Nutritional needs for the final months of pregnancy.
Congratulations mama--only a few more months until you get to meet your little bundle! You're in the final stretch and are probably starting to feel a new wave of anxiousness and excitement as D-Day approaches. Hopefully you've been feeling well and took advantage of the extra energy and mobility that the second trimester brings. Now that the third trimester is here, let the nesting begin! (if it hasn't already!)
At this stage, baby is going through his final phase of development and his internal systems are functioning and maturing. He is starting to prepare for life outside the womb by practicing his movement (i.e. kicking you in the ribs), his breathing (yes, those are hiccups!) and his exit strategy - those Braxton-Hicks contractions are getting your body ready for the real thing. So with about three months to go, what are the best ways to fuel up for the final push?
Here's what you need:
1. Smaller meals. You may find you get full quickly these days and that is no surprise, considering your stomach has been forced into a much smaller space to make room for the growing baby. Switching to smaller, more frequent meals (if you haven't already) will help with digestion and manage that pesky heartburn, which is one of the most common ailments at this point (you know, aside from just general discomfort). Avoiding spicy and fried foods can also help keep that fire at bay.
2. Healthy fats. Over the course of the next few weeks, baby will go through a final growth spurt and fat will begin to accumulate on his body. The healthy fat omega-3 is critical for baby's rapid brain development happening at this stage, and the best sources are wild salmon, sardines and fish oil (which includes a type of omega-3 called DHA). If you can't stomach fish, flax seeds and other plant-based sources such as walnuts are the next best thing.
3. Vitamins B, C and D. As baby starts to get himself ready to live in the outside world, he is storing up key nutrients, and he's not afraid to pull them from you if he needs to. You should make sure to get plenty B, C and D vitamins to supplement your needs as well as baby's. Fill your plate with leafy greens next to that piece of salmon and you've got yourself a meal packed with essential vitamins and nutrients for a healthy, growing, mom and baby.
4. Protein. For baby to continue gaining weight appropriately, mom should continue to pack her diet with protein in addition to healthy fats. The extra 25 grams will go a long way at this stage. With baby's final growth spurt comes another increase in your hunger, so keep consuming those extra calories. You may need to stick to the higher end of the 300-500 range to feel satisfied.
5. Fiber. At this point in your pregnancy, your digestive system may feel out of whack and constipation can be an unfortunate result. Your intestines are working in less than ideal conditions, as they've been displaced to make room for the baby and space becomes more and more limited every day. Complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain a healthy dose of fiber to keep things moving - and lest we forget they are body's primary source of energy which you will need as the fatigue settles back in.
6. Rest. This one goes without saying, but now is the most important time to listen to your body. Make sure to stay active if your doctor gives you the okay, but as you put the finishing touches on the nursery and read “What to Expect" one final time, don't forget to take the time to put your feet up and enjoy the quiet moments while they last.