This post concludes the pregnancy series, at least for now. If you missed some of the earlier ones, here they are:
As with all of these pregnancy related articles, I’m sharing what I’ve done and some of the reasoning behind it. Not every situation is the same, and health is very unique to the individual. What works for me may not be best for you. Click here for a complimentary session if you’re looking for help with pre-pregnancy or pregnancy nutrition.
Like I mentioned in my morning sickness article, your nutrient status pre pregnancy is so important, particularly because by the time your first trimester rolls around you might be like me and completely unable to eat anything remotely nutritious (or your supplements might make you throw up…true story)! Best to work on this ahead of time.
I was taking a prenatal vitamin for about a year leading up to actually getting pregnant. You can think of a prenatal like a multivitamin with higher levels of the B vitamins, particular folate, which is important to prevent major congenital deformities of the brain or spine, including neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
I take/took the Thorne Prenatal because it has the active form of folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). Folic acid is actually the synthetic form of vitamin B9. The problem with the synthetic form is that not everyone properly converts folic acid to its active form, folate. By taking the active form (5-MTHF), you’re simply removing one step and making better use of what you’re taking.
**From a food perspective, high-folate foods include asparagus, avocados, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens such as spinach.
During pregnancy, more iron is needed primarily to supply the growing baby and placenta and to increase the mother’s red blood cell mass. You’ll feel lousy if you have low iron or are anemic. Baby will get what little iron you have, leaving you (even more) exhausted. If you’re curious about the symptoms, causes and solutions for low iron, I’ve got an entire article here.
I struggled with low iron for a long time, particularly around my Celiac diagnosis. I also tried iron supplements that left me constipated and icky feeling. Pre pregnancy, my iron levels were finally up in a good range, and I know it’s from the combination of iron supplements I was taking, with digestive enzymes to enhance the absorption. I took Pranin Organic iron powder in combination with Thorne Ferrasorb. Now, I’m just taking Ferrasorb to maintain my levels because baby can end up taking lots of your iron! Most prenatal vitamins also contain some iron too.
Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neurodevelopment and may be important for the timing of gestation and birth weight as well. (Source) Omega 3s are also anti-inflammatory, and may help decrease the incidences of food allergies, though there isn’t a lot of research on this. Furthermore, for high-risk pregnant women, omega-3 fatty acid intake seemed to have an important effect on reducing spontaneous premature births.
That being said, it’s also recommended not to eat fish more than twice a week during pregnancy due to heavy metals. I personally have had NO interest in fish, especially cooking it at home, so am likely not getting enough from my diet right now. I have an Omega 3 liquid from NutraSea and when able to tolerate it, will take Cod Liver Oil for its vitamin A & D.
This is something I would have been taking anyways, but is also important for pregnancy. Not only is vitamin D important for mood, the immune system and more, it’s also important for bone health and helps with the absorption of calcium.
One study found that women deficient in vitamin D were more likely to have children with low scores (bottom 25 percent) in pre-school development tests for gross and fine motor development at age 2½ years than children of vitamin D sufficient mothers. There’s also evidence that vitamin D plays a role in lung development.
I personally am not strict on this one if I’ve been out in the sun that day, but as we all know, lots of Canadians don’t get adequate vitamin D. That being said, the Cod Liver Oil and Cal-Mag I’m taking both contain some vitamin D.
In my first trimester, I had debilitating restless leg syndrome. By debilitating, I mean it woke me up in the night and would keep me up. As soon as I started eating enough again, this resolved itself. Magnesium can help with restless leg syndrome though and is safe during pregnancy.
I have a family history of osteoporosis so need to keep my calcium levels up too though, so chose to take the liquid Cyto Matrix Cal-Mag-D. It is blueberry flavoured and tastes delicious. Most prenatal vitamins have some calcium in them too.
If, like me, you don’t consume a lot of cow’s dairy, here are some sources of non-dairy calcium: tofu, sardines, sesame seeds, collard greens, spinach and beet greens.
I’d be taking this anyway, but much of baby’s microbiome is influenced by the mother, so I want to keep my gut health as good as possible! I’m currently alternating between Metagenics Ultra Flora Balance and Genuine Health’s Advanced Gut Health Probiotic.
Last but not least, here’s a little bump pic from this past weekend. Things sure are growing and changing quickly (now that I have an appetite again!)
If you'd like to purchase any of these supplements, you can create an account here to order anywhere in Canada.