Meet our expert: Dr Nicole Avena, neuroscientist and author of What to Eat When You’re Pregnant (£8.49, Ten Speed Press).
Tempting as it might be to tuck into comforting junk food in late pregnancy, feeding your body with the right nutrients can make a significant difference to you and your baby at this stage.
Making wise nutritional choices can alleviate late pregnancy symptoms, help prepare your body for labour and boost your baby’s development. And don’t worry, it’s not quite all fruit, vegetables and wholefoods.
At this point in your pregnancy, you’re likely experiencing constipation. ‘Movement in the gastro-intestinal tract decreases during pregnancy,’ explains Dr Nicole. ‘To combat the resulting constipation, eat high-fibre foods, such as chickpeas.’
Your baby builds a store of iron before he’s born. This mineral is also necessary to carry oxygen between you and him and for continued foetal and placental development. Iron-rich figs are a valuable food to add to your shopping basket (although at this stage, we rather hope someone else has offered to shop for you!). ‘Figs contain 3mg of iron per cup-size serving,’ says Dr Nicole, ‘along with 5 grams of fibre to help with constipation.’
Sleeplessness can be a real problem in these final days of pregnancy, which is frustrating when you’re keen to rest up before your baby’s arrival. ‘If you’re not sleeping through the night, foods with calcium, such as leeks, help your brain make melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep,’ suggests Dr Nicole.