There are a variety of reasons why a woman may choose to place her baby up for adoption. Once she has made the decision, she still must complete the adoption process throughout the length of the pregnancy and deal with post-placement grief and other emotions. On top of considering and following through with an adoption, a pregnant woman must take care of her body while she is pregnant, since she is solely responsible for those nine months for the health of her baby.
Pregnancy requires self-care, discipline and support. A woman must make sure she is taking care of herself while carrying a baby. This includes nutrition, medical and mental health considerations. Beyond the stress of the choice for adoption, the potential birth mother must be sure to try and manage other stresses as well.
Here are some habits and lifestyle changes that a woman facing an unexpected pregnancy will need to begin practicing during the first trimester:
Medical Care for Mom and Baby
Pregnancy brings with it a slew of considerations, including living a healthy lifestyle. A soon-to-be birth mother will want to find a doctor she can trust throughout her pregnancy and to handle the birth. Typically, this will be an OBGYN or a midwife. Different doctors may have different practices, expectations, and requirements of their pregnant patients. If you do not already have an OBGYN that you trust, and you would like help finding a new doctor, contact the adoption professional that you are working with so that they can help refer you to someone.
There is another consideration with prenatal medical care, and that is the aspect of choosing adoption instead of parenting. Make sure that the OBGYN or midwife you choose understands and respects the choice to place baby for adoption. Your adoption professional can help you find an adoption-friendly medical professional.
If the adoption professional you have chosen doesn’t have recommendations for a medical provider, then do some research on your own. You can do an internet search to find local providers, or call your insurance company for providers who accept your insurance. If you have already chosen a potential adoptive couple, they might be able to refer you to their preferred health care provider as well.
Nutrition for Mom and Baby
I know that my eating habits were terrible when I found out that I was pregnant. I was barely eating and drinking tons of energy drinks. I was underweight and just never had an appetite. Learning of an unplanned pregnancy and deciding against having an abortion meant making different lifestyle choices when it came to nutrition. One of the first steps in healthy nutrition when it comes to finding out you are unexpectedly expecting is to begin taking a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins have different amounts of the nutrients a woman needs when she is growing a life inside of her. Do not continue other supplements or vitamins without the okay from your health care provider.
Healthy eating choices are crucial as well throughout an unplanned pregnancy. Bad eating habits like constant fast food or eating too much or too little at every meal are probably habits that will need to be abandoned. Make sure you are eating at least three meals per day and snacks between if necessary. If you have morning sickness (which may be all day sickness if you are anything like me), that can be tackled with supplements like ginger after doctor approval.
If you aren’t sure how to adapt those eating habits during a pregnancy, there is a government-sponsored program called WIC that can guide you in how to eat healthy for you and your baby while pregnant.
The WIC (Women, Infants, & Children) website will inform you of nutritional information and how to get in touch with your local WIC office. You may even qualify for food assistance through WIC.
Living Without Drugs or Alcohol
In a society where addiction and alcoholism are such a problem, it would behoove me to mention that drugs and alcohol need to be cut out during any pregnancy, including an unplanned pregnancy. There is a stereotype that young potential birth mothers are addicted to drugs, which is a wide-sweeping and untrue statement. However, addiction and alcoholism are unfortunately very real diseases and need to be addressed.
The first step in cutting out drugs and alcohol would be to consult with a medical professional to ensure that there are no physical dangers to the baby, like dealing with heavy withdrawal symptoms. Women addicted to certain substances, especially harder drugs and alcohol, may find themselves in a situation in which quitting cold turkey is not the wise route. Beyond issues of withdrawal causing harm to a fetus, there may be a higher risk of relapse due to binging after having quit cold turkey.
If drugs and/or alcohol are an issue for any potential birth mother who is processing an unplanned pregnancy, please seek help for this first and foremost. There are adoptive families out there who are screened and willing to take on a baby from a drug-addicted birth mother. So if adoption is your choice, but you are battling the disease of addiction, you can still make an adoption plan for your baby. Just make sure that you are open in communication with your adoption professional right out of the gate so they can help you find families who will take the baby, and refer you support resources if necessary.
Those are only a few of the considerations that a pregnant woman will need to keep in mind while dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Depending upon a potential birth mother’s situation, she may also have to contend with financial hardship, relationships evolving and housing adjustments. The first trimester of pregnancy is different for every woman, but the above are some of the crucial points to cover when taking care of mom and baby.
This is the first in a three-part series. For pregnancy to-dos during the second trimester, read this article. For more information about what to expect during your unplanned pregnancy, visit our month-by-month unplanned pregnancy help guide here.
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.