So, you have found out that you’re pregnant and now you’re standing in the supplement aisle with hundreds of bottle staring back at you. What should you be taking? What supplements does your baby need?
Are prenatal vitamins really necessary?
Yes! During pregnancy, your body’s need for nutrients increases and the increased demands are very difficult to meet through diet alone, even if your diet is close to perfect.
Essential supplements during pregnancy
- A good prenatal vitamin helps you get necessary nutrients your diet may lack. Look for a prenatal vitamin that has at least 1 mg of folic acid, iron, and no more than 10,000 IU of vitamin A. If constipation is plaguing you, choose a prenatal with iron citrate as it is non-constipating and easier on the stomach.
- Omega-3 fish oils, especially DHA, are necessary for the development of the brain during pregnancy and the first two years of life. Research shows that women who supplement their diets with fish oils have children with higher IQs.
- Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D3 are essential for bone health and to prevent muscle cramps that may occur in the legs during pregnancy. Studies also show that taking calcium during pregnancy can reduce the incidence of high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Calcium helps the baby’s bones and teeth develop, and research also indicate that postpartum women getting sufficient calcium return to their pre-pregnancy weight more easily.
- Vitamin D3 taken during pregnancy has been found to reduce the future risk of the child developing diabetes. New guidelines recommend 2000 IU during pregnancy. If you’re lacking vitamin D during pregnancy, your baby may be short on the vitamin at birth. This can put your child at risk for Rickets, abnormal bone growth, and delayed physical development.
- Folic acid can reduce your baby’s risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly by 50 to 70 percent. The first trimester is very important since it is the period when major organs are developed. The new guideline is 5 mg per day.
- Red raspberry tea is the best known, most widely used, and safest of all uterine and pregnancy tonic herbs. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from a relaxed or atonic uterus. By toning the muscles used during labor and delivery, raspberry leaf eliminates many of the reasons for a painful delivery and prolonged recovery.
- Evening primrose oil is used to help induce labor. It contains Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA), a good source of prostaglandins, which helps soften the cervix and prepare it to open. It may cause contractions, so do not take evening primrose oil until you are at least 34 weeks into your pregnancy.
If you experience an upset stomach from your supplements, try taking your supplements at bedtime. Your health care provider may also recommend taking supplements after a meal because you’re likely to tolerate it better on a full stomach.