One of the most exciting times in a woman’s life is finding that there will be a new life coming their way in nine months. Although pregnancy is a wonderful phase, it can also be very tricky to ensure the mother-to-be and baby’s health. Doctors and nutritionists alike believe that taking vitamins and supplements while pregnant can ensure optimum health for the growing child and mother.
Why take vitamins during pregnancy?
When women find out they are pregnant, it’s very likely that they can be weeks or even months along in gestation. While the body is preparing for the birth, the nutritional intake of the mother often stays the same. Therefore, to ensure that the mother and baby’s nutritional needs are met and the baby hits all its developmental key milestones (in relation to growth and formation) during the pregnancy, vitamins are an essential part of the mother’s health regime.
Which vitamins are best to take?
Before conception and in the early stages of pregnancy it is recommended to take 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid. This supplement is crucial for the baby’s brain and spinal development and is said to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida by up to 70%.
Another important supplement to consider taking while pregnant is iodine. This essential vitamin helps to develop your baby’s nervous system, plays an important role in regulating your thyroid glands and in producing the thyroid hormone thyroxine, which regulates your metabolism.
As the baby grows into the later months, the blood supply will be increased and therefore anaemia can set in. To avoid this, organic iron supplements such as iron amino acid chelate can be beneficial, as is calcium, as the baby’s bones are forming and will require the additional nutrients. If additional supplements are required, look for ones that also contain vitamin C as it aids in absorption. A non-acidic vitamin C such as calcium ascorbate is more gentle on the stomach.
It can sometimes be difficult to maintain a balanced diet fit for pregnancy due to nutritional choices (being vegetarian or vegan), allergies or just not having the time. In these cases, a multi-vitamin can lift the mother’s nutritional intake. However, choosing a pregnancy multi-vitamin as opposed to a regular woman’s multi-vitamin is preferred as they often contain more iron and folate and have lower levels of vitamin A which can be potentially harmful to the unborn child.
Finally, it is important throughout the pregnancy to listen to your doctor and your body. Not only is your body going through an immense change, but so is the baby. The nutritional plan that is followed during the pregnancy can often impact the baby, not only whilst in the womb, but for years to come. Make sure that every effort is taken to adhere to the doctor’s advice and follow a well balanced, healthy diet and vitamin supplement plan.