Diet in pregnancy: third trimester

Even in the last months of gestation, ensuring an adequate supply of nutrients helps the baby to grow and reduces the risk of complications.

Taking care of the diet in pregnancy protects the health of mother and baby. Even the third trimester is no exception to this rule, and imagine why it is simple: the woman still gains weight, the baby grows quite a lot, and the volume of the placenta also increases.

At this stage the energy demands of the baby reach their maximum and his mother finds herself with a caloric need of about 450 Kcal per day more.

However, avoiding gaining too much weight is essential to reduce the risk of complications of gestation or childbirth. For this reason, in the third trimester a normal-weight woman should gain weight only 400 grams per week.

However, caloric needs are not the only factor to be taken into account: to be healthy, the third trimester diet must also provide an adequate supply of nutrients.

Carbohydratesfats and proteins

Carbohydrates should account for 45-60% of daily calories. It is better not to overdo it with simple sugars (such as those of sweets), which should remain below 15% of daily calories. Well, instead, make room for fiber: they should be taken at least 25 g a day, in the form of fruits and vegetables (well washed, peeled or cooked), legumes and whole grains.Fats should provide 20-35% of total calories. Trans foods (found in some baked goods or fried foods) should be avoided, while cholesterol and saturated fats (typical of animal foods) should remain below, respectively, 300 mg per day and 10% of daily calories.

Among the healthy fats friends of child development, omega 3 DHA stands out, of which fish is rich, especially species such as salmon and mackerel. Fish, when taken in adequate amounts, also appears to reduce the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Be careful, however, because, like other potential sources of foodborne infections, it must be consumed well cooked. In addition, the chosen fish should be varied and the consumption of large predators, such as the swordtail, should be limited to no more than 150 g per week.

Eating fish also helps to meet the need for protein, which in the third trimester increases by 21 g per day: for this reason the recommended intake rises to 80 g of protein per day.

To take them you can also eat meats (well cooked, avoiding cold cuts and raw sausages), eggs (cooked) and dairy products, but not only. In fact, 50% of the needs should be met by plant sources, such as legumes.

Vitamins and minerals

Finally, to reduce the risk of preterm birth it is important to meet the need for vitamin A by consuming whole milk and dairy products, eggs and orange, yellow or dark green fruits and vegetables. Supplements are strongly discouraged due to the risk of malformations.

On the contrary, you often cannot do without iron supplements, and in some cases (to be evaluated with your doctor) you may need to take calcium or B vitamins.

Finally, the intake of vitamin D is generally also recommended, especially in case of overweight, while it is necessary to limit the consumption of sodium, present both in table salt and in some foods, such as cheeses, but not only (see following table).

Food Amount of sodium/100 grams
Soy sauce 5720 mg
Ham 2578 mg
Sturgeon eggs 2200 mg
Smoked salmon 1880 mg
Pecorino 1800 mg
Bresaola – Italy 1597 mg
Ketchup 1120 mg
Marinated herring 1030 mg
Taleggio cheese 873 mg

How often to eat

All these nutrients should be taken with a varied diet, divided into 3 main meals and 3 snacks (mid-morning, mid-afternoon and after dinner) and accompanied by adequate water consumption (2.35 liters per day). Coffee should not be more than 2 or 3 a day, while alcohol is to be banned: it can cross the placenta and get directly to the baby.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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