Although the third trimester comes with the exciting prospect of meeting your baby, it can also be an uncomfortable time for you. Breathing becomes challenging. You’re always running to the bathroom and it is nearly impossible to bend down and pick up anything. This is because this is the period where your baby grows most rapidly, and, as a result, you may feel tired. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the importance of nutrition during this trimester.
“A mom requires five vital nutrients in the last stretch of her pregnancy,” says registered dietician Abby Courtenay from Nutritional Solutions. These are vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and choline.
Vitamin C supports the fast growth of your baby’s cells, ensures that your immune system is functioning optimally and helps your body absorb iron from plant sources. Women with low blood levels of vitamin C have been found to be more likely to suffer with pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in the urine.
Try for five servings of vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables in a variety of colours a day, such as red and green peppers, oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and grapefruit.
Calcium ensures that your bone mineral density is optimal and promotes the normal growth and development of your baby’s bones, teeth, muscles and nerves. It is also important for muscle contractions, blood clotting and the regulation of blood pressure. If your intake is not sufficient, your body may leach calcium from your bones to ensure your baby has enough. Most pregnancy multivitamins don’t contain enough calcium, so an additional supplement should be consumed.
Aim to include good sources of calcium like low-fat dairy products (low-fat yoghurt, milk and cheese) on a daily basis as well as other sources such as tahini, beans, chickpeas, tofu (made with calcium sulphate) and sardines or canned salmon (with bones).
Magnesium is also an important mineral for bone health. In addition, it helps your body utilise protein and energy and regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and assists with muscle and nerve function. Supplementation during pregnancy has been linked to a reduced incidence of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth retardation, and might be beneficial for women suffering from leg cramps.
Choose magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, high-fibre wholegrain cereals and dark green leafy vegetables on a daily basis.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish are important during pregnancy and breastfeeding as it is believed that they are involved in the development of your baby’s brain, central nervous system and eyes. Supplementation of omega-3 oils during pregnancy may be beneficial (especially if your dietary intake is low).
Aim to eat at least two portions of oily fish per week in the form of salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and pilchards.
Choline is plays an important role in the development of your baby’s cell membranes, nerve impulses and brain. General multivitamins often lack choline, and for this reason, you should aim to include foods rich in choline in your diet.
Choline-rich foods include eggs, salmon, kidney beans, low-fat milk, pork, chicken, turkey, beef liver and wheatgerm.
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Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.