Healthy Choices for Pregnant Women During Adoption – Thoughts from a Birth Mother
As a woman who has faced an unexpected pregnancy, I know how difficult it can be to balance life. Not only did I have to figure out how I was going to re-structure my life for a baby, but I also had to maintain health during my pregnancy. Choosing adoption adds more stress into the mix, as prospective birth mothers have to make a significant decision about choosing adoption itself and who they will choose as adoptive parents, as well.
The steps of the adoption process can seem overwhelming, even with the help of an adoption professional. However, with the right balance in your life and the appropriate forms of support, choosing adoption while remaining healthy during a pregnancy can be accomplished.
Balancing Overall Pregnancy Health
There are many aspects of pregnancy health that need to be considered during any pregnancy — and especially during a pregnancy that will result in an adoption. Not one factor is more important than the other, as the overall health of mom and baby is crucial during any unplanned pregnancy. The components of health to be maintained during a pregnancy and adoption process are financial, nutritional, medical, spiritual, mental and personal health, in no specific order.
Many women who choose adoption may require financial assistance from their adoption agency during a pregnancy and adoption process. The good news is that many states allow for adoption-related expenses, and even living expenses, to be paid for by the adoption agency that will be facilitating the adoption. Finances are stressful enough for most people, let alone women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and choosing adoption. Please speak with your adoption professional to have them assess you for any financial assistance for adoption that you may qualify for.
We hear it all the time: “Eat healthy, especially when pregnant.” But, why does it matter so much? Don’t I have enough stress on my plate during adoption without having to monitor everything I eat?
The truth is, pregnancy means you are not only responsible for your own physical health but the health of your baby, as well. Even if you are choosing adoption after you deliver the baby, you are still responsible for the growth and development of that life while it is inside your womb. Many state governments across the country offer a program that is known as WIC, which stands for Women, Infants and Children. WIC focuses on healthy nutrition and other healthy habits for women who need extra assistance during a pregnancy up until their baby turns 1 year old. Please check with your county’s Health and Human Services Department to determine if you qualify for any nutritional benefits they may offer, whether it be WIC or even additional food assistance.
One of the first aspects of health that a woman learning of an unplanned pregnancy should look at is her medical health. Finding a doctor as soon as you realize you are pregnant and keeping up with appointments is critical to not only baby’s health during pregnancy but also mom’s health during pregnancy.
I highly recommend finding a doctor whose beliefs line up with yours regarding what you want your pregnancy to be like. There are many doctors out there who can help you; the key is finding the right fit for you. Some women prefer to work with a midwife and have a more natural pregnancy and delivery. Other women prefer to be advised by an OBGYN who will guide them through every step with their medical expertise. Whatever health care provider you choose, make sure to follow through on all of your recommended pregnancy care.
One of my greatest struggles during adoption was remaining strong in my spirit, despite all the chaos and betrayal that I felt was around me. I needed supportive and faithful relationships during my adoption, but they were hard to be found. One of the most helpful people I could turn to was my adoption agent. She was incredibly supportive, would listen to me cry and would revel in moments of joy with me. However, she wasn’t my faith. My faith was my God, and I spent quite a bit of time in prayer. As far as when I felt alone and needed to express myself, I used a diary. The diary I kept during my adoption process ended up revealing a great testimony of the Power of God in my life, and His restorative powers.
It is up to each prospective birth mother to determine what tools she can implement within her own adoption process to help her get through the process. Once you find something that helps you cope, don’t give it up, and remember to be faithful to your own beliefs and not the slew of voices that may be full of judgement and condemnation.
I have struggled with mental health issues for a long time, and they ramped up during my pregnancy and throughout my adoption process. One of the best things I did for myself was to obtain adoption counseling. I had asked my adoption agent for assistance with paying for it and was able to attend counseling with a therapist I trusted during my adoption process. I also stuck close to my treatment team during my pregnancy for support.
If you are a woman who has struggled with mental health before pregnancy, be sure to see your psychiatrist. There are certain medications that are safe during pregnancy, while others are unsafe for your baby. If you are a woman who may be experiencing depression for the first time in your life during your unplanned pregnancy, then talk to your doctor. A doctor can refer you to a mental health professional who can assess you for any needs you may have and begin a treatment plan specific for you.
This is the part of a general health assessment that may seem the most difficult to deal with: personal relationships. When I decided on adoption, I had very little support from friends and family. I felt very alone most of the time and confused as to why I was facing so much judgement and condemnation. I had to take a step away from many of the relationships I had in my life, as they began to reveal themselves as the toxic relationships they had always been.
If you are accurately assessing the personal relationships in your life while going through an adoption process, you may find that you need to set up extra boundaries with others or even step away from a relationship for a while. I can promise you that with time and walking a path of healing, some of these relationships may not only be restored but can be stronger than ever in the future.
If you are a woman considering adoption and trying to balance your health during an adoption, please know that there is support available to you. If you have already chosen an adoption agency, then be sure to communicate your needs and struggles to your adoption professional. If you haven’t chosen an adoption agency yet, then do your research first. Adoption agencies, whether local or national, offer additional free resources to prospective birth mothers. Be sure to ask what resources are available to you before you commit to working with a specific agency.
Please feel free to reach out to an adoption agency like American Adoptions for any kind of help you need (1-800-ADOPTION). Even if they can’t provide you the resource you need, they should be able to refer you to an organization or resource that can assist.
Balancing all aspects of health during pregnancy may seem daunting, but with the right support, you can have a healthy and happy pregnancy even with an adoption decision.
Lindsay is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption 7 years ago and hopes to use her experience to support and educate other expectant mothers considering adoption, as well as adoptive families.