Planning for pregnancy can be an exciting time! Whether it’s your first time being pregnant or your third, there is a lot of excitement and possibly some other emotions such as fear and worry.
If you are planning on getting pregnant soon or are already pregnant ensuring you are taking a good prenatal vitamin is very important. Think of your prenatal vitamin like an insurance policy on your pregnancy. It ensures you and your baby are getting all of the nutrients you both need.
When it comes to prenatal vitamins there are a lot to choose from and it can be overwhelming.
The following is a list a few of the nutrients that you want to ensure are included in your prenatal vitamin and why:
1) Folic Acid
This is necessary to be supplementing with pre-conception and continues to be important throughout the pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is estimated that over 50% of congenital anomalies can be prevented by ensuring an adequate folic acid intake.
Folic acid supplementation reduces the risk of heart defects, urinary tract anomalies, oral facial clefts, pyloric stenosis and limb defects.
Folic acid should be taken for a couple of months preconception until about 4-6 weeks after breast feeding stops.
Dosing can be anywhere from 1mg-5mg a day and depends on an individual needs. Speak to your health care provider about how much is adequate for you!
2) Vitamin D
Maternal deficiency of Vitamin D is associated with lower birth weights. Vitamin D has been linked to immune system and lung development in utero, and studies show that higher Vitamin D intake by pregnant women reduces asthma risk by as much as 40% in children 3-5 years old.
Having your Vitamin D levels checked is a great way to ensure you are supplementing with the correct dose to reach optimal serum levels.
Fetal accumulation of iron occurs primarily during the last trimester. Maternal stores will satisfy the fetus and leave the mother deficient. This is why it is important to have your iron levels check preconception to ensure you are taking an adequate dose of iron.
A common complaint with iron supplementation is that it causes a lot of stomach upset. Try a bysglycinate or citrate form instead of a fumarate form. These are better absorbed and cause less digestive upset.
4) Essential Fatty Acids
DHA is necessary for brain and nervous tissue growth in your babe. One study found that supplementing with fish oil from 20 weeks to delivery showed infants with better hand eye coordination and they were better in all areas of development including social, speech, hearing, performance and practical reasoning.
Supplementing with essential fatty acids can also prevent post-partum depression.
When looking for the best pre-natal vitamin for you, talk to your healthcare provider! Please feel welcome to connect if you have any questions!
Guest Blog written by:
Stacey Goldman, BSc, ND
The Spark Institute