An unplanned pregnancy will completely change your daily routine. While I was enjoying my freedom to eat chicken nuggets and drink Red Bull, when I found out I was pregnant, my habits had to change.
While you are taking care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and spiritually through your decision process, please remember that you are carrying a life inside of you, and that physical health is important too. I was very underweight when I found out I was pregnant, and had to start forcing myself to eat for two. I didn’t exercise as much as I should have, and ended up gaining more weight than I needed to. I worked with a midwife and a doula, though, who helped me come up with a birth plan and talked to me about healthy vitamin supplements and eating habits, which were important for my baby to get what he needed in the womb.
While it may feel strenuous to take care of a little life while trying to take care of yourself, just remember that the better start you can give your child, even while in the womb, the healthier that child will be as he or she grows and develops.
Here are four important steps you can take to practice self-care for yourself and your baby during an unplanned pregnancy.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating what we want, when we want is part of the joy of being an adult. We can have ice cream for breakfast and cereal for dinner. However, a more mature view on “adulting” tells us that while this may feel good in the moment, it is not a healthy choice for our bodies. Even though we can eat what we want, when we want, it doesn’t mean that letting our emotions fuel our eating habits is a good idea. It’s common knowledge that diet changes are crucial to our health, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet can solve many a physical woe.
It is especially crucial to adjust your diet when you are carrying a life inside of you. Regardless of whether you know what you are going to do with this little life, it still deserves a chance at the best start while you are deciding.
One of the most crucial aspects of maintaining health during pregnancy is to follow a few simple diet tips. I’m not suggesting a woman who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy go all organic and be the perfect model of health. What I’m suggesting is implementing a few tips and tricks to make diet choices that will have a significant impact on the life of a child while in the womb.
Here are some tips to remain healthy while dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of an unplanned pregnancy:
- Remember to eat breakfast.
- Eat foods with fiber.
- Make healthy snack choices.
- Take a daily prenatal vitamin with iron and folic acid; this will help keep your blood healthy and prevent some birth defects. Talk with your doctor to find the prenatal vitamin that’s right for you.
- Eat 8–12 ounces of fish and shellfish each week to provide nutrients for your growing baby —but avoid fish that are high in mercury, like swordfish, tilefish, shark, and king mackerel. Mercury is a metal that can hurt your baby’s development. Healthy seafood choices include:
- Canned light tuna
- White (albacore) tuna – no more than 6 ounces a week
- Stay away from raw fish (like sushi) and rare or undercooked meat; soft, unpasteurized cheeses; and lunch meats. These foods may have bacteria in them that can hurt your baby.
- Limit caffeine and avoid alcohol.
Use Your Local Resources
Resources are a significant factor in the ability to make healthy dietary choices, and if you cannot afford healthy food, that can be remedied. There are Care Pregnancy Centers, as well as government assistance in the form of WIC, that will provide resources to help a woman obtain the food she and her body require while pregnant. Assistance to obtain healthy food while going through an unplanned pregnancy is available, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with applying for it and receiving it.
If you are having trouble finding resources in your area, try contacting some local churches. It is very likely that they will be able to point you in the direction of pregnancy centers, food banks, or other resources that you may not have been aware were available. Don’t be too prideful to ask for help; after all, it is a selfless decision to maintain health in every capacity while dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.
Also, consider implementing or adjusting an exercise routine to help deal with stress and keep your body healthy. A great routine is yoga, which you can adjust for every stage in your pregnancy. You can purchase everything you need, including a yoga mat and DVDs for prenatal yoga, on Amazon.
If finances are a struggle through this time, as they absolutely were for me, then don’t worry about adding another expense by purchasing exercise equipment and DVDs. Check out some exercise videos on YouTube that are specific to the trimester of pregnancy you are in.
Consult with a Doctor
Remember, before commencing an exercise routine and adjusting your diet, consult with a doctor. It is crucial to make sure that you take care of your body in the appropriate way while experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. If you are higher risk, there may be some exercise routines that your body may not be able to handle. Certain dietary restrictions may apply if you are at risk for prenatal diabetes or have allergies to certain foods.
Being guided by a doctor or a midwife is the best way to take care of yourself while pregnant. A doctor will guide you in what foods to eat, what foods to stay away from, what type of exercise is best for your pregnancy, and what you should avoid. While research like this article includes some good simple starting steps, it is by no means the alternative to adhering to the advice of a health care professional who knows your unique health situation. Your doctor will know better than anything you read online or in a book.
Remember, taking care of yourself while pregnant is the best thing you can do to ensure the health of your child. While it is important to educate yourself on the options you face in an unplanned pregnancy, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle while doing so.