Let's Talk SUPPLEMENTS - Prenatal Vitamin and Supplement Support
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Hey y'all! Today I want to share with you the vitamins and supplements I take during each stage of my pregnancy. Just to remind you, I am not here to give you medical advice! When you are starting any new vitamins or supplements during your pregnancy, always talk to your doctor or midwife to make sure it's right for you and your baby.
A little bit of background as to why I'm SO passionate about taking the right vitamins and supplements during pregnancy... Prior to getting pregnant with my son, Weston, my husband and I struggled with infertility for about two years. I sought out care with a Naturopath who specialized in fertility and pregnancy. It was such a breath of fresh air to have a provider that was not just telling us we needed ALLLLL of the interventions right away, IVF, IUI, etc. to conceive. We had been told by our doctor that we must see a fertility specialist. And they immediately told us that we should go right to IVF because nothing else may work based on my husband's sperm analysis and my hormone levels. Like... WHAT. I will go into this in another post. But my husband and I are both young, healthy, and I refused to have someone tell me that there was absolutely no other diet or lifestyle changes we could make to help us conceive. Our naturopath was so encouraging and told us that we would really benefit from starting certain vitamins and supplements. We conceived very quickly after that. I have always believed that there is more to our health and wellness than what western medicine often teaches us. So often we miss out on important PREVENTATIVE health care, and we don't get the proper advice or resources for optimizing our wellness in a holistic and natural way without intervention. I trust modern medicine, and I am truly passionate about the nursing profession. But I believe there must be a BALANCE to our health and wellness. I believe we can achieve optimum health and wellness through diet and lifestyle changes, as well as through improving our mental and emotional health as well. But I digress...
All of the supplements I take during my pregnancies are recommended by my naturopath and approved by my OBGYN. I promise I am not leading you to take anything that will negatively impact your health or your baby's health! But PLEASE consult your doctor/midwife first.
FIRST TRIMESTER SUPPLEMENTS:
During the first trimester of my first pregnancy, I AGONIZED over what brand of prenatal vitamin to take. Some made me feel really sick, I wanted the ingredients to be exactly what we needed, and I wanted a vitamin combo that could be readily used by my body. And lets just be honest here, taking pills is just the WORST during the first trimester. When you feel so yucky already, it's really tough to convince yourself to take more vitamins during this time. So I keep the first trimester simple, yet it's important to know that baby needs vitamin and supplement support ESPECIALLY during the first trimester. So try your best to find the right vitamins for you! My prenatal vitamin regimen includes:
MegaFood Baby and Me 2 Food Based Prenatal Vitamin - There are so many great prenatal vitamin brands out there. Just choose what's right for you! This vitamin made me feel the best and least nauseous after taking it. What is really important when choosing a prenatal is getting the right type of Folate. I choose to avoid the synthetic version of Folate (Folic Acid) during pregnancy due to the chance that Folic Acid can only be absorbed and broken down into a usable state by some women's bodies. And Folate is one of the most important vitamins for our little ones, so it is too important to me to get the right one! L-5-Methyltetrahydrafolate is what you want to look for if you are choosing this route. It is more readily available and absorbable for our bodies.
Extra Folate - I Take 800mg extra of Methylfolate during all trimesters of pregnancy as recommended by my naturopath. This helps baby to develop properly, helps the spinal cord to form properly and close, and prevents neural tube defects. Prenatal Vitamins often don't contain enough in one dose, so I take extra methylfolate to make sure my baby gets what they need. Plus, these are really small, easy pills to take!
Vitamin D - I take 5000 iu of Vitamin D during pregnancy. My naturopath recommends 2000-5000 iu during pregnancy. There are so many benefits of taking this amount of Vitamin D. My naturopath has guided me and strongly recommends this, and it is OB approved. This can help our overall health and immune system so much, and so many of us are lacking natural vitamin D from the sun. The benefits for baby include preventing allergies/eczema and protecting and strengthening their immune systems. I find that Vitamin D Drops are super easy to take during pregnancy! They have no taste, and can be placed in juice, smoothies, yogurt, etc.
Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA - DHA is so important for little one's brain development! It is also great for our bodies, our immune systems, mood, and overall wellness. I trust the Nordic Naturals brand because of where they source their fish in creating their vitamins, and they are super easy to take! A tip about DHA is to stop taking these after 37 weeks. When you are preparing for labor, these can sometimes be associated with delaying the onset of labor.
First trimester vitamin tips - If you are struggling to take your vitamins during this yucky phase of pregnancy, you are not alone! How I get through this include always taking them with whatever food sounds good at the time. Usually it's yogurt, or orange juice, apple sauce, or toast and peanut butter. I like to take them at night during the first trimester, have a snack, and then go right to bed to avoid feeling that yucky feeling that sometimes follows. Mornings are a "no-go" for me for taking pills during the first trimester! Usually I am barely making it to eat my breakfast in time before the queasiness sets in, so no pills in the morning for me!
SECOND AND THIRD TRIMESTER SUPPLEMENTS:
During the second trimester, I maintain ALL of the vitamins that I take during the first trimester, and add in a few... Usually I'm starting to feel better, less nauseous, and normal foods sound good to me again! (Phew!) I'm not as grossed out by taking pills (as badly at least). These are the vitamins/supplements I add to my regimen during the second trimester:
Calcium Magnesium Powder - Both of these vitamins are so important for you and baby, and they go hand in hand! I give myself grace during the first trimester, and just add them in for the second and third trimester. Calcium is really important because baby is taking all of your calcium to grow and develop their little bones. They usually get enough, but we get deprived! You need the extra calcium support on top of what is in our prenatal vitamin. Magnesium is great to prevent preterm labor, support and nourish our muscles, and help with our sleep, decrease anxiety, and improve our mood! I recommend taking this combo powder at night to get the full benefits that magnesium can have for our sleep. (The pregnancy insomnia gets real for me around the 2nd and 3rd trimester!)
Choline - I take Choline in Powdered form. This is for baby's growing and developing brain. Choline is found in eggs (cooked free range vegetarian fed eggs are great for nourishing both you and baby during pregnancy!), but you would have to eat a LOT of eggs to get the amount that baby needs. This is easy on my tummy, and I mix it with my calcium/magnesium powder in orange juice at night before bed.
Probiotic - I add in a probiotic at this time because I cannot seem to keep a probiotic down at ALL during my first trimester! I take these at night to avoid feeling yucky afterwards, but usually I do great with them after my first trimester nausea subsides. Probiotics are great for promoting a healthy gut flora. We NEED a good amount of healthy bacteria in our guts to help fight against the bad ones that come along. Gut health is SO important for your overall health and wellness. Optimum gut health can helps us to digest foods and actually absorb the nutrients from the foods that we eat. It also plays a roll in our mental health (believe it or not), and reduces our bodies overall inflammation by protecting and strengthening our gut lining from letting foreign invaders enter our blood stream. They can make a world of difference in how we feel on every level, I highly recommend probiotics and probiotic promoting foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, etc. But during pregnancy, probiotics can also help baby's health. They can prime baby's gut flora to be healthy and strong, help prevent them from developing allergies/eczema/asthma down the road, AND they can protect us from harboring GBS in our vaginal flora which can be very to harmful if baby gets exposed via the birth canal during delivery. GBS is something your OB or midwife will assess you for closer to delivery, and they will typically give you antibiotics prior to delivery if they find GBS in your vaginal flora. But we can naturally avoid that by taking a healthy probiotic. The specific strains of bacteria to look for in a prenatal probiotic for protecting us against GBS overgrowth is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Lactobacillus Reuteri.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea - You can drink this in a tea, or they have chews that you can buy with the therapeutic amount that are really tasty and easy to take! I personally like both! Sometimes I will drink the tea, but if I'm on the go I like to keep the chews in my purse so that I get the therapeutic amount every single day. I can't stress enough how important this is to strengthen and prepare our uterus for labor! This can help us to have shorter labors, more efficient contractions, and for our uterus to recover quickly after birth. You want to start Red Raspberry Leaf Tea somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd trimester. It is completely safe to drink during the 2nd trimester, and does not increase the risk of premature labor or early contractions! It simply nourishes and strengthens your uterine muscle, promoting a smooth and healthy labor.
Ok, I know what you're thinking... "She is crazy, no one can take that many pills!". That's kind of what I thought when my naturopath started recommending all of these vitamins and supplements during pregnancy. What I have to remind myself is that pregnancy is such a short, temporary time. I want to be my healthiest self during pregnancy for both me and baby, and I want baby to have the best chance of developing properly. I want what is best for both me and my baby when I'm pregnant, so I encourage myself every day to take my vitamins and supplements, eat nourishing foods, maintain a peaceful and calm state for both me and baby, and get plenty of exercise for my body. This sounds like a lot, and some days it is. If you have a day where you just CANNOT get these pills down, or you are craving that cheeseburger... mama eat that cheeseburger! Lay on the couch! Take that nap! Eat the chocolate bar! You have to find balance in your life. Do not beat yourself up for not being perfect in your pregnancy, because I guarantee you are the perfect mama for your baby. I have good days and bad days. And on my best days, I try to set myself up for success taking all of the nourishing vitamins and supplements so that when I slip up on my bad days, I can just let it go! We are not perfect mamas, and we never will be. And our babies need us perfectly imperfect.
There are other specific herbs and supplements that you can add to your regimen for certain things you may be struggling with (heartburn, insomnia, anxiety, depression, aches and pains, etc.). I will go a little more in depth about my experience with other herbal remedies in a later post. But for now, this is my basic prenatal regimen!
I hope you found some benefit in this post! Even if you take one little thing away from this post, or decide a certain vitamin is right or wrong for you and baby, I hope this gave you some guidance on your journey! So much of my pregnancy journeys include consulting with other trusted women about what they have experienced. That is what I hope to do for you! I don't want you to just copy exactly what I do, because it's not perfect and may not be exactly what your body and your baby needs! I want you to talk it out with your doctor, think it through, do the research that helps you feel good about your decision, and then decide what's right for you.
Soon I will be posting about specific foods that are beneficial to promote a healthy pregnancy and labor, because nutrition and supplements definitely go hand in hand. Have a great day mamas! Stay well!