The third trimester is an exciting one! You’ve overcome first-trimester nausea, dealt with heartburn in your second trimester, and, although you’re faced with fatigue, you’re also close to the D-Day. Very soon, your baby will be here. To ensure your pregnancy progresses well, you’ll need to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet.
Your diet must have all the nutrients your changing body needs and cater to your growing baby’s needs. Before we explore healthy pregnancy meals, let’s look at your baby’s development at 28 weeks and what body changes you should expect from now.
Your Baby’s Development At 28 Weeks
Your baby is now around 10 inches long and weighs just over 900g (8). Your baby can soon see (or at least detect light), hear, and recognize your voice! His or her hands and feet are covered with a white, waxy substance called the vernix caseosa, which will help protect their skin during birth (17).
The baby can suck his or her thumb and make facial expressions, including a frown when unhappy about something. To stimulate the synapses of your baby’s brain, try reading aloud to him or her every day (15).
There’s now less space for your baby to roll around. In search of a comfortable position, they’ll start to pull their arms and legs up towards their chest: the classic fetal position.
Your Body At 28 Weeks
Lots of changes are taking place at this stage, including:
The biggest change you’ll notice in the third trimester of your pregnancy is digestive discomfort. Gastric reflux is common, and you may also find that your bowel movements come with a lot more frequency. You might also experience bloating (1). The combination of pregnancy hormones and pressure from your growing baby can lead to these symptoms. You might find that simple changes like cutting off spicy foods will make your stomach feel less churned.
Other ways to alleviate the digestive discomfort at this stage of pregnancy include:
- Eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly
- Sitting upright while eating and afterward
- Choosing easy to digest foods
- Avoiding tight clothing and postures that put extra pressure on your stomach
Food choice is very important at this stage of pregnancy as you need to maintain a healthy weight gain during the third trimester when your baby is gaining weight rapidly as well. You should try to gain 10- 15 kgs throughout your pregnancy, and you’ll need to make sure that you’re eating healthy foods in your diet which contain all the nutrients and calories that you’ll need.
Fatigue might be another issue that you’ll have to combat at this stage (5). The fatigue in your body might be related to a multitude of factors, including the weight you’ve gained over the past few weeks. Try to alternate energy-intensive work with more leisurely activities like reading or watching TV. Go for regular walks and try to schedule some rest time too.
What Should You Do For A Healthy 28 Week Pregnancy Diet?
If you’re ready to start planning a healthy diet for yourself at this stage of pregnancy, here’s what you need to do:
At 28 weeks, you’ll need a few more calories than you did earlier in your pregnancy. While deciding your calorie intake, keep in mind the number of calories a day that gave you the right amount of nutrients and energy for your body before you were pregnant. That may have been around 1800 to 2000 calories, but varies by individual.
Furthermore, supporting a third trimester fetus requires about 450 calories per day for proper healthy growth (12). So, add these calories to your normal daily intake to know how much you should eat daily.
It’s important to listen to your body while pregnant. You might feel more hungry than usual, and this is okay. Simply snack on healthy foods such as nuts, dairy, and fruits. This is not the time to restrict your calorie intake to maintain weight unless your doctor has advised you to do so for your health. If you have high blood pressure that could lead to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, edema, or anemia, your doctor may put certain restrictions on your diet.
How To Structure Your Diet For A Healthy Pregnancy At Week 28?
During your third trimester, you’ll find it hard to cope with nausea or heartburn symptoms. But don’t fret! This phase too shall pass. Eat small meals frequently throughout the day rather than three heavy meals. Eat small amounts of food at a time to avoid nausea. If possible, eat small amounts of protein and carbohydrate-rich foods together. Keep some healthy snacks around between meals for that extra energy boost.
Here are some diet recommendations you should follow during your third trimester:
Eat Small Meals With Frequent Snacks In Between
Try to get four or five small meals in a day rather than three heavy ones. Eat every 2 hours, but keep the quantities small and try avoiding lying down after eating as it may lead to discomfort in breathing.
Include Protein And Carbohydrate At Each Meal
In most cases, weight gain during pregnancy is healthy and advisable. You’re not expected to cut out any food groups.
Folate Is Vital
Take A prenatal vitamin; eat a healthy diet rich in folate and other vitamins so that your baby’s growth is not jeopardized. No caffeine or alcohol. This can cause irregular heartbeats, which may be harmful to you or the unborn baby.
Limit Sugar And Salt Intake
Try to avoid foods with added sugar content such as packaged desserts, canned juices, etc. They add no nutritional value but only increase your calorie intake without giving you any benefit. Save room for the more nutritious foods.
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Foods To Eat When Pregnant At 28 Weeks
Here are some of the things you should definitely include in your pregnancy diet at 28 weeks for a healthy body and a growing baby!
At this stage of pregnancy, magnesium is very important for your body because it helps in relaxing the muscles and reduces cramping (11). Magnesium can be found in pumpkin seeds, spinach, kale, legumes, whole grains, nuts, etc.
The more you eat iron-rich foods during pregnancy, the better. It will prevent anemia which causes fatigue apart from other complications (10). Iron is especially important now, because your baby is building up their iron stores for the first months of life. You should include red meat or poultry twice a week, dark green leafy vegetables (kale), blackstrap molasses, dried fruits like apricots, and prunes as they have high levels of iron. Your prenatal vitamin should also contain iron.
If you start taking calcium supplements at this stage of your pregnancy, it may not only help in keeping your bones healthy but also lower the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes (4). Just don’t take them at the same time as your prenatal vitamin, because calcium and iron compete for absorption. Sources of calcium include tofu, black-eyed peas, broccoli, low-fat dairy products, and salmon. One serving of milk contains 300 mg of calcium which is half the daily requirement for pregnant women.
Eating healthy fats like oily fish or fish oil supplements will help in reducing nausea symptoms during pregnancy. Healthy fats are also needed for your baby’s brain development, so make sure you take a good amount of them in your diet (14). Sources of healthy fats include avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and oily fish like salmon.
Protein-rich foods will help you gain a healthy amount of weight that is crucial during pregnancy. A decent amount of protein helps with fetal development as well as your health (13). Eat lean meats like chicken breast or fish such as salmon, which also contain iron and selenium that is vital for a healthy pregnancy.
Complex carbohydrates are less likely to cause spikes in your blood sugar. They also give you the energy to perform the day-to-day tasks (16). Choose whole grains like wheat bread, cereals, and brown rice over simple or processed carbs.
Green leafy vegetables are a rich source of vitamin A and folate. They also help in maintaining a healthy heart and reducing your risk of diabetes (6). You should aim to eat 2 cups of green leafy vegetables every day to fulfill your folate needs. Good choices are kale, spinach, and collard greens.
Foods like cheese, milk and yogurt should be included in your diet to maintain the necessary calcium levels of your body. These foods are also good sources of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins, which help you have the best possible nutrition throughout your pregnancy.
Fruits like oranges with their high Vitamin C content can prevent birth defects, so include them in your diet during this stage. Other fruits containing fiber like bananas are excellent for digestion and overall health but keep away from dried fruit if you find it difficult to digest. Limit juices that may cause heartburn problems but drink plenty of water as it improves digestion and keeps you well-hydrated.
Nuts And Seeds
Eat nuts such as almonds or seeds such as sunflowers as they contain Vitamin E and other essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy.
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Tips To Remember For Your 28 Week Pregnancy Diet
Here are a few tips to help you sail smoothly to the end of your pregnancy:
Avoid Trigger Foods
Foods that are known to cause heartburn include fried foods, caffeine-containing drinks like coffee, colas, etc. Avoid these foods altogether if you wish to stay away from this problem.
Drinking too much caffeinated coffee, tea, or other beverages could cause premature contractions. Caffeine also interferes with the absorption of other vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron, which affects your baby’s development. It is recommended that pregnant women limit caffeine to 200 mg per day or less (3). Sources of caffeine include coffee, black tea, energy drinks, chocolate, etc.
Avoid Processed Foods And Fast Food
These foods have a high level of sodium which is unsafe during pregnancy because it makes you retain water causing swelling in various parts of your body. If you have gestational hypertension, you need to be especially careful. For this reason, junk food should be top of your list of what not to eat when pregnant.
It is not at all safe for you or your baby. The risks associated with consuming alcohol during pregnancy are numerous and there is no known safe amount (2).
Your Body Is Changing At Every Stage Of Your Pregnancy
Getting enough rest is important in every trimester of your pregnancy but most especially during the third trimester when the size of your uterus increases to accommodate your growing baby! Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Physical Activity Is Important
Exercise daily, even if it is only a walk for 30 minutes, but avoid strenuous activities throughout the pregnancy period since they may cause complications (7). Do not lift heavy objects, but try to remain active through gentle to moderate exercise.
The Bottom Line
You have almost reached the end of your pregnancy journey so remember to take proper care of yourself at every stage of your pregnancy by staying healthy with a good diet, plenty of rest, and regular exercise. If you follow these tips along with some relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, then there is no doubt that you will experience a happy delivery without any complications!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 3rd trimester pregnancy: What to expect (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Alcohol Use in Pregnancy (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy (n.d., americanpregnancy.org)
- Calcium: A Nutrient in Pregnancy (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Coping Steps for Fatigue During Pregnancy (n.d., americanpregnancy.org)
- Daily Snack Containing Leafy Green Vegetables, Fruit, and Milk before and during Pregnancy Prevents Gestational Diabetes in a Randomized, Controlled Trial in Mumbai, India (2016, academic.oup.com)
- Exercise During Pregnancy (2019, acog.org)
- Fetal development: The 3rd trimester (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Gastrointestinal diseases during pregnancy: what does the gastroenterologist need to know? (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Iron Supplementation during Pregnancy and Infancy: Uncertainties and Implications for Research and Policy (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Magnesium in pregnancy | Nutrition Reviews | Oxford Academic (2016, academic.oup.com)
- Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Role of Dietary Fat in Child Nutrition and Development: Summary of an ASNS Workshop (1999, academic.oup.com)
- The Importance of Baby Talk: Tips on How to Talk to Your Baby (2020, webmd.com)
- Types of Carbohydrates Intake during Pregnancy and Frequency of a Small for Gestational Age Newborn: A Case-Control Study (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF VERNIX CASEOSA (2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)