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6 Key Foods for Your Third Trimester

The third trimester of pregnancy is one of rapid growth and requires essential nutrients to do so. Your baby is busy getting ready to function in the outside world and gains about 1/3 to ½ of their weight in the last 7 weeks before birth. Your baby’s lungs and brain are not fully developed until the last two weeks of pregnancy. At 39 weeks your baby’s physical development is complete but continues to add fat storages to help regulate body temperature outside of the womb. The nutrients in your third trimester are key for your baby’s rapid growth and preparing your body for the birth of your baby.

6 Key Foods for Your Third Trimester

1. Avocado

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat which promotes healthy blood flow to your baby’s brain. The fat found in avocados aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Avocados are also full of fibre that helps to regulate your blood sugar and promote bowel movements; helping with constipation that many women experience in the third trimester.

2. Dates

Dates contain a variety of nutrients that contribute to a healthy pregnancy; including fibre, 23 amino acids and vitamin C. A recent study has shown that consuming dates in the last 4 weeks of your pregnancy may have positive benefits on your birth experience. The consumption of dates significantly lowered the need for induction and augmentation of labour.

3. Free-range Poultry

Free-range poultry provides necessary protein for your baby’s muscle development. Protein provides essential amino acids which are the building blocks for muscle growth. As your baby grows in the third trimester; the need for protein increases by about 20 grams/daily. It is important that you get your protein from quality food sources. Animal protein such as free-range poultry is a complete protein providing all the amino acids required.

4. Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is an excellent source of iron. Your need for iron doubles during pregnancy as your blood volume expands to adapt to changes in your body and to help your growing baby make their blood supply. An iron deficiency may result in anemia and has been correlated with low birthweights. Research has shown a decrease in preterm delivery with adequate iron levels. Excess iron can be harmful; therefore, only dietary sources of iron should be consumed unless prescribed by a physician.

5. Water

Though it is not technically a food; water is needed at every life stage but especially in your third trimester. Water is required for the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby in the uterus. As your blood volume increases, so does your need for water. Water is essential to transport nutrients into cells and into your baby. Dehydration can be directly linked to preterm contractions in many women. It is recommended that pregnant women drink 3 litres of water per day.

6. Wild Caught Salmon

Wild-caught salmon provides essential fatty acid (EFA) known as omega 3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) a type of omega 3 is specifically known to assist brain, eye, immune and nervous system development. The formation of neurons and the synthesis of brain lipid phosphatidylserine require DHA. DHA required for structural support of the brain and brain cell function. DHA is particularly important in the third trimester when the largest amount of fetal brain development happens. While pregnant you should consume no more than 12 ounces of cooked fish per week to limit any consumption of mercury.

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Al-Kuran, O., Al-Mehaisen, L., Bawadi, H., Beitawi, S. and Amarin, Z. The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery. J. Obest. Gyn. 2011; 31(1): 29-31.

Al-Shabhib, W. and Marshall, R.J. The fruit of the date palm: its possible use as the best food for the future? Int. J. Food Sci. Nutr. 2003; 54(4): 247-259.

Azais-Braesco, V. and Pascal, G. Vitamin A in pregnancy: requirements and safety limits. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000;71(5): 1325s-1333s.

PregMed. Dehydration during pregnancy. http://www.pregmed.org/dehydration-during-pregnancy.htm

Fallon Morell, Sally and Cowan, Thomas. The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. New Trends; Washington. 2013.

Georgieff, M.K. Nutrition and the developing brain: nutrient priorities and measurement. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2007; 85(2): 6145-6205.

Lao, T.T., Tam, K.F. and Chan, L.Y. Third trimester iron status and pregnancy outcome in non-anaemic women; pregnancy unfavourably affected by maternal iron excess. Human Reprod. 2000; 15(8): 1843-1848.

McArdle, H.J. and Ashworth, C.J. Micronutrients in fetal growth and development. British Medical Bulletin. 1999; 55(3): 499-510.

Simkin, Penny. Et al. Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn. Revised Edition. Meadowbrook Press: New York. 2016.

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