Basic Supplements for a Healthy Pregnancy

Basic Supplements for a Healthy Pregnancy

Are you confused with the myriad of pregnancy supplements out there, and wondering how to make the best choices that are good for you & baby while at the same time not depleting your budget? Have you wondered, too, which supplements are key and which aren’t actually necessary? And which supplements are going to actually provide you with the nutrients you need? And what are the basic supplements you should focus on? You’re certainly not alone in your musings!

As a midwife and a mom, I’ve had the same questions. I also know that it can be overwhelming to sort through brands, AND remember to take multiple vitamins and pills every day, especially if they have to happen at different times. I also want to make sure the moms and babies I’m caring for are getting the nutrients they need, which means NOT relying on the cheapest brands and options. If you’ve spent any amount of time researching options, you know that there lots of things to consider as you think about vitamins and supplements. Ideally, you want to use a brand that focuses on whole foods, organic sources, and includes bio-available nutrients (such as folate instead of synthetic folic acid). Of course, these vitamins aren’t going to be the cheapest ones available, which means that you will want to choose wisely, and consider using fewer supplements and making sure the ones you ARE taking are high-quality!

For those who have wondered, here is a list of the basic supplements that I routinely recommend to clients. Of course, more need to be added in the presence of specific conditions, but for most moms, these are the basics that I would encourage any mom to take during pregnancy (and while you’re nursing!):

For special considerations, these are typically the first recommendations:

  • B Vitamin (if dealing with low energy especially: your midwife can do blood tests to determine if it’s caused in part by a B vitamin or folate deficiency).
  • Iron (if low energy seems to be iron deficiency related)
  • Magnesium drink at night before bedtime to help promote restful sleep: Natural Calm
  • Trace Minerals to help with restless legs, leg cramps, muscle soreness: ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops

Most moms with low-risk pregnancies who are consuming a high-quality diet don’t need more than these to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby! For more information on understanding diet & supplements and their effect on mom and baby’s health (and what ingredients are important to be aware of!), I’d highly encourage you to check out the following sites:

Dr. Aviva Romm on Prenatal Vitamins

Lily Nichols on Folate vs. Folic Acid

Lily Nichols-information on diet and nutrition during pregnancy

And finally, if you’re looking for a place to purchase vitamins and supplements, I encourage all my clients to check out www.vitacost.com, as I typically find the best prices at that site!

I’d love to hear what prenatal vitamins and other supplements have worked for you! Feel free to share in the comments below so we can all learn together. And be sure to share this post with other moms that might benefit from the links and information!

Boosting Energy During Pregnancy

Boosting Energy During Pregnancy

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If you’re like me, one of the huge challenges of pregnancy (especially early pregnancy!) is the severe lack of energy. Honestly, if you stop and think about it, your body is pouring so much into making a tiny baby that there just isn’t enough energy to do much else! While you might KNOW that your productivity can’t be measured by what you get done visibly, it can be hard when you feel like there isn’t enough of mommy to go around to all the needs at home.

In this post, I want to share a few tips that might help you get through pregnancy while keeping your energy levels up. There are many different factors in the equation, and honestly each one could be the subject of a separate post. For instance, a diet that is low in simple carbs & sugars, and has a good array of healthful fats and proteins can make a big difference for some women. To get more pointers on this, I’d highly recommend reading Lily Nichol’s book Real Food for Pregnancy. Another factor is getting some sunshine and movement (a walk outside can help immensely!). Yet another factor is finding ways to curb morning sickness (this is another topic on my mind for a future post).

While you may find that early on in your pregnancy you may have to forego your prenatal vitamins due to sickness (did you know prenatal vitamins can sometimes make you feel worse those first months?!? My personal philosophy is that if the vitamins keep you from keeping food down, then it’s best to scrap them for awhile!), once you’re able to take pills again, it’s key to find a quality vitamin. Getting adequate levels of minerals, as well as easy-to-absorb forms of folate, B12 and other vitamins can all contribute to boosting your energy levels. Check your labels to make sure that your vitamins contain folate (and NOT the synthetic form called folic acid), and that the B vitamins are methylated in order to promote absorption. This article on Folic acid vs. Folate may help you to better understand the difference, and why it matters.

Whether you can take your prenatal vitamins or not, I’ve found that supplementing with additional B vitamins can be a huge help, especially during the early months when your body is working so hard and fetal development is so rapidly taking place. During one of my pregnancies, I found that B vitamin injections provided me with some relief from morning sickness as well as boosted my energy levels, and when those weren’t available for me for my most recent pregnancy, I spent some time researching other options. I stumbled upon this gem, and found it to be an incredible energy boost: Max Stress B is a fermented, liquid B complex that provides a combination of B vitamins in a form your body can utilize quickly. Another helpful supplement is a B complex lozenge, which you can slip under your tongue before getting out of bed in the morning, and/or take throughout the day. Two brands I have appreciated are Jarrow  and Seeking Health. If you are only looking for B12, I find that these lozenges are great when you need an extra boost and mama doesn’t have time or opportunity for a nap: Jarrow B12. I even keep these on hand and use them when I’m up all night at births!

Low iron (anemia) can also be a reason for low energy, though sometimes this can even be corrected by the above B vitamins, as some types of anemia are actually caused by a B12 and folate deficiency (your midwife or care provider should be able to determine whether this is the cause by looking at your prenatal blood work). If your hemaglobin is actually low, then some suggestions would include supplementing with a plant-based whole-foods iron supplement such as  Garden of Life Iron,  adding daily doses of liquid chlorophyll, and even regularly consuming Blackstrap Molasses , all of which can help to gently increase your iron levels. If you need more iron suggestions and information, check out this article from Mama Natural on anemia during pregnancy.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started, and if you’ve found something that helps you with maintaining good energy levels during pregnancy, I would love to hear about it. And if you try any of these recommendations, let me know how it works for you. I love getting feedback and knowing what works for different people!