Christal Sczebel, C.H.N. Nutrition in the Kitch
It’s the “Home Stretch”, with ups and downs, daydreams of finally holding your little babe coupled with worries about being a parent, returning fatigue along with tons of excitement… the Third Trimester. I personally have found my third trimester bittersweet being so excited to meet this little human but at the same time sad that soon the experience of pregnancy will be over. While pregnancy does have it’s ups and downs, the third trimester can actually be an enjoyable time with the right habits in play.
During the last 3 months of pregnancy women can experience lower energy levels, swelling and water retention, sleep issues, and a general feeling of discomfort as the baby grows larger with the nearing due date. While these symptoms can be bothersome, they can also be addressed with healthy habits to help combat their severity or even prevent them altogether.
When it comes to energy levels, it’s no surprise that they can be lower in these last few months. Most women at this point are carrying around an extra 20-40 lbs of weight, blood volume is at an all-time high, and just climbing a flight of stairs can leave you feeling out of breath. However, there are ways to naturally boost energy in the third trimester! Here are my top tips for increasing energy during the home stretch:
Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking. In the morning you might be feeling sluggish, especially if you didn’t get the best sleep, so waking up and fuelling no more than an hour later will rev up your energy levels and put some pep-in-your-step in the morning. Be sure to eat a protein rich breakfast with healthy whole grain carbohydrates, like a couple of these Easy Egg Muffins with a side of grain toast to help fuel your body and stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a longer lasting, steady energy throughout the morning.
Skip the coffee. While it might feel like the best idea to down a big cup of coffee in the morning, caffeine only adds to swelling (more about this below) and really doesn’t provide a sustained energy that lasts. Instead, have a big glass of water with a few lemon wedges… and if you really feel the need for caffeine, try Matcha Green Tea instead which is full of healthy antioxidants.
Keep Snacking. In the Third Trimester your body needs around 300 extra calories per day so make sure you enjoy some healthy snacks between meals to give your body the extra calories it needs and keep your blood sugar levels stable. When you skip snacks and go too long without eating your blood sugar levels drop and that can lead to a big crash in energy. Try some fruit with cottage cheese, natural trail mix, tuna salad and celery, or an Avocado Chicken Salad Bell Pepper Boat.
The next big woe that I personally was unable to escape completely in my third trimester was water retention and swelling. Additional blood and fluid in the body along with the added pressure and weight can create some serious “cankles”. However, while swelling is likely to be present no matter what, it doesn’t have to be excessive. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will prevent excess water retention keeping your body hydrated and swelling to a minimum. Along with water, watching your overall intake of sugary or refined carbohydrates like pastries, bread, candies, sugar-laden drinks, and white pasta will also help to prevent water retention as the body retains more water when there is an increased intake of carbohydrates in the diet. Stick to a moderate amount of only whole grains, some fruits, and lots of vegetables along with lean proteins and healthy fats. If you are really craving something carb-filled and indulgent, try a healthier option like one of these Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread Donuts made with almond and coconut flour. Lastly, excess salt and caffeine can also encourage swelling so keeping the cup-of-joe’s to a minimum and watch for added salt in packaged foods.
In the third trimester good sleep can be quite elusive. You might feel like you could sleep all day but when you actually hit the hay at night you might find it hard to get comfortable, drift off, or to stay asleep for longer than a couple hours at a time. This lack of sleep can be caused by several factors including stress and anxiety, physical discomfort, hormonal fluctuations, or the need to visit the bathroom a few times during the night due to fetal compression on the bladder. To help your body get into prime sleep mode I recommend avoiding the intake of caffeine any later than lunchtime, choosing water over caffeine more often, avoiding refined sugar or spicy foods in the evening, and consuming foods rich in magnesium, amino acids, and B vitamins such as nuts and seeds, whole grains, yogurt, bananas, and eggs. Try a couple of these Cocoa Banana Bread Protein Bites about 1 hour before bed and then enjoy a warm bath with epsom salts and a good book to send you off to sleep.
I hope these tips, tricks, and recipes will help you enjoy your third trimester to the fullest and at the same time set you up for a healthy postpartum as you ease into life with the newest member of your family!
Here are my updated Social Handles for the post since I changed the website to “Nutrition in the Kitch”: