For many women, eating large meals can become uncomfortable close to their due date, as babies grow to take up every last inch of space they can (often at the expense of their mama’s organs). But not gaining enough weight overall throughout pregnancy — and especially the third trimester — can put babies at risk of being born too small and developing lifelong issues. If eating has become a chore, it’s OK to eat smaller, lighter meals throughout the day, so long as you’re getting enough to eat overall.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends women in their third trimester get an extra 450 calories — for a grand total of 2,400 calories — a day, so long as they are a healthy weight and get less than 30 minutes of exercise daily. To make sure you get enough of the vitamins and nutrients you need during this last stretch, it’s important to try and eat the recommended daily servings of the major food groups (particularly grains, veggies, fruits, dairy, proteins) with limited amounts of fats or oils.
Third Trimester Food Recommendations
8 ounces of grains — As both you and your baby grow, you’ll need more energy, and grains can help provide that. While 8 ounces might seem like a lot, it adds up quickly, with one slice of bread or 0.5 cup of rice equalling about 1 ounce.
3 cups of vegetables — Like in your second trimester, you’ll want to take in at least 3 cups of veggies a day. An easy way to do this is to try to eat one cup of veggies with each meal, or (even easier) blend them up with your servings of fruit to make yummy smoothies in the morning and afternoon. Just keep in mind, however, that 2 cups of leafy greens is equivalent to one cup of other vegetables like carrots, so plan accordingly.
2 cups of fruit — Fruits can be great sources of both vitamins and water, but you don’t need much to get to the recommended amount. A half a grapefruit in the morning, and a pear in the afternoon are enough to do the trick.
3 cups of dairy — If your morning smoothie isn’t tiding you over for very long, try adding in some low-fat dairy, like yogurt or milk. Cap off the day with a cup of cottage cheese for a snack and 0.3 cup of shredded cheese in your pasta at dinner, and you’ll easily meet your recommended daily amount.
6.5 ounces of protein — Different protein sources have different benefits, so it’s important to get a variety. Try to get at least 2-3 servings of fish a week to get the brain-building benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood, as well as a few servings of red meat (for iron), beans, and nuts.
8 teaspoons of fats and oils — You don’t need a lot of fat and oil in your diet, but incorporating healthy fats into your daily meals can help keep that pregnancy hanger at bay. The best sources for good-for-you fats are avocados, nuts, olives, and fish.
Note: These servings and calorie recommendations are rough guidelines intended for women who were a healthy weight prior to pregnancy. If you are overweight or have questions or concerns about your personal weight gain while pregnant, please talk to your doctor for information and guidance on what a healthy diet would look like you for you and your baby.