It’s almost that time! Hang tight because, in just a few more weeks, you’ll get to meet the baby you’ve been nurturing for the past nine months. During this exciting time in your pregnancy, your baby will be growing rapidly!
As the third trimester begins, the baby holds onto the nutrients it receives from the placenta to prepare itself for birth. Babies have “good fat,” which is also referred to as brown adipose tissue. This “good fat” helps the baby develop and grow, even after birth. In these last few weeks, you may experience sudden bursts of energy. This trimester will also result in the most weight gain, but for a good reason – your body and your baby are growing!
Foods You Should Eat in the Third Trimester
The third trimester allows the baby to develop their teeth, genitalia, and eyes. To properly develop these areas, consuming specific vitamins and minerals is vital. The number of calories consumed should increase as the baby needs sufficient carbohydrates and proteins to grow.
You might be wondering, what should I be eating during this time of such critical development in my pregnancy? Here is a list of great foods to eat in the third trimester that will help promote optimal nutrition for your baby’s growth.
Atlantic Herring (sardines)
Atlantic herring, or sardines, can be an excellent addition to your next lunch or dinner! They provide the body with DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA plays a vital role in supporting the function of the baby’s brain and nervous system after birth. Sardines are also packed with other essential nutrients such as zinc, potassium, phosphorous, and iron. Vitamin D is another nutrient provided by this superfood. Ideally, fresh sardines are the best option, but canned sardines can still benefit your baby!
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of iron, protein, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, niacin, vitamin K, and mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Like sardines, pumpkin seeds can also provide the growing baby with omega-3 fatty acids. This helps support their brain function by allowing the baby to develop their lipid bilayers and cell walls. Pumpkin seeds are easy to pack and snack on in between meals. They are a great way to add essential nutrients to your diet without much effort. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted, added to salads, or eaten on top of oatmeal!
Swap the white rice on your plate with brown rice! Brown rice is a wonderful food to eat in the third trimester complex carbohydrate, which means the body burns it slowly to prolong energy. Unlike white rice, brown rice has a low glycemic index, which does not spike blood sugar. It is a great way to add whole grains and calories to your diet, especially since this is when your baby needs it most! One cup of brown rice contains 3.5 g of fiber, which can help with constipation issues you may be experiencing during this time.
White rice is considered polished because the bran and germ removed are the areas of a wheat kernel that contain the most fiber, B vitamins, and oil. Brown rice keeps the bran, germ, and nutrients that come with them. The nutrients provided by brown rice are plentiful – magnesium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, and even more! Pairing your brown rice with citrus foods like lime, or meat like chicken, can enhance its absorption.
Perfect nutrient-dense snacks to keep on hand during the third trimester are carrots. Carrots offer a multitude of micronutrients and can help keep the body hydrated. One serving of carrots has about 200 mg of potassium and 586 mcg of vitamin A. Replacing calorically dense processed snack foods with carrots can provide significant benefits to your growing baby. Carrots can also easily be incorporated into meal-prepping and homemade soup options. Storing any pre-prepared meals in the freezer can allow you to spend more time with your baby once they arrive while enjoying healthy, nutritious meals.
By now, you’re probably super familiar with the infamous superfood kale. Why is this leafy green such an amazing food choice? Kale is packed with nutrients that can be provided to the body even in small portions. This means that adding kale to smoothies or meals can still provide the body with a substantial number of vitamins and minerals. Kale contains several essential micronutrients, including vitamins A, K, C, B6, folate, and manganese. These micronutrients help boost your immune system and preserve your skin’s elasticity, which is helpful as your stomach continues expanding! During the third trimester, blood volume and supply reach their peak. The vitamin K that kale provides can help with blood clotting and is important leading up to birth.
As exciting as the third trimester is, you may feel like you’re about to pop! Despite the rollercoaster of emotions that can be experienced during this time, fueling your body and your baby with the right nutrition is extremely important. Getting enough calories during this time period will help pose the best outcomes for you and your baby. These last few weeks, aim for about 450 calories above the calories consumed in the second trimester. Obtaining these calories should come from a variety of nutrient-dense, smaller meals. You got this!