The period of pregnancy and breastfeeding is very demanding for the female body. This is the time when every expectant mother should pay special attention to her health. We’re often asked about recommended supplements that will support your child’s development at every stage of pregnancy and properly protect the condition of the future mother. The following article contains collected key information about what products to use and how to use them.
Suggestions for supplements are only for information purposes. They should not be treated as medical advice. This article should only serve as a starting point for a conversation between you and your doctor about the best supplements in your particular case.
Why do you need to be supplemented during pregnancy?
Pregnancy and breastfeeding is a woman’s time in life when it’s important to stay vigilant about getting enough nutrients to nourish the developing baby. So briefly. Supplements can be extremely helpful in this. There are also some supplements that should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In both cases – it’s worth asking for the opinion of the attending physician.
Demand for every woman for calories and nutrients will vary, this is a really individual matter. As a rule, a diet rich in nutrients is the most important element to protect the health of a child and mother during pregnancy, and supplements should be treated as an addition to a healthy lifestyle.
Pregnant women should focus on eating:
High quality proteins from high quality sources, poultry and free-range eggs and wild, freshly caught seafood (smaller fish are preferred). Also, the offal is a fantastic dietary supplement and wonderfully protects against, for example, pregnancy anaemia.
Large amounts of vegetables, especially greens! Green vegetables have folic acid (or rather folate), which is important for foetus growth, and is rich in many other nutrients. They help prevent constipation that can sometimes occur during pregnancy and provide a powerful dose of vitamins. During pregnancy it’s worth living according to the motto “When in doubt, eat more vegetables”.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding is not a time to regret healthy fats. High-quality fats are absolutely essential for the development of the child’s brain, organ and tissue growth and good milk production for the mother. Sources of healthy fats are: organic meat, sea fish, olive oil, avocado and nuts.
Other high-quality foods such as home-made bouillon, soups, fermented vegetables such as home-made sauerkraut, fruits (especially berries) and green cocktails are also ideal for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
Supplements during pregnancy
Even with the best balanced diet, it may be difficult to consume enough nutrients during pregnancy. For this reason, it’s worth reaching for some especially composed supplements that will help to fill some shortages:
Folate (not folic acid)
Folic acid supplementation is widely recommended, but there is a significant difference between folic acid (synthetic form) and folate (natural form). In another article (link) on our website we have explained these differences in some detail. Some sources recommend up to 1200 mcg folate per day to get the maximum benefit. When choosing a supplement for yourself, pay attention to whether it contains the natural form of this substance. Folate is one of the supplements that has been thoroughly examined for its use during pregnancy and is extremely effective in the prevention of neural tube defects. It’s also a very inexpensive and easily available option for every pregnant woman. Sample product (folate).
NOTE: People with MTHFR defects will have to consult a specialized physician and will probably have to take L-5-MTHF, which is a methylated form of folic acid.
Multivitamin for pregnant women
Vitamin or mineral deficiency will not cause a huge, immediate impact on an adult person in most cases, but during intense developmental phases of pregnancy, a shortage of nutrients can have lasting consequences for the child. Therefore, it’s worth considering a well-balanced, high-quality multivitamin in this critical period. Among the products available on the market in Poland for some time now, Optimal Prenatal holds the lead – until the last year, the only option to obtain it was private imports from the USA, and at the end of 2017, as the first store in Europe, we introduced the product from Seeking Health.
Many products of this type, intended for pregnant women and nursing women, contain iron, although this is not necessary if you eat red meat and offal.
Probiotics are extremely important for our health, especially during pregnancy. High-quality probiotics help to ensure that your child gets a decent dose of beneficial bacteria during normal delivery (the C-section looks a bit different), which can reduce the risk of ear infections and diseases in the first few years. Good intestinal health also has a huge impact on health throughout life and this is one of the most important things you can do for your child. Probiotics also help mum avoid diseases and constipation during pregnancy and can reduce the risk of infection. Because the intestinal bacteria of a child continue to “grow” during breastfeeding, it’s good for mother to also take probiotics at this time. One of the more frequently recommended for future mothers is Once Daily Prenatal – a specially selected probiotic formula for pregnant women and nursing mothers. It consists of 16 well-acting strains of bacteria of the genus Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Their appropriate action maximizes the content of the prebiotic, which is an excellent medium for their multiplication.
There are many studies confirming that vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy-related complications, including gestational diabetes. It’s important for the development of the bones and endocrine system of the child and supports the mother’s immune system during pregnancy. Some studies suggest that breastfed babies can receive vitamin D from their breast milk to make this happen, nursing must have adequate amounts of this vitamin in their own body! As far as the selection of vitamins and probiotics is a very advanced matter, vitamin D3 is less of a problem. There are many great preparations on the market and most of them will work in their role. However, for people who care about 100% confidence in the product, we recommend the Vitamin D3 product that has been recently tested by us (link to the study article).
Taking into account the pace of modern life and the number of stressors we have to contend with – magnesium should be taken all the time. And during pregnancy, you should pay special attention to it. Severe magnesium deficiency can lead to poor foetal growth, pre-eclampsia and even death. It’s very difficult to get enough magnesium from food sources, so it’s worth reaching for a supplement with this mineral – the best and worst form available in our topic: comparison of supplements with magnesium.
As mentioned earlier – adequate supply of healthy fats during pregnancy is extremely important. DHA and EPA fatty acids may be needed. Among the supplements available on the domestic market containing the advantage of DHA, the following are noteworthy:
Vegetarian DHA Dr. Best
DHA-250 Now Foods
Calamari DHA-500 Dr. Best
Vegetarian DHA 200 Source Naturals
Pure Veg DHA Hepatica
What should be avoided?
Just as a shortage of some things can be dangerous during pregnancy, consumption or contact with other things can be detrimental to the developing child. Generally, these are things that should be avoided during pregnancy (just to say – this is not a full list …):
MSG or chemical additives,
Dietary drinks, light and zero beverages,
Low-quality vegetable oils and trans fats,
Any herbs, medicines or supplements, the use of which we have not agreed with the doctor,
Aluminium in antiperspirants,
High fructose corn syrup,
Artificial dyes and aromas,
Chemical substances in laundry detergents, personal care products and household cleaners.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are a special period in the life of a woman and a child, that we suggest the selection of all supplements and medicines only under the supervision of a doctor. Of course, do not be afraid to suggest your own products, doctors are often unaware of the availability of such products on our market, so they are habituated by the products they know.