How To Get The Right Nutrients Before, During And After Pregnancy
Before, during and after baby comes along, there's so much to get your head around, and so many rules to follow – but making sure you get the right vitamins and nutrients daily is crucial to conceiving, and growing a healthy baby, and fuel recovery for the mother. Here's a little guide to help you along your journey. Good luck!
Folic acid is vital for a healthy pregnancy and women who are even contemplating pregnancy should be taking folic acid as a matter of routine in a comprehensive multivitamin/multimineral. In recent years there has been an increase in the numbers of babies born with neural tube defects. As a result, doctors have been reissuing their advice that all women of child-bearing age should supplement with folic acid, even where conception is not being planned. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and Folic acid should be taken for 14 weeks prior to conception and 12 weeks after.
Don't forget dad
When it comes to fertility, it’s easy to forget that it ‘takes two to tango’ because so much of the emphasis is placed on a woman’s health issues, rather than on her partner. ALL fathers-to-be should prepare their body especially with selenium and zinc in the lead up to conception; a good multivitamin is key. It should contain zinc, folate, and vitamin C for the swimmers to be at their healthiest.
Stock up on Omega 3
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential and can only be obtained from the diet. The requirements during pregnancy have not been established, but likely exceed that of a nonpregnant state. Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neurodevelopment and may be important for the timing of gestation and birth weight as well. Most pregnant women likely do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids because the major dietary source, seafood, during pregnancy is restricted to 2 servings a week. This is a precaution against eating mercury-contaminated seafood. For pregnant women to obtain adequate omega-3 fatty acids, a variety of sources should be consumed: vegetable oils, two low-mercury fish servings a week, and supplements (fish oil or fish sourced docosahexaenoic acid).
According to natural fertility expert, Jessica Bourke, this fat-soluble nutrient has been linked to a reduced risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia, making it a vital fertility nutrient to stock up on. Make sure to get your blood levels checked first so you can figure out if you are deficient or not. For fertility, your blood serum levels should be at least 100-120 nmol/L. And don't forget, once your little bundle arrives, the HSE recommend vitamin D supplements for babies, to help with bone and teeth development, so have one ready before you get to the end of your pregnancy.
These help to lower inflammation within the body and thin the blood, which is useful to reduce the chances of miscarriage due to the blood clotting. In fertility studies, women with healthier levels of omega-3 were found to be more likely to conceive. Few people manage to get sufficient levels through diet alone, which is why a supplement may be necessary.
If you are prone to heavy periods, then you may be at higher risk of iron deficiency, which could reduce your chances of conception. If you often feel tired, weak or have a pale complexion and pale tongue colour, it would be worth getting your iron levels checked to see if you need to supplement. Don’t assume that because you eat red meat, your iron levels will be okay.
If your digestion is compromised, due to stress or illness you may not be able to extract iron properly from your food, so supplementing may become a temporary requirement to ensure your iron levels are healthy enough to support a pregnancy.
Vitamins A, C, E along with Selenium and Zinc are very important for fertility. Vitamin A should be present in the form of Beta Carotene, which is safe during pregnancy, rather than the potentially toxic version, Retinol. Vitamin C and E work together to protect the body from free radical damage, which could potentially impact egg quality. Selenium is very important for women to ensure healthy thyroid function as this could hamper your fertility potential, while Zinc has also been studied extensively for its vital role in reproductive health. Zinc supports hormone balance and the maturation of the egg follicles prior to ovulation, so it should form a part of any anti-oxidant supplement you decide to take.
Your body will need calcium to support a growing baby, but it can't make it, and if you don't consume enough, it will steal it from wherever it can get it, from your bones or teeth to give it to the baby! So making sure you have enough in your diet or via a supplement is key. Try to get at least 1,000mg of calcium every day.
Probiotics for babies
Babies are born with sterile intestines, and a baby's digestive system needs the support of probiotics to adequately develop good intestinal flora, especially if they are not breastfed. Keep this in mind and have some BabyBiotic on-hand when the baby is born, as it's the only one available that is suitable from birth.
Make sure you continue to take a good multi-vit after baby comes along. It's hard to remember to look after YOU – we know, but just work it into your daily routine somehow, and you will help your body heal from the inside after birth.
If you are unsure about which supplements you should always be taking contact your GP or local pharmacist for advice.
This article is brought to you by Sona Nutrition.
Sona is Ireland’s oldest and largest producer of nutritional supplements and herbal remedies (Est 1984). They have an extensive range of products including SonaMultiplus and Sona JointPlan which are available in all good pharmacies and health stores nationwide.
To find out more you can visit their website here.