the most difficult — body size and shape have by now dramatically changed, the extra weight gain during pregnancy makes physical activity more difficult, and the anticipation seems to build with the size of the stomach. Some women begin to miss having their body to themselves at this point, and being able to eat whatever they want, without regarding the health of their child. Still, nutrition during the third trimester remains a priority.
The third trimester diet is really not that different from the first trimester diet. A variety of foods should be consumed with a focus on several minerals, protein, and omega-fatty acids. The only differences for the third trimester of pregnancy is a greater priority on good sources of omega fatty acids, such as wild salmon, tuna, walnuts, avocados, and beans, for healthy brain development, and an increase in calorie intake of about three hundred calories. Although extra calories are necessary during pregnancy, three hundred calories does not entail that much extra food — half a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit, or a cup of frozen yogurt.
Nutriitonal needs during the final phase of pregnancy include three servings of protein (three to four ounces of seafood, meat, poultry, soy, cheese, or nuts), three servings of calcium-rich foods (milk, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, almonds, figs), three servings of vitamin C-rich foods (citrus, berries, kiwi), and carotene-rich foods (green leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet peppers, squash, sweet potatoes) every day. Grains, which are rich in the B-complex vitamins and fiber should be consumed five or six times a day, and any extra appetite should be filled with other fruits and vegetables — bananas, apples, prunes, cabbage — to ensure an adequate supply of other nutrients, such as iron, potassium, and magnesium. Rich in vitamin E, minerals, and healthy fatty acids, nuts also make a great snack for the third trimester diet.
Plenty of nutrition is important during the third trimester, just like the first and the second; but, also avoiding anything unhealthy such as caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods is key. Just because the risk of miscarriage or other complications has dramatically diminished, the growing fetus continues to need as much nutrition as possible during the third trimester of pregnancy.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy
It is important to regulate weight gain during pregnancy as both too much and too little can be of concern. The recommended total increase is from twenty-five to thirty-five pounds for most women. During the last three months, following the third trimester diet should ensure a balanced weight gain. For month seven and eight, one pound should be gained every week. During the ninth month, pregnancy weight gain tapers off to one or two pounds for the whole month.
By focusing on nutrition during the third trimester, and paying attention to overall weight gain during pregnancy, you will not only be more energized, stronger, and more mentally equipped for the birth; but, you will also have done everything possible for the health and well-being of your child.
Murkoff, Heidi, Eisenberg, Arlene, and Hathaway, Sandee. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” (Workman Publishing, 2002).
photo credit: Meagan Jean
photo credit: VMiramontes