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Third Trimester Foods During Pregnancy: Here’s What You Should Eat

The Third Trimester of Pregnancy: What to Expect

Usually, pregnancies last for a total of 40 weeks and the third and final trimester starts around the 28th week. During the third trimester of pregnancy, diet and proper care are crucial for a healthy delivery, as the final trimester can prove to be emotionally and physically challenging for the mother. By week 37, a baby is considered to be full-term and may be born at any moment. It is important to maintain the mother’s and the baby’s good health and to be aware of what should be done, what should be avoided, foods that are beneficial, and about foods to avoid in the 3rd trimester.

The third trimester diet should ideally be increased by 150-200 calories as compared to the second trimester diet, to support the continuing development and growth of the foetus. The mother will keep gaining weight during the third trimester as well, but it is important to ensure that the gain is only around 0.5-1 kg per week.

Importance of the Third Trimester Diet

It is crucial to maintain a proper diet during the 3rd pregnancy trimester, as this is a time of rapid growth and the baby’s nutritional needs are at their peak. As the baby’s movements start becoming stronger because of bone development, calcium becomes a crucial nutrient to include in the third trimester diet. Consuming the right quantity of healthy foods in the 3rd trimester is important for the proper development of the baby’s bones, brain, and other organs and can help avoid several complications down the line, like UTIs, anaemia, gestational diabetes, or the baby being born with birth defects. As symptoms like fatigue are likely to make a reappearance in the third trimester, healthy foods that are nutrition-rich can also help mothers maintain their energy levels.

Foods to Eat in the Third Trimester

During the third trimester of pregnancy, the diet will have to be modified to meet the nutritional needs of the mother and the foetus. Foods in the third trimester should be nutrient-dense and healthy. During this time, the mother will require increased amounts of iron and protein, which the body needs to maintain the increased blood volume, for a healthy placenta, and to support the growth and development of the baby. Ideally, a 3rd pregnancy trimester diet should include foods like:

  • Vitamins

Vitamin A is important for the formation of the baby’s skin, bones, and vision, and can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, etc. Vitamin C is required by the body for absorbing iron and helps the development of healthy gums, bones, and teeth. Broccoli, tomatoes, kiwis, and oranges are good sources of vitamin C. Other foods that can be added to the diet in the 3e trimester of pregnancy include bananas., whole grain cereals, etc. for vitamin B6, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, etc. for vitamin B12, and salmon, cheese, kale, etc. for vitamin D and calcium.

  • Choline

This nutrient is essential for the development of the spinal cord and brain of the baby. Prenatal vitamins and supplements generally do not have choline, but cauliflower, peanuts, potatoes, meat, milk, and fish are sources of choline that can be considered for the third trimester diet.

  • Iron

Iron is needed to form red blood cells that carry oxygen to the baby. Kidney beans, lentils, seafood, spinach, lean meat, peas, etc. are some iron-enriched foods that can be considered.

  • Folic Acid

Folic acid helps protect the baby’s spinal cord and brain against the development of neural tube defects. It is also required by the mother’s body for supporting the growth of the baby, and foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts, flour, rice, bread, etc. are some good options for folic acid.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Found in foods like flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, etc., omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the development of the baby’s brain.

  • Protein

Helping the baby grow and supporting its body in making blood, proteins can be found in seeds, soy products, lean meat, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, etc.

  • Fibre

Whole grain foods like quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice, etc. are a good source of fibre, which helps provide the mother with the energy they require during the third trimester and helps relieve symptoms like constipation.

  • Hydration

Staying hydrated is crucial as it can help avoid common pregnancy complications such as constipation and urinary tract infections. Drinking a minimum of 8 to 10 glasses of water daily is generally recommended, but there are other options as well, like coconut water, herbal tea, and fresh fruit juice, which can also help meet hydration requirements.

Foods to Avoid in the 3rd Trimester

  • High-Caffeine Beverages

The consumption of caffeine may lead to several issues and may also impact the growth of the baby.

  • Raw or Undercooked Meat, Seafood, and Eggs

Raw or undercooked meat, fish, and eggs can cause food-borne diseases like listeria or salmonella.

  • Unpasteurised Dairy Products

Unpasteurised dairy products can lead to several bacterial infections or diseases.  

  • Processed Foods

Fast food, chips, and sweets are generally heavy in calories, salt, and harmful fats and not very nutritious.

  • Fish with High Mercury Content

Certain species, like sharks, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel, are high in mercury, which can have quite a negative impact on the baby's growing nervous system.

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