NUTRITION FOR YOU
In this trimester your baby will be gaining weight faster than ever, but it is not the quantity of what you eat that is important – it is the quality – and there are some key nutrients that both you and your baby will need in the next few months.
Carry on eating your basic healthy diet, but pay particular attention to the following:
- Protein is more important than ever now as your baby builds muscles and tissue. To supply the varying kinds of protein that your baby needs for a range of body functions, you should aim to eat a number of different combinations of amino acids.
- Glycine is an amino acid that is essential for growth, and your baby receives it via the placenta in your bloodstream.
- Iron is vital and you need to build up your stores in preparation for labour. It will help give you energy and boost your immune system to enable you to fight off infection and will also help to prevent premature labour.
- Vitamin C should be consumed alongside iron-rich foods as it helps your body absorb the iron. You also need to boost your immune system and help your body heal after delivery. Vitamin C aids the production of collagen, connective tissue and the repair of blood vessels.
- Zinc is needed for your baby’s growth but it is vital for you too. A pregnant woman needs around 20mcg of zinc per day, but it can be difficult to get enough from your normal diet, so a supplement can be important.
- Vitamin K is routinely given as an injection to newborns as it plays an essential role in the clotting of blood. However, you can boost your baby’s supply in advance of birth by eating foods that are rich in this vitamin such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
NUTRITION FOR YOUR BABY
From week 28-40 you have a crucial window of opportunity to help your baby’s brain begin to develop to its full potential:
The brain needs a distinct set of nutrients, quite different to the rest of the body’s requirements. Her or his bones mainly need calcium and muscles are powered by protein, but the brain needs fats. More than 60% of the brain will be composed of fatty acids, but your baby cannot make essential fatty acids (EFAs) herself or himself – they must come from you.
Fats are needed for the smooth and rapid transmission of signals between nerve cells. There are basically two types that are crucial to brain function: linoleum acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). One of the crucial forms of omega-3 is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is important for cognitive brain function, vision and heart health, and may also increase your baby’s birth weight.
Choline is another ‘smart fat’ found in the brain that is needed for the production of cell membranes and is linked to the memory and learning centres of the brain. It can be found in a number of foods, but the richest source is egg yolk.
It is advisable for all pregnant women to think about taking an omega-3 supplement as it can be hard to receive adequate levels needed for your baby’s brain development just through your diet.