You’re almost there! In a few short weeks, you’ll get to meet the baby you have been waiting 9 long months for. Until then, your baby will be enduring a long period of rapid growth. During the third trimester, baby is storing up all the nutrients they will need to face the real world. Their brown adipose tissue, known as the “good fat” for being most metabolically active, is growing at a rapid pace. This kind of tissue will help to them to continue to grow and develop after birth. You may be experiencing sudden boosts in energy, which makes homemade meal prepping for when baby arrives a lot easier. You will gain the most weight during this time but have no fear. It is because baby is gaining a lot too!
During this time, the final touches of baby will be developing, including their external genitalia, teeth, eyes. To ensure proper maturity of these areas, certain nutrients are a must in your diet. Ramping up your overall caloric intake is essential, especially making sure you have enough carbohydrates and protein to sustain growth. These foods will help you stay on track for birth.
Walnuts are a great snack to keep on hand in between meals, and a great addition to meals for extra calories. A serving size of walnuts is about the size of your cupped palm (stopping where your fingers begin) and packs a ton of omega fatty acids. This will help your baby develop their own lipid bilayers, or the walls of cells, and aid a growing brain. Try adding walnuts to trail mix, or as a crunchy salad topper.
Atlantic herring (sardines):
Sardines pack an abundance of DHA, which will support baby’s brain function and central nervous system once born. They also contain a lot of vitamin D, which could be hard to come by if you live far from the equator. Sardines also contain zinc, potassium, iron, and phosphorous making them a vitamin and mineral powerhouse. Finding fresh Atlantic sardines are best but if pacific is your only option, they still offer many health benefits.
Whole grains are a complex carbohydrate, meaning that brown rice, when compared to white rice, gives the body slow burning carbohydrates to prolong energy. Brown rice also has a low glycemic index, which does not cause blood sugar spikes like processed rice would. It is a great source of whole grain, especially during the third trimester when caloric needs are increased overall. One cup of brown rice contains 3.5 g of fiber and can help with constipation often experienced during the home stretch of pregnancy. By avoiding the processing that white rice endures, brown rice keeps its bran and germ containing many micronutrients and oils. Moderate amounts of calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and zinc can all be found within these parts of the rice. The absorption of these nutrients can be easily enhanced by pairing your rice with acid (citrus, vinegar) or meat.
You have probably heard about this infamous leafy green, and it proves itself again and again as a superfood. You can obtain a substantial amount of nutrients by eating even a small portion of kale in your smoothies or meals. Kale contains essential nutrients including vitamins A, K, C, B6, and folate, along with minerals including manganese. These vitamins help boost your immune system and preserve your skin’s elasticity. Throughout the third trimester, blood volume and supply are at their peak. Vitamin K in particular helps with blood clotting and is important leading up to birth.
Carrots are a small, nutrient dense snack to keep in your home leading up to birth, and can help with hydration. One serving of carrots has 200 mg of potassium and 586 mcg of vitamin A. Carrots also make a great additive for meal prepped meals, stews and soups. All of which can be made and stored in the freezer ahead of the baby's arrival, allowing you to enjoy healthy meals in a flash and spend more time recovering from birth and bonding with the baby once they arrive.
You may feel like you’re about to pop right about now but feeding you and baby essential nutrients and enough calories everyday will pose the best outcomes. Aim for about 450 calories above your average intake from the second trimester through a variety of nutrient dense, smaller meals. You got this!