Preparing for Labor: Staying Healthy in Late Pregnancy

Maintaining good health habits is essential during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester when the body is preparing itself for labor and delivery. Because each pregnancy is unique, expectant mothers should consult their obstetrician or midwife concerning their activities and diet during this critical period of pregnancy. However, some guidelines are available for acceptable and recommended practices during the last trimester.

Proper Diet

While most women need more calories during pregnancy, it’s necessary to select the right foods. During the last trimester most women may wish to cut back on spicy foods that can cause indigestion and stomach upset. Additionally, a number of smaller meals throughout the day rather than three larger ones can often relieve discomfort caused by the pressure of the growing baby on the digestive organs and make the mother more comfortable during these final weeks of pregnancy.

Drink plenty of fluids

Fruit juices, milk and water are essential in order to ensure proper nutrition during the last weeks of pregnancy. Avoid caffeine and the excess sugar or chemicals in most soft drinks; during this stage it’s important to avoid empty calories and opt for healthier choices. Milk is especially important, since it provides the calcium needed for strong bones for both mother and baby.

Light Exercise

While a strenuous workout routine is not recommended during the last trimester of pregnancy, most expectant mothers can continue low-impact exercise regimens. Exercise can help maintain muscle tone and help prepare the body for the labor and delivery process. As with any exercise program, it’s important to get the doctor’s or midwife’s approval beforehand.

Prenatal Vitamins

Even though much of the baby’s development is already complete in the third trimester, mothers should continue to take prenatal vitamins in order to ensure the health of both mother and unborn baby. These specially formulated supplements provide the vitamins and minerals needed during late pregnancy as the woman’s body prepares for labor, delivery, and motherhood.

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