Pregnancy can be a stressful time in any woman’s life. Hormonal changes are accompanied by loss/gain of appetite, morning sickness, backaches and the inevitable nervousness about carrying a baby. It is no small feat to form a body, heart, brain, lungs — a whole human — inside of you. While such miracles can be life-changing, Adoption Choices of New York also understands that they can arrive at unideal times.
Unplanned pregnancies can certainly accumulate further anxiety that are harmful to both you and your unborn child. But you are not alone on this journey and we, the adoption experts, are more than willing to walk you through your available options.
However, before that, take a deep breath and remember to take care of your body along the way. Taking supplements and eating the right food will do wonders for your health and your baby’s development. The list below gives an overview of what to eat when you’re expecting. It is always recommended to check with your doctor to see what nutrients and vitamins will be appropriate for your body specifically.
- Folic Acid
Folic acid is crucial for healthy development and growth. While pregnant, taking folic acid can prevent some brain and spine birth defects. Other preventions include heart defects and cleft lip and palate formed in your baby’s mouth. It is recommended that you take 400 mcg of folic acid during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After these 12 weeks, you can increase the amount to 600 mcg per your doctor’s instructions.
Iron’s function in your body is to produce hemoglobin, a protein that helps transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. During pregnancy, the level of hemoglobin you will need doubles since the fetus will also need to make his or her own blood. Not enough iron will lead to infections, fatigue, anemia and, potentially, premature birth. The supplement bottle recommends 27 milligrams each day.
Calcium will help your baby with the development of bones, teeth, heart, nerves and muscles. If you don’t consume enough calcium, your baby will obtain the necessary amount from your bones, and that will not be good for your body. You will need to absorb 1000 milligrams of calcium per day.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is what helps your body absorb calcium. It also aids in the development of nerves and the immune system, which will protect your baby from any infections. Additionally, Vitamin D helps grow bones and teeth. The recommended dosage for Vitamin D is 600 IU every day.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) will help develop your baby’s eyes and brain. You will need 200 milligrams of DHA per day. DHA is typically not in many popular prenatal supplements, so talk to your doctor to find out which is the best way for your body to receive DHA.
Your body uses the mineral iodine to make thyroid hormones, which helps store energy from food. Your baby needs iodine to help with brain and nervous system development. The nervous system is in charge of movement, feelings and thoughts. It is recommended that you take 220 micrograms of iodine every day.
What to Eat When You’re Expecting
- Pasteurized Dairy
Dairy products are great sources for calcium along with high amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and various types of B vitamins. For birth mothers who are lactose intolerant, you can replace some dairy with yogurt. Have around 3 to 4 servings of dairy products per day. Make sure that these dairy products are pasteurized.
- Lean protein
Protein is essential to your baby’s growth. Lean proteins, therefore, are great sources for this nutrient. Lean meat is also high in iron and other B vitamins. Hemoglobin is needed throughout pregnancy, especially the third trimester when your baby is ready for birth. Some excellent protein-rich foods to consider are:
- Beef, pork and chicken
- Beans and tofu
- Cheese and milk
- Nuts and seeds
Legume products provide nutrients such as: fiber, protein, iron, folate (B9) and calcium. You will need all of these during your pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Safe and healthy legumes include:
- Black beans
Fruits are packed with vitamins and are generally low-calorie foods. For example, fruits can contain folate, iron and potassium. Eating both fresh and dried fruits are ok while pregnant. Dried fruits are great because they contain the same amount of nutrients with less water and in smaller forms. While you may need more water during pregnancy, eating too much fruit might fill you up before you can get the nutrients you need. With that being said, you should be careful of the amount of natural sugar they carry. Too much sugar, despite being natural, is not good for you or your baby. Here are some fresh and dried fruit options to add to your next grocery shopping list:
- Prunes – An abundance of fiber, potassium, vitamin K and sorbitol. Also, they have natural laxative properties, which are helpful in relieving constipation.
- Dates – High in fiber, potassium, iron and plant compounds. Pregnant women consuming dates regularly during the third trimester have a high chance of reducing the need to induce labor.
- Avocados – A high amount of monounsaturated fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and decrease inflammation. Fatty acids from avocados help build the skin, brain, and tissues of the fetus.
Dark, leafy green vegetables contain nutrients such as fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, folate and potassium. Broccoli, in particular, is rich in antioxidants and provides plant-based benefits to help with digestion and the immune system. If you are looking for some vegetables that are great sources of folic acid, check out these ones:
- Brussels sprouts
- Whole Grains
By eating more whole grains, you are able to meet your daily calorie intake. The second and third trimesters are the most tolling on your body because your baby is taking a substantial amount of calories. Whole grains are packed with fiber, iron, and B vitamins. So, if you are feeling low on energy and are wanting a boost of calories, these are great options to stock up on:
- Oats and quinoa
- Brown rice
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly present in salmon and many kinds of seafood. DHA is a form of omega-3 fatty acid. However, you should not consume raw seafood during pregnancy due to the high level of mercury present in fatty fish. If you decide to eat salmon, it should always be cooked properly. It is recommended that you have 8 to 12 ounces of these kinds of fish each week, but check with your doctor to be certain of the ideal amount for your body specifically.
People tend to forget the importance of proper and continual water consumption. Along with hydrating your body, water refreshes it and removes wastes. For pregnant women, water consumption is critical in order to balance out the blood volume increase. Water is required to transport oxygen to blood cells. Not enough water in your body will lead to headaches, anxiety, tiredness, and reduced memory. Try to drink about 2L a day; however, the amount can vary by individual.
What to Expect
At Adoption Choices of New York, we understand that going through an unplanned pregnancy can take a toll on your body and mental state. Nonetheless, we highly encourage you to take care of your body and your baby for the sake of yourself, your baby, and a potential and hopeful prospective family. Remember, you are your own hero and savior in someone else’s story.
Adoption Choices of New York
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Lisa Truong is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Denver. She is minoring in writing and Chemistry. She has been commended by professors for her news stories as well as creative writing.
During her freshman year, her essay “See Ya on the Other Side” was displayed at a writing exhibition sponsored by the University of Denver. That essay later went on to be published in Many Voices One DU, a book also sponsored by the university.
Lisa frequently volunteers to be a leader at the Daniels School of Business for their quarterly Ethics Boot Camp where students learn about the importance of character in business. In her free time, Lisa enjoys watching animated movies with her mother, listening to music, going for bike rides, and eating breakfast food.
Bjarnadottir, Adda. “13 Foods to Eat When You’re Pregnant.” Healthline Parenthood, 17 July 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-foods-to-eat-when-pregnant.
“Body Changes During Pregnancy.” LiveScience. Purch. Accessed January 24, 2020. https://www.livescience.com/50877-regnancy-body-changes.html.