Optimum Nutrition – Trimester 3

(The third trimester is 28-40 weeks gestation)

In the third and final trimester of your pregnancy, as your baby reaches full term you have to watch your nutrition even more closely.  The foods you will eat now will impact your baby’s health long after she is born. Along with this you also have to prepare your body for birthing.

Just as the earlier two trimesters, you need to continue eating healthy and nutritious meals. In the third trimester, you now need 400 extra calories daily. You can get your extra 400 calories in a variety of healthy ways:

  • 2 slices of wholemeal toast with small bowl of hung curd dip.
  • A medium sized boiled sweet potato chaat with chopped tomato, onion, youghurt.
  • 1 cup Rajma/chowli / chole with small bowl of rice / 2 phulkas
  • 2 phulkas with a bowl of vegetable
  • 1 Jowar / whole wheat Pancake with 1tsp honey spread served with a fresh fruit.
  • 2 Â small Methi / Palak / Carrot Parathas with a bowl of curds
  • Chicken / lean red meat (size of your palm) and a bowl of vegetables.
  • 250ml of fruit smoothie made with milk or a yoghurt and a blend of available fruits.

In the third trimester the baby gains a considerable amount of weight, stretching the mother’s abdomen to the maximum. As a result you may not be able to eat large meals.

It is advisable to divide the meals into several small meals and snacks so that you eat every 3 hours. The average calorie intake is approximately 2500 calories a day.

Find below the key nutritional requirements during the third trimester:

It is best to continue to have a diet rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and cooked dried beans and peas. These foods help avoid constipation and fatigue and supply ample amounts of vitamins and minerals, while being low in fat and thus helping to regulate weight gain.


Protein requirements are at an all-time high in the last trimester. Proteins are important for the baby’s muscles and tissues. Extra protein is also needed for labor, delivery and breast-feeding.


Rapid bone growth makes calcium a vital nutrient now. 80% of foetal calcium accretion occurs during the 3rd trimester and the calcium requirements of your baby shoots to 250mg/day. However, to meet this high demand at the end of gestation, your body must have enough calcium in stock early during the pregnancy. Hence it is essential you start getting enough calcium from the moment you realize you are pregnant or ideally as soon as you consider trying for a baby.

In the third trimester atleast 1100 mg of Calcium is required.

Low-fat milk, cottage cheese and yogurt provide additional calcium.

Omega -3

In addition to your basic diet needs, during the third trimester, your infant’s rapid brain development will benefit from eating foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids and choline.

Omega 3 supplements and fish are good sources of Omega-3 fats.

Fats & Oils

Focus on fats that come from whole foods (like nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, eggs, yogurt and cheese), rather than the processed saturated and trans fats you’ll find in packaged foods. Whole foods supply vitamins and minerals, along with healthy fat.

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) in the diet also affect development of the foetus. One of the most important EFAs is called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is found in fish (and also in breast milk).

DHA has a biological role in the structure and function of the brain, retina and nervous system. The brain of the developing baby grows rapidly during the last trimester and is dependent upon the mother’s intake of DHA. Various studies have shown that increasing the mother’s intake of DHA through supplementation with fish oil (oil from fish is high in DHA) results in higher blood levels of DHA in the newborn. The brain continues to grow and develop rapidly for the first year and an adequate supply of DHA is necessary over this period.

Vegetarian sources for Omega 3, Omega 6 and DHA include, Flax seeds, Sesame seeds, Beans, cabbage, cauliflower, berries, mango, mustard oil, herbs & spices, honeydew melon, seaweed and leafy greens.


Requirements for iron increase markedly particularly during the third trimester. It is essential for the production of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to all tissues in the body including the placenta. Meat sources of iron are well absorbed in the body. Vegetarians are at greater risk of iron deficiency in pregnancy than meat eaters. Vitamin C increases the absorption of the iron found in vegetable sources.

Fruits and Vegetables
Continue to consume 2-3 fruit servings and 3-4 vegetable servings each day. This group provides important nutrition during pregnancy like vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre.

Try to eat seasonal and locally grown fruits & vegetables.

Vitamin A, copper, zinc and the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are also very important for the pregnant woman as she approaches labor and delivery.

Water is also very important for pregnant women. It constitutes half the body weight. It is essential fluid to digest and absorb other nutrients, remove waste products from the body, regulate body temperature and perform the millions of metabolic processes essential to life.

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