It's been a long road, but you're nearly there. At seven months of pregnancy, or between 28 and 31 weeks, you've reached the third trimester and are eagerly anticipating your bundle of joy. At the same time, you're gaining more weight than you have previously, and it's tempting to try to temper your weight gain. Rather than trying to diet during pregnancy, however, structure your diet around the needs of your growing, soon-to-arrive baby.
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Manage Your Caloric Intake
Your baby is growing fast, so don’t be surprised if your stomach rumbles more often during the seventh month of pregnancy. At this point in your pregnancy, you should gain 1 pound a week, according to “FitPregnancy” magazine. But you don’t need to go overboard with eating -- you should consume about 450 extra calories daily during the third trimester, says the BabyCenter website, as long as you’re at a normal, healthy weight. Avoid the temptation to limit the number of calories you eat to curb weight gain -- the baby needs these extra calories for proper growth.
Eat Plenty of Iron and Protein
During the third trimester, your body carries more blood, according to registered dietitian Paola Mora in “Portland Family” magazine, so you need extra iron to the tune of 27 milligrams a day. Failure to consume enough could lead to anemia, premature delivery or hemorrhage during delivery. Iron is plentiful in red meat, poultry, enriched rice, seeds and beans. When you eat these, you’ll also be getting a dose of protein -- at this point in your pregnancy, the amino acids in the protein help your baby grow rapidly. The American Pregnancy Association recommends eating 75 to 100 grams of protein a day.
Don't Neglect Calcium and Magnesium
Although calcium is important through the entire pregnancy, the third trimester is when the calcium in your baby’s skeleton is arranged, according to Dr. Michael Hobaugh in “Portland Family.” The American Pregnancy Association recommends at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day; find it in dairy foods such as yogurt, milk and cheese, as well as salmon, oatmeal and fortified orange juice. Add magnesium, which not only helps your body absorb the calcium but also might help relax your muscles, relieve leg cramps and prevent preterm labor. You need about 350 to 400 milligrams a day, and it’s found in black beans, artichokes, barley, pumpkin seeds, oat bran and almonds.
Learn About DHA and Folic Acid
If you, like most parents, want your baby to have a strong, smart brain, eat plenty of DHA, an essential fatty acid, during the third trimester -- according to dietitian Gina Hill in “Portland Family,” this compound is linked to better cognition in infants. You’ll want to get about 200 milligrams a day through sources such as fortified foods like eggs, milk and juice. Folic acid is also vital during your entire pregnancy because it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. Eat 600 to 800 micrograms a day; sources include dark green leafy vegetables, fruits such as oranges and strawberries and grains including oatmeal.
Continue Healthy Habits
The finish line is nearly in sight, so there's no need to change the strategies that have been helping you win the race. As you have through your entire pregnancy, focus on eating fresh, whole foods -- rather than processed or junk foods -- that provide a wide variety of nutrients. It might be uncomfortable to exercise in the third trimester in the same way that you did prepregnancy, but don't stop moving entirely. Gentle exercise such as swimming, walking or prenatal yoga can help slow down rapid weight gain and keep you in tip-top shape for delivery.