List of Suggested Natural Supplements in Pregnancy
From Conception onward
Taking a good quality multivitamin/multi-mineral while you are pregnant is very beneficial to both you and your growing baby. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure in mothers, decreases the risk of birth defects for babies and has been linked to a decrease in childhood cancer rates. If you are nauseous in the first trimester and can’t tolerate a multivitamin try to add it back into your diet as soon as you feel better.
Iron deficiency is the #1 complication of pregnancy and studies have shown that only 1 in 5 women start their pregnancy with adequate levels of iron in their blood. Iron is found on our red blood cells and is necessary to help carry oxygen to all the cells in your body. During pregnancy your blood volume increases and red blood cells becomes diluted by 50% thus iron levels normally decrease. This is why it is so important to maintain good stores.
If your midwife suggests that you may have reduced stores of iron you should consider a supplement. We recommend Floridix as a first line supplement. It is easy absorbed by your body and does not cause any complications of more concentrated iron supplements. For more info regarding Floridix visit: http://www.florahealth.com/
Dosages: Take 10-25ml in a small glass of juice twice a day away from dairy or caffeine.
Vitamin D is essential for absorption of calcium; it helps to regulate our sugar metabolism (insulin) and supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin D is most often obtained through exposure to the sun or through fortified dairy products. Children born to mothers low in Vitamin D show lower bone masses and growth by age 10. Low levels have also been linked to the onset of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
Essential fatty acids are ‘essential’ because they are required by the body for growth and development and must be obtained from the diet.
There have been numerous new studies that have been researching the benefits of EFA supplementation in pregnancy. Most of the research suggests that the best EFA for pregnancy is DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish oils. Studies have linked DHA supplementation with an increase in infant IQ, improved social behaviour, improved vision and hearing, and a reduced risk of eczema.
DHA has been shown to also be helpful to mothers with demonstrated reductions in the rates of preterm labour, preeclampsia and enhanced immune function.
Dosages: Finding a blend of DHA/GLA is best but not necessary. Aim for 1-2g/day
From 28 weeks to term
Raspberry Leaf Tea/tablets
Raspberry leaf tea has been used for generations as a uterine tonic (helps to tone the uterus) and aid in the preparation for childbirth. Several midwifery led studies have demonstrated that women who begin taking raspberry leaf between 28 and 34 weeks in their pregnancy had a shorter labour with no identified side effects for the women or their babies. Women were also found to require an artificial rupture of membranes, caesarean section, forceps or vacuum birth less often than women who did not use the preparation. Dosages: Tablets:2 300-400mg tablets with meals from 32 weeks onward Tea: 2nd trimester: 2 cups a day 3rd trimester: 4-5 cups a day. Let the tea steep for 10-15 mins.
The world health organization defines probiotics as, “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host". Probiotic use in pregnancy is has been shown to be beneficial in many applications:
- Improve immune function specifically, reducing the risk of urinary tract infection and hospital acquired infections,
- Decrease gastrointestinal upset (constipation and diarrhea),
- Improve absorption of beneficial fatty acids and nutrient from our diet,
- Shown to reduce the risk of swabbing positive for Group B Strep at term (ask your midwife about this test or refer to the GBS section of the website),
- Help maintain a proper vaginal pH, prevent and help cure yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Probiotics exist in many strains. Most of the probiotics beneficial to our intestinal is found in high quality yogurts and have names like Lactobacillus acidophilus health and Lactobacillus casei. Strains found to target the female lower genital tract and aid in digestion includes names such as, L rhamnosus GR-1, L reuteri RC-14, and Saccharomyces boulardii.. If you visit your local health food store do some label reading and see what you can find.
Dosages: for digestive health and possible prevention of GBS at term take 2-3 times a day from 28-30 weeks onward. Natures Way Primadophilus® Reuteri supplies both Rhamnosus and Reuteri. It can be taken in capsules which should stay in the fridge or ‘pearls’ which are shelf life stable and don’t have to stay in the fridge.
For Birth and Postpartum
This is a homeopathic preparation that heal swelling, bruising and tissue. It will be beneficial to take right after birth and for the first week postpartum. Dosages:Take three times a day or as often as you like. Remember, like all homeopathics, the pellets should dissolve under your tongue and they should be taken away from food or any taste in your mouth (eg. Gum/ toothpaste).
Continue to take your prenatal vitamins, EFAs and iron....they will aid in postpartum recovery and speed healing!