You've made it this far and you're still healthy, glowing and fit as a fiddle -- or perhaps you're turning green and too tired to get off the couch. Whether the past several months have seemed like a walk in the park or one across hot coals, you're nearing the end and want to make sure your body is in the best condition possible for the upcoming birth and the sleepless nights that will follow.
It might seem less than tempting to lug your belly off the couch and onto the treadmill in your eighth month of pregnancy, and the fatigue you're feeling in your third trimester may make the prospect even less appealing. The fact is staying active keeps you healthy as you near the end of your pregnancy. "Being fit during pregnancy, especially the third trimester, can decrease pain perception and improve maternal lung capacity. Labor time can also be shortened if a mother has improved physical and mental health -- allowing her to push with toned abdominals and a controlled pelvic floor," says Ginger Garner, a licensed physical therapist, athletic trainer and professional yoga therapist of Emerald Isle, North Carolina.
You don't have to hit the gym seven days a week to stay fit; go for a walk each day, join a prenatal aerobics class or stretch and flex along to your favorite prenatal exercise DVD. All of these will help to keep you in shape and relieve some of the aches and pains you've been feeling. They may even help get your baby in position for delivery.
Also, if you're still experiencing those occasional bouts of nausea in the morning, or any other time of day, walking helps. "While it may seem like the last thing you'd want to do, get outside and walk, even if you can only handle a few minutes. Walking works wonders to reduce morning sickness," advises Jennifer Tucker, perinatal exercise specialist and founder of Fit for Expecting in South Pasadena, California. This far into pregnancy there are a few actions you'll want to avoid -- quick movement, jumping and lying flat on your back are best left for the post-pregnancy period. Let your body be the guide. If an activity feels uncomfortable, stop and consult your health care practitioner before resuming.
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Everything but the Kitchen Sink
If you've ever watched a Hollywood film with a pregnant woman, you've seen that picture-perfect slender frame with a perfectly rounded baby bump indulge in mile-high ice cream sundaes while she also consumes every other morsel of food she can find. Back down in reality-ville, while your appetite has probably increased and your cravings may have skyrocketed, your body and your baby only require you to consume an extra 400-to-500 calories a day. (That's equivalent to a couple of glasses of low-fat milk and a handful of almonds.) The ice cream and late-night trips to the junk cupboard aren't providing anything other than empty calories that will stick around on the hips long after the birth.