Welcome to the 3rd trimester! This is usually a time of nerves and excitement as you prepare for your babies’ arrival. By the third trimester, your baby is a fully formed little human and will use the remaining months of pregnancy to develop his or her lungs, reflexes and most importantly, to grow and gain weight. This means that you will need to keep paying attention to your nutrition so that your baby continues to gain weight as much as possible before birth.
Especially important is ensuring that you get sufficient energy, protein and iron. In fact, the largest amount of iron is transferred to the fetus during the third trimester which means that this is a very important time to make sure you are getting enough iron into your diet and have good iron stores as iron deficiency will limit the supply of iron to the fetus.
As the baby continues to grow, you may find that there is more pressure on your stomach, which means that you get full a lot quicker, you may also get heartburn or reflux after meals. This may limit the amount of food you can take in at meals and therefore it is important to plan your nutrition so that you get enough nutrients and hydration through the day.
TIPS FOR GETTING ENOUGH IRON IN THE 3RD TRIMESTER
- Take an iron supplement. The amount of iron you need at this time is difficult to meet with diet alone so taking a supplement can help to complement your dietary iron intake. Most prenatal vitamins contain sufficient amounts of iron but your health professional may advise you to take additional iron supplements if your iron levels are low.
- Make sure to eat iron-rich foods at every meal. Iron-rich foods include meat, poultry and seafood. If you are having aversions to meat or are vegetarian, you can get plenty of iron from beans, tofu, iron-fortified cereals, pumpkin seeds and spinach.
- Vitamin C increases iron absorption by up to 500% so remember to include a source of Vitamin C in all your meals. Just a squeeze of lemon juice over your spinach, some red or green pepper in your salad or a guava or orange for dessert will be sufficient to increase your iron absorption. Try this refreshing green potato salad for a healthy, nutritious lunch. The peas, tofu and seeds mean that this salad has 5mg of iron per serving and the lemon juice and greens mean that each serving has over 130% of your daily allowance for Vitamin C!
- Remember that tannin’s in tea and coffee, as well as some minerals like calcium, interfere with iron absorption. Make sure to space your tea and coffee intake away from your meals and iron supplements and take your iron and calcium supplements a few hours apart from each other.