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  Pregnancy eMagazine

Third trimester: Eating well despite heartburn, gas or constipation

In the third trimester, your baby is crowding out everything around it. Soon after you start eating a meal, you probably feel full. Combine that with the heartburn, constipation and gassiness that are common at this time, and you may find it challenging to get good nutrition.

Nutritional needs

Be sure to ask your health care provider for recommendations about your nutritional needs at this time.

It's important right now to eat plenty of protein and calcium. This enhances your baby's brain development (and it's good for your bones).

  • For protein, eat lean meats, poultry, fish or beans and rice.
  • Good calcium sources include dairy products, broccoli, canned salmon with bones and molasses.

Dealing with constipation and gassiness

The hormone progesterone slows intestinal movement right now, and the growing baby slows down bowel activity. This can create gas and constipation. To manage these conditions, take these steps:

  • Start each day with a warm drink.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Avoid any foods that normally make you feel gassy.

Managing heartburn

Progesterone, the culprit in slowing intestinal movement, also relaxes the stomach muscles. This sometimes causes stomach acids to flow back up to the esophagus, giving you heartburn.

The key to managing heartburn is to avoid greasy, spicy foods and large meals, especially before bedtime or before a nap. When you're sleeping, try to keep your head elevated. This can help prevent the stomach acid from moving toward your esophagus.

To help you sleep…

Since sleeping can be especially difficult right now, try drinking a glass of warm milk before bed (unless you have trouble digesting dairy products).

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Source: Allina Hospitals & Clinics

First published: 09/05/2000
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic