Let’s face it, ladies—the pregnant body is, well, different.
Sore nipples, mood swings, strange cravings (pickles and peanut butter, anyone?), plus itching, sweating, and swelling—these are just some of the many side effects that come with growing a tiny human from scratch. Your body is going through a lot, and as you’re facing these many beautiful, surprising, and, yes, sometimes challenging changes, you’ve got to take care of yourself. This is especially true in a surrogate pregnancy.
Good surrogate pregnancy nutrition is a must, and while it can’t erase stretch marks or cure your pregnancy brain, eating well throughout pregnancy can guard against complications and make sure you gain no more—or less—than the recommended amount of weight.
Good nutrition for pregnant women leads to a healthy surrogate pregnancy and a healthy surrogate baby. Even if you are still preparing for a surrogate pregnancy, nutrition is key to boosting your health and preparing your body to carry a healthy child. What you choose to eat—and to not eat—will impact your health and happiness now and throughout your time as a surrogate.
With all the advice out there for pregnancy nutrition, it can be overwhelming to know what and how to eat as a surrogate. Our Pinnacle Surrogacy surrogate pregnancy nutrition guide will help you prepare your body for a healthy surrogacy and continue good nutrition habits during pregnancy.
Benefits of Good Surrogate Pregnancy Nutrition
You’ve probably heard that old adage that pregnant women are “eating for two.” But the reality is that second person is teeny tiny and definitely doesn’t want that cheesecake. Those hard-to-ignore cravings may have you waddling straight to the ice cream shop or burger joint—but while indulgence here or there is fine, remember that good pregnancy food and nutrition are essential to keeping you and the surrogate baby you carry safe and healthy.
Eating well throughout your surrogacy journey offers these benefits:
- Maintaining a healthy weight: gaining enough to support the growing baby and your body’s increased nutritional needs, while making it easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight after your surrogate baby is born.
- Improving the odds that the baby is born at a healthy weight: low birth weight is associated with breathing problems and NICU stays, and high birth weight may mean a more difficult labor, with an increased likelihood of a C-section.
- Boosting the baby’s brain development and reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida.
- Reducing common pregnancy complaints, including morning sickness, constipation, and heartburn.
- Reducing the odds of complications such as gestational diabetes, anemia, preterm labor, and preeclampsia.
Also, keep in mind that there are surrogate BMI requirements, although requirements may vary between surrogacy clinics and are typically determined by a fertility doctor. BMI is a measure of body size, taking into account a person’s weight and height to determine how much of their weight is body fat. High and low BMIs are associated with increased risk in pregnancy, so to qualify for surrogacy, your BMI should be below 30. A nutritious diet can help keep you healthy throughout your surrogate pregnancy.
The Best Foods for Surrogate Pregnancy
So if sugary and greasy indulgences are off the menu, what can you eat during and to prepare for a surrogate pregnancy? Fill your plate with these foods to provide your body (and the growing baby) with healthy foods for pregnancy.
Fruits and Veggies
Yes, mom was right—nutrient rich fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. And they are among the best food for pregnancy. When it comes to incorporating them into your diet, a good rule of thumb is to “eat the rainbow”: choose fruits and vegetables in every color to give your body a variety of nutrients. Deep-colored blueberries offer plenty of antioxidants, while deep green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and chard are packed with fiber, iron, and calcium. Fruits and veggies provide fiber and high-quality carbs to fuel your body. And the antioxidants they provide, including folate and zinc, will improve your fertility and keep the cells in your body healthy.
Eating seasonally ensures you get the maximum nutrition from each bite—plus, fruits and vegetables simply taste better when they are in season. Make sure the fruits and vegetables you eat are organic if possible and definitely washed well to avoid contaminants from the soil where they are grown.
A quick word about fruits—while an apple is definitely better than a donut, fruits taste sweet because they are full of sugar. Aim for only two servings of fruit per day. A serving is about as much as you can fit on your hand. Grapes and berries are great for heading off your cravings for desserts, but keep vegetables as your go-to snack. Eat as many vegetables as you want throughout your surrogate pregnancy.
Healthy Fats and Dairy
“Fat” can be a scary word for those trying to eat healthily. But there are two kinds of fat—the “bad” kind, called trans fat, is found in junk and processed food, and it should definitely be avoided. But saturated fat, the healthy kind of fat, can actually boost your health and prepare your body for pregnancy. Once you’re pregnant, healthy fats can increase your energy and promote brain and eye development in the surrogate baby you carry. These beneficial fats can be found in avocados, nuts, and seeds, and even in pasture-raised meats and eggs. Another good source of “good” fats is fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and mackerel.
Got milk? Recent studies have shown that full-fat dairy, including cheese, can help with maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, metabolizing lipids, and promoting fertility. Whole milk may actually be better for you than low-fat, especially if it is organic and grass-fed, offering benefits from vitamin absorption to heart health. Full-fat dairy is more filling and is a great way to get in those healthy fats, but drinking low-fat dairy may inadvertently increase sugar intake.
A healthy pregnancy starts in the brain, controls body function and produces key hormones. And did you know that a healthy brain starts in the gut? Gut health is essential to brain health. In fact, serotonin—that “happy” hormone that makes you feel great—is actually created in the gut. To lift your mood and improve brain function during your surrogacy, include foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, and pickles, in your fertility and pregnancy diet.
Protein is the building block of human cells. Since your body is busy putting together a new human, it needs as many of those building blocks as it can get. Help it out by making protein a key component of your nutrition during pregnancy. Meat—especially unprocessed and pasture-raised—is, of course, a classic choice. Eggs are a great protein-rich option as well, and vegetarian or vegan surrogates should load up on lentils, beans, and grains.
Stay hydrated! Drinking enough water throughout your surrogate pregnancy will help prevent low amniotic fluid and premature labor. We recommend about four quarts of water per day.
Foods to Avoid
Consider everything on this list a big no-no while you are pregnant or preparing for surrogacy.
Sugar and Sweeteners
Sweets taste great, but stay away. Cutting out sugar from your diet can help stabilize blood sugar, avoid insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and help you maintain a healthy weight throughout your surrogacy. Avoid artificial sweeteners as well, which compromise gut health and put the baby at risk for childhood obesity.
Processed dairy, snacks, and sweets add calories without providing any pregnancy nutrition benefits for you or the baby. Plus, they contain additives and preservatives and can cause excess weight gain during your surrogate pregnancy. Instead, choose clean, whole foods.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s time to say goodbye to that early morning, mid morning and afternoon cups of coffee. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and can make it harder to get pregnant and even increase the risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Research suggests limiting coffee, or even cutting it out if you can, at least three months before you intend to begin your surrogate pregnancy. Depending on your fertility agency and doctor recommendations, coffee, as well as herbal teas or supplements consumption will be contractually limited for surrogates to one caffeined drink a day.
Alcohol and pregnancy simply don’t mix. While research isn’t clear about the effect that occasional drinking can have on your fertility, once you’ve undergone a cycle of IVF and there’s a chance you could be pregnant, you need to stop consuming alcohol. Exposure to alcohol in the womb can cause lifelong physical and mental health problems. Most fertility agencies contractually prohibit surrogates from consuming alcohol, smoking tobacco (or anything else), and taking drugs during their surrogacy pregnancy.
Here at Pinnacle Surrogacy we take the health of our surrogates seriously and we care about nutrition for pregnant women. We know that great pregnancy nutrition leads to healthy surrogate pregnancy, and healthy babies, so we provide the following services:
- Weekly deliveries of organic fruits and vegetables
- Nutritional counseling at the beginning of each trimester, and more often if there is a need
For more information about becoming a surrogate with us, surrogate pregnancy nutrition or preparing to become a gestational surrogate, contact us or call 310 566 1487. If you are ready to apply, you can submit your details through a short application form here.