While the majority of your nutrients should be in your food, when that’s not possible, supplements are needed. Like everything you put in your body, you must be critical when choosing supplements as they can be manufactured with cheap synthetics and laced with hidden ingredients. The quality of your supplements play a major role in their effectiveness and in helping to correct the imbalance they were intended for. Remember to always talk with your health care provider before taking any supplement.
Preconception must haves:
Prenatal Multivitamin - A good prenatal should be taken 3-6 months prior to trying to conceive. This is very important in making sure your body is healthy from the very beginning of pregnancy. Most prenatal vitamins will have folate in them which is key in the very first weeks in fetal development. The better quality prenatals will have a non-constipating form of iron and will be easily absorbed as not to add any digestive issues to your pregnancy.
Folic Acid (folate, B9, 5-MTHF) - This one is especially important for women older than 30 years old. Folic acid is used by the body to manufacture DNA, which is required for rapid cell division and organ/ tissue formation in the developing baby. Most expectant mothers are aware of the need to supplement with folic acid during pregnancy to prevent neural tube developmental problems in the fetus. To my knowledge, it may be the one and only supplement recommended by most doctors. 5-MTHF is the most bio-available form of folate available and is what I recommend. The liver and intestines must be healthy for proper absorption of folate (again suggesting the importance of probiotics).
Both of these are recommended to be taken throughout pregnancy. If you are having morning sickness and unable to keep down your prenantal vitamin consider trying a different brand or switching to just a folate supplement as these are sometimes easier to digest.
Probiotics can help resolve many different digestive issues including constipation diarrhea, gas, and bloating. Probiotics replenish intestinal flora (healthy bacteria) and promote overall digestive and immune health (amongst many other health benefits). The road to health is paved with good intestines. Quality is key with probiotics. A therapeutic dosage of probiotics should be > 10 billion CFU (colony forming units) per day. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are the two strains that best address both small and large intestine. Probiotics work best if the consumer also has regular intake of prebiotics (which feed the probiotics) such as legumes and fruit. *Be sure to drink filtered water as chlorine (an antibiotic) will destroy the probiotics.
During pregnancy constipation can be a difficult issue. Probiotics are a safe and effective way to keep things moving along with these helpful tips:
Include more fiber in your diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Keep your water and fluid intake optimum. Lack of water often causes constipation.
Continue some physical activity during pregnancy after a consultation with your doctor. Physical movement is beneficial for bowel health. Even moderate walking may be beneficial for your bowel health during pregnancy.
Discontinue or reduce the dose of your iron supplements and use food sources for your body’s iron needs.
Another supplement that is helpful for resolving constipation is magnesium citrate. Magnesium citrate is the salt of magnesium. It is a saline laxative, which increases water content in the small intestine to produce a bowel movement. It is also called an osmotic laxative as it retains water in the stools for easy bowel movements. Magnesium citrate also increases stool’s bulk with the increased water content
Aches, Pains, Restless Leg Syndrome and the Magic of Magnesium
Restless Leg Syndrome can cause unpleasant sensations in your legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them. And it can interfere with your sleep.It can also make it almost impossible to get a good night’s rest. This can leave you feeling fatigued, adding to the other discomforts of your third trimester of pregnancy. Doctors aren’t sure why pregnant women are prone to RLS. It may be related to a dopamine imbalance, mineral deficiencies, or hormonal changes. Try adding a daily magnesium supplement especially at night to help calm your restless legs. Also think about drinking coconut water daily as it has trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium which can become deficient near the end of pregnancy.
The above recommendations can be used for muscle cramps during pregnancy as well.
Iron Deficiency and Vegetarians:
During pregnancy, easy to digest non-constipating iron supplements are key, especially for pregnant women diagnosed with iron deficiency. These supplements should also include folate and B12 as deficiencies of these vitamins can cause or further exacerbate an iron deficiency. Supplementation is especially important for most vegetarians or vegans. Iron helps carry oxygen to every cell in your body. If you are iron deficient, your cells (and your little embryo) may not be receiving the essential life force from the breath you are taking.
Preparing for Labour with Evening Primrose Oil and Red Raspberry Tea
Evening primrose oil prepares the body for labour by ripening the cervix. When you take the oil orally, the body converts certain substances in the oil into prostaglandins. Prostaglandins ripen the cervix, getting it ready for labour. Once the cervix ripens, contractions follow and could lead to labour. When taking evening primrose oil, it’s important to follow dosage recommendations carefully. Midwives typically recommend starting at week 38, by taking three to four 500mg capsules per day.Some may recommend inserting the oil vaginally. Others may recommend using the oil for perineal massage, which further softens the cervix and prevents episiotomy. Be sure to follow the advice of your doctor or midwife.
Red raspberry leaf tea comes from the leaves of the red raspberry plant. This herbal tea has been used for centuries to support respiratory, digestive and uterine health, particularly during pregnancy and childbearing years. Most midwives recommend waiting until 36 weeks to begin drinking red raspberry leaf tea. Studies have shown that red raspberry leaf tea can help to make labor faster and reduce complications and interventions during birth. One study found that women who consumed the tea regularly are less likely to go overdue or give birth prematurely. These women may also be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth than the women in the control group. Red raspberry leaf has many other benefits to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum too including:
Improves the effectiveness of contractions.
Improve strength of amniotic sac.
Reduced pain during labor and after birth.
By toning the muscles used during labor and delivery, labor may be shorter and less painful.
Helps balance postpartum hormones.
High mineral count helps bring in breast milk for many women.