What should I be eating the late stages of pregnancy?

Get the low down on what foods you need to eat in your third trimester

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In pregnancy it’s even more important to eat well so that you and your growing baby get the nutrients you both need. Eating healthily is important throughout pregnancy but if cravings have got the better of you it’s worth remembering that it’s never too late to start eating nutritious well-balanced meals.

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During the third trimester your nutritional needs are different to the first six months of your pregnancy.

Should I eat differently in the third trimester?

When you’re pregnant your body uses the energy you get from food more efficiently. Because of this you don’t actually need any extra calories for the first six months. In the third trimester you do need a little more, but only about 200 extra calories per day. 

What should I eat?

Try to make sure that your meals are as varied and nutritious as possible. You should try to eat foods from the four main food groups:

  • Dairy – Dairy products are an important source of calcium. During pregnancy your body needs twice as much calcium per day.  Calcium is important for your developing baby’s bones and teeth.  Good sources include milk, cheese and yoghurt, which contain calcium. If you can’t have dairy there are plenty of alternative sources of calcium. The best non-dairy source of calcium is fortified soy beverages. Foods like almonds, sesame seeds, broccoli, spinach and dried figs also provide small amounts of calcium.
  • Fruits and vegetables – Packed with essential nutrients and full of fibre, fruit and vegetables are an important part of any healthy diet and even more so when you’re pregnant. Fibre is great for preventing that common pregnancy complaint constipation. It’s very important to make sure you have at least five portions of fruit and veg each day. Any kind, fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced are fine.
  • Foods high in starch – Foods high in starch help to regulate blood sugar levels and are filling energy foods. These include bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Try to choose wholegrain options.
  • Foods rich in protein -Protein is vital for your baby’sgrowth and development. Protein rich foods include lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs and pulses (such as beans and lentils). Try to include fish in your diet, including of oily fish, as it is a good natural source of Omega 3 but limit yourself to only two portions a week.

Should I take vitamin supplements?

If you eat a varied and balanced diet there shouldn’t be much need for vitamin supplements. However, it’s not always easy to get all the nutrients that you need and an antenatal multi-vitamin supplement may put your mind at rest. Make sure you never take more than the specified dose and if you’re at all concerned, have a chat to your midwife or GP.

A good pregnancy multi-vitamin should contain the following:

  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Vitamins C, D, E and B vitamins such as B6 and B12
  • Potassium
  • Zinc (check it’s in the form zinc citrate)
  • Iodine

Omega-3 supplements are especially important during your final trimester as it aids the development of your baby’s brain. 

Don’t take vitamins that contain the retinol form of Vitamin A and avoid fish oil supplements which are made from fish livers like cod liver oil.

Late pregnancy nutrition helpful tips:

·         Eat regularly, three meals a day with healthy snacks in-between

·         Eat little and often to avoid heartburn

·         Have a good balance of foods everyday

·         Variety is your friend! Try to include foods from the four food groups as much as possible

·         Eat foods rich in iron, like lean red meat, and leafy green vegetables like spinach and broccoli

·         Try to have something high in fibre and wholegrain with every meal as they are filling

·         Remember its ok to treat yourself! Naughty nibbles are ok in moderation

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