While all pregnant bodies are different, most people need around 450 calories more during the third trimester than when not pregnant.1 That’s the equivalent of eating an extra snack, such as an 8-ounce glass of skim milk, one-quarter cup each of walnuts and raisins, and a small apple. You also need larger amounts of nutrients like calcium, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and more. But with a growing baby crowding your belly, getting extra food in can become a challenge.
Here are five ways to make sure you’re getting the energy and nutrients you need in your third trimester:
1. Eat small, frequent meals
If your typical breakfast, lunch or dinner is too much to digest comfortably, shift to eating smaller meals more regularly. Instead of three bigger meals, you may prefer eating four to six smaller, more frequent meals. You can split your meals in half or use the mini-meals as chances to get in nutrients you may be falling short on, like calcium and fiber.
2. Go fish
Fish contain nutrients that support brain development and more. If you haven’t gotten in the habit of eating 8-12 ounces per week of lower-mercury fish like cod and sardines,2 now is a great time to start. Try ordering a salad with salmon or shrimp instead of chicken on top or snacking on whole grain crackers with mashed sardines and a squeeze of lemon juice.
3. Blend a smoothie
Drinking a smoothie can be an easy-to-digest way of squeezing in a lot of nutrients. Store-bought smoothies, however, can be pricey and may have more sugar than you’d expect. Instead, make your own blend at home. Include some low-fat yogurt or kefir for bone-building calcium3 and gut-healthy bacteria.4
4. Add on healthy fats
Besides being good for your heart,5 healthy (monounsaturated) fats are also a great addition to a third-trimester diet because they pack a lot of calories into a small serving. Add olives, sunflower seeds or raw almonds to your salad; snack on a quarter of an avocado; or enjoy natural almond or peanut butter on a slice of whole grain toast.
5. Carry a water bottle
It can be harder to hydrate late in pregnancy! To keep up with your 8-12 cups of water needs,6 aim to drink smaller amounts throughout the day rather than gulping down a glass at a time. Keep a water bottle on your desk or in your bag to make steady sipping a no-brainer.
Want more tips on how to meet your third-trimester nutrition needs? Schedule an appointment with a Teladoc registered dietitian.
As you are watching your due date approach, you may be wondering: Can eating certain foods make you go into labor?