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The final stretch

In this last stage of pregnancy your baby will start to gain weight rapidly and you will be expanding. Your skin will stretch and your body has to accommodate the extra weight. Quite often during the 3rd trimester you may feel more aches and pains and generally start to feel tired. Some women will have low iron levels or heartburn. These common ailments are all things that may be improved by diet changes. Personally I noticed a change in my hunger levels around week 30 and needed to ensure I was having a morning and afternoon snack to keep me going. Some of my clients reported waking in the night feeling very hungry, for them I suggested a pre bedtime snack such as peanut butter on oat cakes, a hot chocolate (made with high quality cocoa and semi skimmed milk) or wholemeal toast and Nutella. These may sound like indulgent snacks but for a short period of time they may really help you and not everyone would fancy savoury foods before bed.

Nutrition during pregnancy: The third Trimester

The third trimester is the only stage of pregnancy where you do need to increase your calorie in take to keep up with your baby’s growing demands. However, you only need another 200 kcal’s a day and this can be achieved through a small snack such as crackers with hummus, a slice of toast and avocado, natural yoghurt with nuts and fruit, a milk based drink or a Nakd bar. In this trimester your baby has high demands for calcium, they need up to 350mg per day for bone and teeth development. Additionally, your needs for calcium are also high to help prevent pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure. Building up a good level of both magnesium and calcium may also help labour pains because when the uterine muscle is contracting it is using these minerals just another muscle in your body would on exertion. It is important that you iron intake is high because it takes around 6 weeks to build up stores that your baby will need before birth and through breast feeding.

Top tips for good nutrition during the third trimester:

1. Brain food: your baby’s brain brain is growing faster than ever, 70% of calories your baby receives goes into brain development so it important to include good sources of essential fats in your diet. The best sources are linseed, pumpkin and oily fish. NB. the guidance for oily fish consumption during pregnancy is twice per week because of potential levels of mercury. additionally it is worth remembering that including essential fats in your diet may help prevent stretch marks.
2. Heartburn: if you are suffering with this try having smaller meals, some women benefit from taking 5 small meals a day rather than 3 larger ones. This puts less volume into your stomach at a time reducing the pressure caused by the baby taking up more space in your abdomen. Also watch out for trigger foods, these maybe be spices or even chocolate! So pay attention to what makes it worse for you.
3. Hydration: you will need to build your intake of fluids as you get nearer to breastfeeding so it makes sense to start now, try for at least a 1.5 litres of fresh water a day.
4. Raspberry leaf tea: there is a lot of information available online about the apparent benefits of drinking this tea in the build up to labour because of the softening action it has on the cervix. The theory goes that it will help make stage 2 labour faster because the muscles around the cervix can stretch more easily and it may prevent tearing. The medical community will say that there is no proof of this but it is ok to take it, so in my opinion why not give it a try. The suggestion would be to start drinking one cup a day from around 32 weeks and then increase to a few day from 37 weeks. Always check with your own midwife or GP before trying this.
5. Iron: you need to keep iron levels high so include a portion of red meat at least once a week and daily servings of dark green leafy veg or broccoli. If your levels are low you can try taking Spatone which is a gentle very easily absorbed form of iron that won’t constipate you. It is worth trying this before your levels are so low that your midwife prescribes iron tablets because they will more than likely affect your bowels which may make you uncomfortable.
6. Calcium and magnesium: i will usually recommend that my clients a daily supplement of these important minerals alongside a multi vitamin but as always you should only take supplements under the guidance of a Nutritionist or after checking with your GP.

Preparing for labour:

Preparing for labour is a bit like preparing for the marathon, you need to stock up your energy reserves so that when the day comes you have plenty to draw upon. In the last few weeks before you are due really listen to your body and if you are hungry then eat more but try to make the calories valuable ones rather than cake! Daily portions of slow releasing carbs such wholemeal pasta, brown rice and quinoa will be good choices. Also make sure you are getting enough protein by choosing a protein portion at each meal, this can be vegetarian such as natural yoghurt, nuts, seeds or pulses or meat/fish/dairy produce. Keep up the green veggies which will help with your iron stores. From week 38 you may want to consider taking an evening primrose supplement at 500mg which will increase Omega 6 levels and help prepare the tissue around your cervix and vagina for stretching.

In the time you have between finishing work and having your baby consider stocking up your freezer with homemade meals, this will make the first few weeks after having your baby much easier and will ensure that you are getting good nutrition at that very important time for healing and producing good quality breast-milk. I recommend that you write up a list of simple meals and all the ingredients required so that your partner or a helpful friend or relative can easily do an online shop for you or go to the supermarket without you having to think about what to have for dinner. It may sound like a lot of work but it will save time in the long run.

Pregnancy Nutrition packages

Nutritio offers pregnancy packages that give you one appointment per trimester allowing you to adapt your diet for your baby’s changing needs as it grows. In between appointments you can use our email service to ask any questions that come up to help ensure that you feel reassured at every stage. For more information read our pregnancy content.

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