The third trimester is marked by little feet kicking your ribs, going to the bathroom all the time, and just feeling incredibly big. I am getting pretty tired of hitting counters, cabinets, doors, etc. with my big belly. This is a time of preparation gathering up the last items you need to welcome your child into the world and, above all, patience. I find it helpful to remind myself the baby really does need those last few weeks and days to grow and develop before they are ready to make their grand entrance. Part of your preparations should continue to include healthy habits as you get ready for the work of labor and delivery and the first few weeks postpartum.
- Eat nutrient rich meats. The last trimester the baby needs lots of DHA and your iron requirements really jump. Eat fatty fish several times a week to get more DHA (think salmon, sardines, and herring). Red meat and organ meats (livers and hearts) are amazing sources of heme-iron, although I will admit I really don’t like organ meats so I just take a supplement (see below).
- Be mindful of the bump. The baby takes up a lot of room now and it quite heavy, which can throw you off balance. Just be careful when exercising and stay away from twisting, bending over, and lifting heavy items (like your toddler).
- More DHA! The baby’s brain and eyes go through a final growth spurt in the third trimester and baby needs a lot of DHA. To be sure you’re getting adequate amounts of DHA, a supplement is really best. The Prenatal DHA has 600 mg of DHA per serving, but you should consider taking 900 mg (3 pills) of DHA in the last trimester. I am currently taking 3 Prenatal DHA softgels and 1 teaspoon of Peak Omega-3 Liquid a day so baby gets enough DHA for their brain and eyes and mommy gets enough EPA for the back aches.
- Iron. Many women become anemic during the third trimester so you should consider an iron supplement. You can have your doctor or midwife do a simple blood test for anemia especially if you are feeling very tired all the time. Iron supplements can cause nausea and constipation. There are also a couple different forms of iron salts that can be used to make iron supplements. The most bio-available and gentlest form is ferrous gluconate. The liquid, herbal iron supplements are generally agreed (by myself and friends) to have the fewest side-effects. I would recommend trying Floradix Iron and Herbs or Gaia PlantForce Liquid Iron.
For more information about the importance of DHA while pregnant and nursing, see our blog post by Gretchen Vannice, MS, RDN.