Third trimester nutrition
Now you are on the downhill run! The third trimester is exciting, getting ready for meeting your new bub. It is also the trimester where you feel your size! Your growing baby pushes up onto the diaphragm, sometimes causing breathlessness and digestive issues. Pressure on the bladder sends you to the toilet more frequently and it is rather hard to stay comfortable in bed!
You will notice a few digestive changes, a side effect of hormonal changes and your baby’s increasing size. Both ends can be affected! You may experience reflux and/or constipation.
Preventing heartburn …
As the stomach is pushed up so is its contents, causing reflux that may be experienced as heartburn and nausea. To remedy this avoid three larger meals, replacing them with smaller more regular meals. Chew your food thoroughly and try not to drink large quantities of fluids with meals. Also try to leave two-to-three hours after meals before lying down, and avoid foods that may aggravate such as chocolate, tomato, citrus and carbonated drinks. A fennel or chamomile tea before meals may help, too.
… and constipation, too
Down the other end you may experience constipation. Ensure that you are drinking adequate amounts of water between meals and have a diet high in soluble fibre to soften your stool. Great sources of soluble fibre include prunes and other stone fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, psyllium, linseed and legumes. A great way to start the day is with a bowl of raw muesli or porridge with a tsp of psyllium, a tbsp of ground linseed and some prunes, soaked overnight in milk or almond milk. Walking will also invigorate the bowel and get things moving!
Varicose veins, be gone!
Keeping your stool soft and bowel motions regular will also help to prevent varicose veins and haemorrhoids which may rear their ugly head in pregnancy. Also avoid putting on excess weight, do not cross your legs and feet, elevate your legs when you can and get plenty of gentle exercise. Foods high in vitamin C and bioflavonoids can help strengthen vessel walls, these include citrus fruits (eat a little of the pith too!), berries, capsicum, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, spinach, broccoli … just to name a few!
Leg cramps and backache can be common in the third trimester as the hormone relaxin has well and truly kicked in and you start to have a waddle to your walk as your centre of gravity shifts and your pelvis really starts to loosen up in preparation for birth. Foods high in magnesium and calcium can help ease these symptoms and also help in keeping your blood pressure in check (see “Stuck in the middle with you: here’s what to eat in the second trimester” for great sources). Gentle stretching and prenatal yoga is also highly beneficial.
Muscle improvement and tissue repair
Calcium and magnesium are also important in your diet for labour preparation as they help the uterine muscle to function optimally and help regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Zinc is also another nutrient you need to make sure you are getting plenty of in your diet for many reasons – it enhances tissue repair after birth, helps build healthy nipple tissue and can help prevent postnatal depression. Zinc is found in whole grains, beef, baked beans, pumpkins seeds, cashews and sunflower seeds
Singling out certain nutrients for each trimester highlights the more important ones. However, all nutrients are important at every stage of pregnancy. Nobody’s diet and lifestyle is perfect. A good-quality pregnancy multivitamin/mineral and fish oil (screened for heavy metals and other pollutants) is a great insurance policy throughout your pregnancy.
Third trimester superfoods
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This article was written by Sarah Coleman for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz