D for development
By the time you're 32 weeks pregnant, most of your baby’s body systems are formed, functioning, and ready for life outside the womb. Much of their development from now on will focus on growth, which is why vitamin D is so essential. Learn how this nutrient supports your baby’s bones as they grow and how to make sure you’re getting enough.
Your baby's development at 32 weeks
Their lungs still have some developing to do, but breathing amniotic fluid helps to strengthen them in preparation for their first inhalation of air.
Although your baby sleeps for much of the day, when they’re awake, they may be experimenting with their new ability to turn their head from side to side. They’re becoming more aware of their own body now, and can suck their thumb and kick their feet whenever the mood takes them.
Some babies will be in a head down position by week 32, known as cephalic presentation, ready for birth. If your baby is still enjoying a head up or transverse (horizontal) position, don’t worry; there’s plenty of time for them to turn.
Vitamin D: A key ingredient for future bone health
Vitamin D is an important nutrient to include in your third trimester diet. It regulates the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body, which are both essential to your baby’s developing bones. In extreme cases a lack of vitamin D in the mother can cause a baby’s bones to soften, which can lead to the rare condition of rickets.
As well as protecting and helping build their bones, the vitamin D you consume now helps to build up your baby’s personal store of this nutrient, which they will rely on in the first few months after birth.
The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the UVB rays in sunlight. However, the latitude of Ireland means that we only get a few months of effective sunlight each year during the summer. This means that the vitamin D you get through skin exposure may not be enough to support you and your baby throughout the whole of your pregnancy.
You can increase your vitamin D intake from week 32 onwards by making sure you eat good food sources. However, these are unlikely to provide enough. In Ireland, it’s recommended that all adults take a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day, especially during pregnancy to guarantee that you get the levels you and your baby need. It is also recommended that you should continue taking your vitamin D supplement after your baby is born if you are planning to breastfeed your baby.
Check that your prenatal multivitamin includes 10 micrograms of vitamin D and if not, buy a separate one.
Eating the following vitamin D-rich foods regularly will also up your intake:
- Oily fish, including herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon or trout (but this should be limited to two portions per week as oily fish can contain toxins which can be harmful to your developing baby).
- Eggs – the yolk contains vitamin D.
- Fortified foods – some brands of milk, and breakfast cereals, margarines and low-fat spreads have added vitamin D.
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.