Health

Nutrition During Pregnancy

It’s a common belief: if you’re pregnant, you can eat anything you want. After all, you’re going to gain weight anyway so why worry about calories? Instead, indulge yourself, right?

The truth is, during pregnancy, your body is working harder than ever to provide everything your baby needs to survive and to keep you healthy too. Contrary to what many believe, during pregnancy, most women only need an additional 300-500 calories per day—and only during the second and third trimester. The phrase “eating for two” really comes down to making smart food choices to get all the nutrients the two of you need.

What To Eat During Pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a nonprofit organization of women’s health care physicians, recommends eating a balanced diet of nutritionally dense foods, such as:

• Grains, such as bread, oatmeal, pasta, and tortillas.
• Fruits, fresh, canned, frozen or dried. 100% fruit juice also counts.
• Vegetables, cooked or raw, fresh, frozen, canned or dried. 100% vegetable juice counts as well.
• Protein, including meat, chicken, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, and nuts.
• Dairy, such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a free online tool called Supertracker that helps you keep track of the foods you need and the foods you’ve eaten, to ensure you maintain a healthy balance.

In addition to eating a variety of foods, it is also important to take in specific nutrients each day to help your baby develop properly. The ACOG suggests:

• A prenatal vitamin supplement for additional nutritional coverage.
• Folic acid (400 mg), which is a B vitamin that helps the baby’s brain develop.
• Iron, (27 mg), which helps make a substance in the blood that carries oxygen to your and your baby’s organs.
• Calcium, to strengthen your baby’s bones and teeth. Pregnant women and women 19 and over should get 1000 mg a day. If you’re 14 -18, you should get 1300 mg a day.
• Vitamin D, which is essential for eyesight and skin and also works with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth. Pregnant women should have 600 international units of Vitamin D per day.

What Not to Eat During Pregnancy

Good nutrition during pregnancy isn’t only about what TO eat—it’s also about what to avoid. In addition to the well-documented dangers from using drugs, nicotine or alcohol, doctors also suggest limiting or eliminating:

• Caffeine—some studies suggest that caffeine can increase the risk of a miscarriage. The ACOG suggests limiting caffeine to the equivalent of one 12-ounce cup of coffee a day.
• Certain fish. Doctors recommend not eating shark, swordfish and king mackerel, which have high levels of mercury, and have been associated with birth defects.
• Foods that are more likely to cause food poisoning. Avoid eating raw meat, fish or eggs.
• Foods that may carry food-borne bacteria that causes Listeriosis. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get this illness that can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. Avoid hot dogs, cold cuts, unpasteurized milk, refrigerated meat spreads and raw or undercooked meat, fish or eggs.

When you eat a well-balanced diet during pregnancy, you give your body what it needs for the tremendous task it is performing, and you provide both you and your baby the best opportunities for a healthy life.

Pregnancy: What to Know about The Second Trimester

Looking-out-window---blk-and-whiteThe second trimester of pregnancy often feels like the best. You may no longer get morning sickness, and you may now enjoy a hearty appetite along with a resurgence of energy. You also are starting to see visible changes in your body as the baby grows, but you don’t yet have some of the late stage discomforts.

Baby’s Development in the Second Trimester

The second trimester begins in week 13 and goes to about week 28. During this time, the baby continues phenomenal growth as the systems that are now in place continue to develop. Sweat glands develop, and eyebrows, eyelashes and fingernails start to grow. Other internal organs that have already formed continue to mature.

The skin becomes less transparent as necessary fat accumulates. The baby begins to have sleeping and waking cycles. Although the baby may have begun to move at the end of the first trimester, during the second trimester, you can begin to detect the movement. Doctors can find the baby’s heartbeat with a stethoscope.

By the end of the second trimester, the baby measures a little over a foot—about 14 inches in length and weighs about 2 ¼ pounds. For comparison, the baby is about the size of a whole cauliflower.

Changes for You During the Second Trimester

Just as the baby is undergoing amazing growth during the second trimester, your body changes to support that growth.

Some of the changes you’ll notice may include larger breasts, stretch marks and finally, a baby “bump.” You may also notice skin changes, almost as if you were in puberty all over again. You may get more frequent bladder or kidney infections and leg cramps as your body adjusts to the increased work it is doing.

Toward the end of the second trimester, you may feel aches as the ligaments in your abdomen stretch to accommodate the growing belly. You may also begin to feel a temporary tightening, or mild contractions, called Braxton-Hicks, which help prepare your body for delivery. As the baby takes up more room, squeezing your stomach and lung area, you may feel indigestion and occasional breathlessness.

By the end of the second trimester, most women are wearing maternity clothes and the pregnancy is real and undeniable.

Making Use of “Honeymoon” Period

Without the frequent nausea and exhaustion of the first trimester, and yet before the tiredness and discomfort of the third trimester, the second trimester is one of the best times to plan for your baby. For women who are considering placing their child with an adoptive family, this is an important time in the information gathering and decision making process. A Child’s Hope can help. Our empathetic counselors can listen and provide the information you need to make the right decision for you and your child.

To learn more, please call our 24-hour hotline at 877-890-4673 or text “pregnant” to 919-971-4396.

Pregnancy: What To Know About The First Trimester

pregnancy-test

The first trimester of pregnancy can seem to pass faster than any other stage—often because you may not immediately know you’re pregnant. During the first trimester, many changes aren’t physically visible, even though your body is hard at work. Whether a pregnancy is planned or unplanned, it’s important to understand what is happening during this critical time of development.

What is a Trimester?

Full-term pregnancies last about 40 weeks, with that time divided into three sections, or trimesters. The first trimester starts from the day of the last normal period to about 12 weeks. The second trimester goes from week 13 to about week 28. The third trimester goes from week 29 until week 40. Some of the symptoms from one trimester may carry over to another trimester, and some symptoms from a later trimester may appear earlier.

Each pregnancy may be different, but these guidelines may help you anticipate the changes you’ll experience.

About The First Trimester

One of the telltale symptoms of pregnancy is a missed period. Each month, your body prepares for pregnancy by creating a lining in the uterus. If your egg is not fertilized during this time, you are not pregnant and your body automatically sheds the lining in the form of a menstrual period. If you are pregnant, the lining stays in place, providing a place for the baby to develop.

The Baby’s Development

During the first trimester, the baby’s brain and spinal cord begin to form (Particularly during this time, doctors strongly recommend pregnant women take prenatal vitamins including folic acid to aid the development of the spinal cord).

The heart develops and begins to beat. Arms and legs grow; fingers and toes start to form. At eight weeks, the baby’s sex organs begin to form. At twelve weeks, with an ultrasound, you can tell if the baby is a girl or boy.

The baby’s eyes are developing and eyelids have formed to protect the eyes, which won’t begin to open until the 28th week. By the end of the first trimester, the baby is about three inches long and weighs about half an ounce—about the size of a plum.

Your Physical Symptoms

As the baby develops, you too will experience a variety of symptoms including:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Upset stomach (morning sickness—although this can occur at any time of the day)
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Cravings or distaste for certain foods
  • Mood swings
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss or gain

Emotional Symptoms

Pregnancy hormones can cause emotional ups and downs. In addition, pregnancy itself, whether planned or not, can cause a variety of mixed feelings. Are you emotionally and financially ready to be a parent? How do you ensure you have the skills and temperament to be a good parent? Do you have the support systems you need for you and your baby? How will raising a child affect your life?

It is natural to periodically have these doubts. However, if those feelings don’t go away, or if you feel completely overwhelmed and unprepared to raise a child, you may want to consider other options, such as placing your child with a loving family.

If you’d like to learn more about adoption, A Child’s Hope can help. Please call our 24-hour hotline at 877-890-4673 or text “pregnant” to 919-971-4396. Our compassionate counselors will provide a listening ear and helpful information as you make the best decision for your child.

The Cost of Being Pregnant—And Where To Get Financial Support

CostOfPregnancy

It’s no surprise that raising a child can be expensive. A recent estimate puts the price tag $245,340. But what may be surprising is the financial cost women incur even before the baby is born, during pregnancy.

To have a healthy pregnancy, it is important to anticipate these costs, and learn where to go for financial help if needed.

Initial Medical Costs

Regular pre-natal doctor visits are essential for the wellbeing of you and your baby. Your doctor is likely to prescribe a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, which gives your body the additional nutrients necessary to help the baby develop normally, and that can help prevent birth defects. Your doctor may give additional prescriptions if you are anemic or have other health conditions to be addressed.

During the pregnancy, you will likely have certain screenings and tests to ensure the pregnancy is progressing as it should, without taking too great a toll on your own health. If you have complications during the pregnancy, or a pre-existing health issue, your doctor may require additional testing to monitor the situation.

WebMD, a health news site, estimates the cost of prenatal care in an uncomplicated pregnancy to range from $0 – $2000, and the cost of prenatal vitamins as $15 per month.

Where to get financial help: You may be eligible for help through Medicaid, a governmental program for low-income individuals.

Maternity Clothes

Some women make it through their pregnancy wearing loose shirts and drawstring pants to accommodate the baby bump, but others may need traditional maternity clothes. If you are working through the pregnancy, your needs will be determined by your work dress code.

Many women get through the pregnancy without spending much on clothes by combing through their own wardrobe for comfortable clothes, borrowing from friends and family, and looking for good finds, including sale items in the men’s department or clothes from local thrift or resale shops.

Food

It’s not fair that healthy food is often more expensive than junk food. Making nutritious choices for meals gives your baby the best chance for a great start in life, but when you’re on a tight budget, it may be difficult to balance to maintain. Consider preparing foods yourself, instead of eating out. Enjoy frozen fruits and vegetables, which have similar nutritional value as fresh produce, but are often less expensive. Build meals around beans, which are inexpensive and great forms of protein. Shop sale items, especially for lean meats. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Choose My Plate offers more tips on healthy eating, at low cost.

Where to get help: If you need food, contact the USDA National Clearinghouse or call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE. Over 80 sites in the Raleigh area collaborate with the clearinghouse to provide food for the hungry.

Another program in North Carolina, known as Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods for pregnant women who live in the state. Click on the WIC website or call the Department of Health and Human Services’ Customer Service Center at 1-800-662-7030 (TTY: 1-877-452-2514).

Labor and Delivery

Hospital labor and delivery costs can range from no charge to $30,000 for a vaginal delivery to $50,000 for a C-section. Some insurances may cover some or all of the cost, but the remaining portion can still be huge. If you or the baby has a complication, the costs will only increase.

But this is not a category to bargain hunt. Taking good care of yourself and the baby during pregnancy is a good way to decrease your risk of a complicated delivery.

Where to get financial help: You may be eligible for help through Medicaid, a governmental program for low-income applicants.

Emergency Savings for Recovery

After delivery, your body needs time to physically recover. Doctors typically suggest taking six weeks of medical leave, although some studies say the body needs a full year. If you have worked through the pregnancy, your recovery time may or may not be covered by sick days or vacation. Be sure to anticipate this loss of income by saving in advance.

Having a baby is a significant financial responsibility—one that starts even before the baby is born. If finances are a consideration, explore the resources mentioned above for help.

If you are considering placing your child for adoption, keep in mind that many of the pregnancy costs may be taken care of by the adoptive family. For more information on that possibility, please contact A Child’s Hope, 1-877-890-4673, where our compassionate counselors can provide information as you explore your options.

9 Essential Ways for a Birth Mother To Take Care During Pregnancy

prenatalvitaminsAs a birth mother, your goal is the same as of any pregnant woman—to deliver a healthy child while staying healthy yourself.

Pregnancy puts an understandable strain on the body, which basically becomes a complete life support system for the baby. Making sure that life support system is strong and vital increases the baby’s chances to survive and thrive. But it’s not just the baby to be concerned about—pregnancy affects every part of the body, from your heart, digestive system, skeletal system, digestive system, skin—even your brain.

That’s why taking care of yourself during pregnancy is so important—your body has important work to do, and in order to complete that work—and recover from it—it is important to follow these tips to stay healthy.

  1. Schedule and attend all of your prenatal doctor visits. Although they are often routine, prenatal visits confirm the baby is growing and developing on schedule, and that you remain healthy. Your doctor can diagnose pregnancy complications such as anemia, high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, even before you may feel symptoms. Free prenatal care is available through state organizations, such as NC Association of Free Clinics.
  1. Take your vitamins. Get your body off to a healthy start even if you have not seen your doctor yet. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pregnant women take 400 mgs of folic acid every day—an important B vitamin that can reduce the risk of birth defects like spina bifida. The AAP also says to consider taking a daily prenatal vitamin that contains iron, calcium and the fatty acids DHA and ARA.
  1. Eat a healthy diet. There’s a reason pregnant women are told they are eating for two—they are. You need 300 calories per day more than your usual to help the baby develop. A healthy diet is one that contains protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats. Your doctor can suggest the best combination for you, but the Mayo Clinic provides some helpful guidelines.
  1. Get enough rest. Easy to say, hard to do—but important. Whether you are working, going to school, or have other children or commitments, it is still important that you get rest during the day and sleep at night. This peaceful time gives your body a chance to recover from some of the stresses of pregnancy—physical and emotional, and is vital to your wellbeing.
  1. Exercise. Doctors encourage exercise during pregnancy unless a particular health concern suggests otherwise. Your doctor may clear you to continue your regular exercise routine, or suggest activities that have low impact on your body, such as walking, swimming or yoga. Exercise can relieve backaches and improve posture, provide strong muscles that are useful during delivery, and can help women gain less weight during pregnancy.
  1. Take care of your emotional wellbeing. Pregnancy is an emotional time—whether because of surging hormones or because of the life changes ahead. Make sure you have a support system of friends, family, counselors, or mentors who can provide encouragement and comfort when you need it.
  1. Avoid substances and activities that can harm you or the baby. Smoking or being around smoke, taking drugs or drinking alcohol can be harmful to you and the baby. Although some studies say that moderate drinking during pregnancy may be okay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts it quite plainly: there’s no known amount of alcohol that’s safe to drink during pregnancy.
  1. Avoid foods unsafe to eat during pregnancy. Unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, undercooked meats can contain bacteria that can make you sick and possibly harm the baby.
  1. Ask for, and be willing to receive help. Whether it’s asking a neighbor to watch your toddler so you can take a much needed nap, asking a family member for a ride to the doctor or let a friend do a load of laundry.

 

Taking care during pregnancy means making sure you and the baby have the physical and emotional nurturing you need—giving you both the best chances for a healthy life.

Birthmother Hotline: (877) 890-4673

Se Habla Español: 1 (866) 805-2323 (BEBE)

Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396