Written by Ashwin Dewan and published on 23 July 2021.
The third trimester of pregnancy is the most difficult period for expecting mothers. The baby is due any moment and utmost care must be taken of the mother's health to prevent any untoward incidents.
After an exciting and physically taxing second trimester of pregnancy, Meena Apte now steps into the third trimester of pregnancy. Having successfully navigated the first trimester and second trimester of pregnancy, Meena is taking care that the final months of pregnancy will pass without any difficulties. Like the first two trimester, Meena is continuing to take a nutrient-rich diet along with regular exercise, which includes brisk walking daily.
Meena is not the only expecting mother who is getting ready for labour and a safe delivery. If you are an expecting mother entering her third trimester, you should do too! For, during the final three months, your baby is growing quickly. Your body is preparing for birth as well.
This article looks at what foods to eat and what exercises to do during the third trimester of pregnancy.
What you eat during the third trimester contributes to the wellbeing of the baby and helps in easy labour. A leading health website recommends a diet that is rich in fresh fruits, folate (spinach, lentils, orange juice, etc.), calcium (present in milk, yogurts, cheese and tofu), fibre (cereals, nuts, and seeds), and protein (present in fish, soy, eggs, lentils and peanut butter). In fact, eating a well-balanced diet is the cornerstone of good nutrition during this period. Although, the doctor will recommend vitamins, most of the nutrients will come from the food one eats.
1. Fruits: Fruits are a rich source of energy and vitamins, which makes it an important part of the diet during the third trimester. Choose fruits like berries, apples, guava, kiwi, and melons. Fruits also help to prevent constipation during pregnancy.
2. Eggs: Are loaded with many essential nutrients and filled with minerals, proteins and fats. Try to eat properly cooked eggs for the essential fats required during the third semester. Make sure you do not have raw or uncooked eggs. If consumed in a controlled manner, eggs can provide enough proteins for healthy growth. Additionally, the Omega-3 fatty acid along with choline in eggs support healthy brain development.
3. Dried fruits: Nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnut, etc. provide essential vitamins and fibre required for a healthy diet.
4. Fish: Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which contributes to the healthy brain development of the baby. Always eat cooked fish to ensure the foetus does not suffer from growth-related issues. Fish with high mercury content is to be strictly avoided.
5. Yogurt: Plain yogurt is good for pregnant women in the third trimester. It is rich in nutrients and provides healthy fat as well.
6. Lentils: Lentils are a rich source of protein and fibre that is needed for normal development. Include lentils in you diet as soup, salad, or stew. If you are buying soup, check the salt content, and heat it thoroughly before consumption.
7. Avocado: Avocados are one of the best food to have for pregnant women. Full of good fats and high in dietary fibre, avocados are also a rich source of folate. Folate is important during pregnancy as they can reduce the risk of birth defects.
Foods to avoid during the third semester:
There are certain foods that might pose a problem to both the expecting mother and the unborn baby during the third semester. Remember to avoid foods like raw and uncooked fish and meat, mouldy cheese, and excess caffeine.
Information about pregnancy is readily available these days. Most women are well-informed about their pregnancies. However, there might still be facts you might not know about pregnancy. Go through the below ClipBook to know facts about pregnancy.
With the belly growing rapidly week after week, you may not feel like doing anything, especially during the uncomfortable and anxiety-filled third semester. Plus, you are tired and exhausted. However, women who exercise during pregnancy derive a lot of health benefits including improved cardiovascular fitness, improved mood, and weight control.
Before scrolling down to read about the various exercises to do during the third trimester, remember safety is essential. Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise.
1. Walking and jogging: One of the best exercises that pregnant women can do is walking. Plus, it is inexpensive and requires little equipment. Brisk walking strengthens the bones and muscles and improves balance as well. Plus, for expecting mothers who can, slow jogging is also a good option unless it leads to certain health issues and discomfort. Ensure you run on a flat surface and in a place where you can always rest whenever you feel tired. If your body does not feel good, slow down jogging or stick to walking instead.
Walking: You can start with a few minutes of walking and increase the time as you get comfortable. Twenty to thirty minutes a day, three to five times a week is a healthy walking schedule to follow during the second trimester.
Jogging: Aim for a 10-minute slow jog on a plain surface, three to four times a week.
2. Swimming and aqua aerobics: If you have a pool in your neighbourhood or in your building, swimming can be a great exercise to do during the third trimester of pregnancy. Water takes the pressure off tired legs, backs and helps prevent overheating. Besides, swimming is one of the best and safe exercises to do during pregnancy. The water is soothing, there is no high impact or strain on the body, and an expecting mother can build strength and aerobic capacity at the same time.
While swimming during the second trimester, make sure you take care not to twist your abdomen. Also, monitor your energy limits and if you feel tired, get out of the pool and take rest.
3. Yoga: Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise during the second trimester of pregnancy. It strengthens muscles, reduces pregnancy-related pains especially in the lower back and controls blood pressure. However, ensure that you do so under proper guidance.
Avoid poses that put too much pressure on your body or make you feel dizzy. Not all asanas are recommended during pregnancy. Hence, please ensure you are properly guided by an expert.
4. Squats: One of the most important exercises to do during the third trimester is squats. The full squat position, a passive pose, causes the pelvic floor muscles to engage. It enables you to use gravity for bringing the baby down into the pelvis and helping it open.
Try to perform squats for 10 to 20 seconds. Avoid doing squats if you experience any pain in the pubic area.
Pregnancy diet does not mean eating for two. Opt for nutritious food choices and eat a well-proportioned diet all through your pregnancy. The article below looks at healthy food choices for pregnant women.
So, here you go! As you get ready to embrace motherhood, we wish you all the best for a wonderful journey ahead. But, at the same time, please eat healthy and don't forget to exercise.
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With inputs from Dr. Sowmya Raghavan, MBBS, MD, DGO, DNB, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Apollo Medical Centre, Chennai.