By Laurel Sterling Prisco, MS, RD, CDN
Congratulations…you are pregnant! Having a baby is one of life’s greatest miracles.
It is essential to look for a prenatal multivitamin that is safe, gentle, easily absorbable, and high-quality without dangerous mega doses. Things to look for in the multi would include:
Magnesium (citrate or glycinate forms): Take 300-500 mg or more because the body’s demand increases during pregnancy (***watch for bowel tolerance)
If not able to tolerate this amount at one time, supplement in divided doses of 250 mg two times a day.
Pre-eclampsia, premature labor, and poor fetal growth are all tied to magnesium deficiency.
Natural Folate (a food source versus synthetic folic acid): Take 800 mcg/day to prevent neural tube defects.
The need for folate more than doubles during pregnancy.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that supplementing with folic acid the first 28 days of pregnancy reduced risk of NTD by 85 percent.
Insufficient folate is linked to low birth weight.
Calcium Citrate: Take 500 mg two times a day in addition to food sources high in calcium.
There is a link between low calcium levels and pregnancy-related hypertension.
Low levels of calcium cause more minerals to be leached from the bones, which is harmful to mother and child.
Vitamin D3 (1,000 IU): Current research shows that pregnant women with higher D levels have babies with stronger bones.
Iron (glycinate or gluconate): Take 20-30 mg a day or more.
Low levels of iron are associated with poor concentration, fatigue, increased infection, and postpartum depression for mothers.
A lack of iron may negatively affect interactions and bonding with baby.
Insufficient iron can cause low birth weight babies, and iron deficiency in infants.
Iodine (from kelp source or an added greens drink):
Iodine is needed for maintaining pregnancy.
A lack of iodine can lead to mental retardation, a learning disability, and poor physical development.
Zinc: Take 10-15mg a day.
Mom can become zinc deficient if supplementing with greater than 30 mg of iron.
Deficiency in mom may result in poor brain formation, learning problems, and low immunity.
Zinc deficiency is also associated with preterm babies.
Vitamin E (mixed tocopherol): Take 200-400 IU a day to help prevent miscarriages.
****NOTE- Discontinue 1-2 weeks before delivery due to a mild blood-thinning effect.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Take 1-2 grams per day from fish oil or high lignan flax oil.
This is critical for proper brain, eye, and nervous system development in utero. Moms pass large amounts to their babies during this time, and deficiencies for her can lead to postpartum depression. Also, any reserve she has is continuously depleted with each child born.
Especially needed the last trimester and 12 weeks after birth. This is when DHA demands are high for proper brain development.
Omega-3 fatty acids increases a child’s immune system and reduces risk of allergies in infants.
Choline: Take 200-500 mg a day to support neurological health and fetal brain development.
Probiotics: Take 1 billion CFU or more. Studies found that women who supplement with Lactobacillus GG during pregnancy and while breast-feeding can lower the risk of the child developing eczema.
Vitamin B6: Taking 10- 25 mg three times a day can help relieve nausea and vomiting. Women taking birth control during months prior to pregnancy may be at risk of B6 deficiency.
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids: Take 500-1,000 mg a day.
Low intakes of vitamin C before and during pregnancy increase the risk of preeclampsia.
Low levels of bioflavonoids are implicated in recurrent miscarriages.
Vitamin C helps with vein and capillary strength, strengthens blood vessels of uterine wall, and tones skin elasticity.
Herbs: A variety of herbs can be used for numerous issues one may encounter during pregnancy. Make sure the herbs are “class 1” (safe for use during pregnancy) according to the Botanical Safety Handbook of the American Herbal Products Association. Also some herbs have the potential for causing miscarriages or other serious problems; therefore, one should consult with an experienced and knowledgeable practitioner for their proper usage. A safe example is taking ginger for nausea.
Homeopathic remedies: These will vary depending on the issue. An example is taking Ipecac, Nux vomica, or Nat mur for morning sickness.
Aromatherapy: certain essential oils are safe topically. Safe examples are lavender and chamomile for nausea or fennel and anise for heartburn.
Light yoga or Pilates
***Please be sure to consult with a qualified practitioner (Ob-Gyn or midwife) who will work with you to set up an appropriate individualized plan pertaining to your specific challenges and health concerns.