What Diet Should I Follow in the Eighth Month of Pregnancy?

In the eighth month of pregnancy, you've reached the home stretch. Your baby still has some growing to do at this stage and you need to build yourself up for labor and delivery. Maintaining good nutrition at this stage of pregnancy may be difficult, since the baby squashes your stomach and intestines, increasing heartburn and making it hard to eat much at one time. Healthy eating requires some adjustments but will pay dividends for you and your baby.

Maintaining good nutrition is important at the end of pregnancy. (Image: federicomarsicano/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamins and Minerals

Calcium and iron remain important components of your pregnancy diet, especially in the last few months of pregnancy. You'll experience some blood loss during labor and delivery, so make sure your iron stores can handle the loss by continuing prenatal vitamins with iron and upping your intake of iron-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables, animal protein and seafood. Follow the recommended restrictions on seafood for pregnant women by limiting your intake to two meals per week and avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, which contain large amounts of potentially harmful mercury, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue to emphasize calcium intake to keep your bones and your baby's bones healthy. Limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day or less to reduce excessive fluid retention, the University of Washington Medical Center advises, especially if you have high blood pressure.

Proteins, Carbohydrates and Fats

Protein forms the building blocks of tissue. Your baby is still gaining around a half pound per week in the eighth month and needs lots of protein for growth. Take in between 75 and 100 grams of protein per day in pregnancy, suggests the American Pregnancy Association. Adequate protein from animal sources, dairy, legumes and nuts also will help you repair tissues damaged in childbirth. Good fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, may facilitate brain development in your baby. Decrease your intake of simple sugars to keep your weight gain within normal limits, but eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables for their essential vitamin and mineral content.

Minimizing Gastrointesinal Complaints

Heartburn can plague you in late pregnancy, when your intestinal action slows not only due to high levels of progesterone but also the mechanical effects of compression by your your growing baby. Cooked vegetables may produce less gas and intestinal discomfort than raw ones. Some foods may trigger heartburn in you but not in your best friend; know your trigger foods and limit them if possible. Fiber in fruits and vegetables can help keep you regular, reducing constipation, another bane of late pregnancy.

Small Amounts Frequently

Sitting down to a Thanksgiving-style dinner with everything from soup to nuts probably won't work well for you in the eighth month of pregnancy. Concentrate instead on eating healthy foods a little at a time. When you don't feel particularly hungry, it's easy to just pick at food. This is fine if you're picking healthy foods but not okay if you're grabbing a handful of candy from the bag as you pass by. Healthy choices in easy-to-eat small packages include half a meat sandwich -- real meat, not processed, to reduce your sodium intake -- made with whole bread, a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or a salad with cubed chicken or tuna. Try peanut butter on apples or celery for protein and fiber.

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