Later months

It’s exciting during these last few months of pregnancy to think that you will soon be meeting your baby. But if your back is aching and you are finding it hard to sleep, it can feel like a long wait.

There’s a lot going on during this time - your baby’s weight will treble as the brain and skeleton grow rapidly, the lungs and other organs mature, and your baby lays down fat stores for the first days of life on the outside.

Fuel for the 3rd trimester

You do need some extra calories – about 200 kcal a day during the 3rd trimester to support this growth, but you won’t need more than this because your body adapts to help you get the extra nutrients you need. (The low GI snacks we suggest in "Avoiding the junk" are good options for the last trimester.)

Your body will have been accumulating the additional long-chain omega-3’s ready to fuel the rapid brain growth that occurs in these last few months, and your digestive system will adapt to absorb about 50% more iron than it did at the beginning of your pregnancy. Your body is naturally very clever!

Trouble with heartburn

If you’ve suffered with this during your pregnancy, be warned that it may increase during the last few months as your stomach becomes squished by your growing baby.

You may be able to help prevent it by having smaller portions and less fluid at mealtimes so you don’t become too full. Sitting up straight when you eat and for a time afterwards may also help.

In the 3rd trimester if your tummy is feeling squashed, smaller regular, light meals can be more comfortable than big, heavy ones.

If you do suffer from severe heartburn, it’s best to talk to your midwife or doctor about a suitable medicine.

Try this recipe

These tasty granary rolls topped with creamy spinach are delicious for breakfast, lunch or supper.

Fact or fiction?

Eating curry will bring on labour.


Fact or fiction?

This is a myth. However, if you did eat a curry so unbearably hot that it caused stomach cramps and diarrhoea, it might also trigger contractions. That said, you wouldn’t be in a very good state for labour. So if your due date is a while off, don’t worry that your normal curry is going to set off labour. And if your due date is soon and you are impatient to meet your baby, don’t expect your curry to work miracles!

Labour bag snacks & drinks

It’s good to have some snacks and drinks ready for labour whether you plan to give birth at home or in hospital.

Keeping hydrated is important, and although lots of women don’t feel like eating when they are in labour, you might want to have something to hand to help keep your energy levels up. Even if you don’t eat them, your birthing partner probably will!

Now baby is here

The first few months with a new-born baby can pass in a blur, and it can be hard to establish a routine and look after yourself. Your body has been through a lot, so as well as resting and sleeping, it’s important to eat well and drink plenty of fluids to help your recovery, and your milk supply if you’re breastfeeding. Getting out to the shops can be an all day mission and even completing an online order can be a challenge so this isn’t the time for fancy food but simple, healthy snacks and meals that will fuel you through the day - and night.

Fuel for you & your baby

Breakfast is really important after a wakeful night. Lunch too, especially if you are breastfeeding, as you want your baby to get as much milk as possible during the day so they, and you, will hopefully sleep at night.

It’s good to base these meals around starchy carbohydrates like a big jacket potato or wholegrain pasta salad. If you find you are busy feeding at lunchtime, try to make a sandwich with thick sliced granary bread earlier in the day and pop it in the fridge so it’s there when you need it.

Top tip

Breastfeeding can be thirsty work so make sure you have a glass of water to hand when you sit down to feed. Smoothies made with yogurt or milk are good too, as they provide some of the extra calcium you’ll need.

“I am certainly eating more than before I was pregnant and tend to find I want to eat more in the morning and during the day. Overall I’ve found I have eaten more through my whole pregnancy to stop me feeling sick and keep my energy up.”


Try this recipe

A quick and easy supper that tastes delicious, includes oily fish, and contains all the nutrients your growing baby needs if you’re breastfeeding.

Fact or fiction?

If you eat a healthy diet your breast milk will be more nutritious.


Fact or fiction?

The amount of different fatty acids in breast milk can vary. Women who eat oily fish produce milk with higher levels of long-chain omega-3's. Vitamin D levels also vary, and it's recommended you take a supplement that contains 10 micrograms (μg). Vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells, and enables us to release energy from the food we eat. If you eat a varied diet you and your baby will get enough. Vegans and women who eat little animal produce can miss out, so it’s important for them to take a supplement.

The joy of eggs!

The enjoyment of a runny poached or fried egg after months of going without cannot be overestimated for many new mums. Eggs generally are a good fast food in the first few weeks as they contain protein and almost all the essential vitamins and minerals you need.


The joy of eggs!

Iodine helps make the thyroid hormones which help keep cells and your metabolic rate healthy. If you’re breastfeeding and don’t get enough iodine and vitamin D, then your baby won’t get enough of them from your milk, so it’s important to include them in your diet. Easy healthy dishes include scrambled eggs, omelettes, frittatas and Spanish tortillas.

2 eggs will provide half of your daily vitamin D, and a third of your iodine needs.

More calcium, please!

If you’re breastfeeding, your calcium requirement goes from about 700 mg of calcium a day to 1,250 – that’s the equivalent of a pint and a half of milk a day!

If you don’t get enough calcium, your baby will be fine as your breast milk contains all the calcium they need, but you could be risking your own future bone health.

Milk and dairy foods, like yogurt and cheese are rich in calcium. You can also try tofu, almonds, curly kale, and tinned sardines which have lower levels.

“Muesli with yogurt was a regular bedtime snack: quick, easy, tasty and it helped keep me going through the nighttime feeds.”


Fact or fiction?

If you eat spicy flavours when you are breastfeeding, they will pass through to your milk.


Fact or fiction?

Strong flavours like spices or garlic will pass through to your breast milk but this is a good thing. By exposing your baby to different flavours early on, it may help reduce the chances of fussy eating later. But don’t feel the need to suddenly change your normal diet and start eating hot chillies if these aren’t your usual foods. A sudden dramatic change in diet can put babies off feeding or cause tummy upsets. Just enjoy a varied diet, and your baby will too – hopefully into their old age!