Pregnancy is exciting. It’s wonderful. However, it puts your body through extreme stress while you grow a human from a tiny embryo. Suddenly your body is interconnected with this little being developing inside you who is dependent on you for all of their nutritional and developmental needs.
Why Take Vitamins?
What you eat and drink supplies the nutrients your baby needs to build essential organs, bones, and tissues. As a result, your body has an increased need for certain essential nutrients to support both your health and the proper development of your baby.
It can be difficult to meet these increased needs through diet alone. As such, most doctors recommend prenatal supplements to support mums-to-be and their babies during pregnancy. Aside from making sure your body is receiving important essential nutrients – like folic acid, calcium, and iron – pregnancy presents other challenges (morning sickness and labour come to mind). Fortunately, there are safe and simple solutions to help keep you and your baby happy and healthy through the ups and downs of pregnancy.
For a Healthy Pregnancy…
Folic acid is the synthetic form of naturally occurring Vitamin B9, called folate. Folate (or folic acid) is particularly important for the healthy development of your baby’s neural system. It is key in preventing neural cord defects, like spina bifida, which occur during the first weeks of pregnancy as the brain and spinal cord are forming. It can be difficult to get sufficient amounts of folate from diet alone.
Though leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are strong sources of folate, most doctors advise taking folic acid supplements as well. The CDC recommends 400mg of folate or folic acid daily to help prevent against cerebral and spinal birth defects. Most prenatal vitamins include folic acid, but check the label to be sure.
During pregnancy, your body uses iron to make extra blood for both you and your baby. Healthy blood transports oxygen from your lungs through your body and your baby’s growing body. Too little iron can result in a condition called iron-deficient anemia, which occurs when your body doesn’t produce sufficient red blood cells.
Roughly a quarter of pregnant women in the UK are affected. It can make you feel tired, but it can also cause your baby to be premature. Most prenatal vitamins include adequate low doses of iron (usually around 30mg) to support your body’s increased need during pregnancy.
Calcium is a key mineral to help your baby develop strong bones and teeth. It also plays an important role in growing a healthy heart, establishing a healthy heart rhythm, growing muscles and nerves, and helping blood to clot properly. In addition to supporting the baby’s growth, calcium can also help reduce your risk of hypertension and preeclampsia.
Many women, however, don’t get adequate calcium through their diets alone. If you aren’t taking in enough calcium your baby will actually draw what needs from your bones, which could negatively affect your own health later on.
Vitamin D is essential in regulating phosphate and helping the body to absorb calcium. However, many of us in the UK are not getting enough of it, which also contributes to low calcium levels. During pregnancy, if you don’t have sufficient vitamin D in your system it could prevent your baby from getting sufficient phosphate or calcium.
There is also a suspected link between vitamin D deficiency in mothers and babies born with low birth weights.
Vitamin C is a key building block for your baby’s development. It is an essential element in collagen production, a key structural protein for building tendons, bones, cartilage, and skin. Not only does Vitamin C help the body to repair tissue and heal wounds properly, fight off diseases and infections but it also helps the body absorb iron.
There is also some research to suggest that Vitamin C deficiencies can lead to mental impairment in newborns. Fortunately, it’s easy to get your daily dose of vitamin C through diet or through your daily prenatal vitamin.
Vitamin B6 is also called pyridoxine. It is an essential nutrient for your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Pyridoxine helps your baby to metabolise carbohydrates and protein; and form neurotransmitters, red blood cells, and antibodies. There is also research to suggest that extra B6 could help stave off the unpleasant effects of morning sickness. Prenatal vitamins usually contain at least 100% of your daily dose of B6 to ensure your baby’s healthy development.
The Baobab tree is known as ‘The Tree of Life’, and for good reason. Considered one of the most effective natural pregnancy supplements, baobab is very high in fibre, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. It provides a strong nutritional profile with many important vitamins and minerals to support the growth of your baby. Additionally, it is believed to help with morning sickness due to its high levels of vitamin C.
Moringa leaf is like a pregnancy superfood! Its highly-bioavailable, nutrient-rich profile can help support your body through all stages of your pregnancy. In a single serving, moringa can supply you with your daily doses of calcium and iron. It has three times the vitamin A of carrots, 7 times the vitamin C of an orange, and double the amount of potassium as a banana. Moringa leaf has also been proven to increase breastmilk production.
For Morning Sickness…
Specially formulated teas, like the Organic Herbal Tea For Queasy Days from Myrtle & Maude, are designed to ease the unpleasantness of morning sickness. Borrowing from traditional wisdom, they use natural remedies like rose petal, and peppermint, and ginger to help calm unhappy stomachs. The NHS actually recommends ginger products as a treatment for morning sickness because of ginger’s natural ability to alleviate nausea and vomiting.
When the Big Day is around the corner…
For centuries, raspberry leaf has been given to women as they prepared for labour. Traditional wisdom cites that it helps to strengthen and tone the muscles of your womb and pelvic floor to work more effectively. Filled with vitamins and minerals, it is also said to help your body recover after giving birth. Teas like Myrtle & Maude’s Labour Day tea harness the power of the raspberry leaf to help soothe your body as it brings life into the world.
For Healthy Breastfeeding…
While many women think they’re done with prenatal vitamins after their child is born, it’s actually important to continue taking them while breastfeeding. These vital nutrients will pass from you to your child through breast milk, helping your little one grow up healthy and strong.
There are also specially formulated teas, containing powerful herbs that have been used in natural medicine for centuries, to help your body cope with the demands of breastfeeding. Ingredients such as alfalfa and fennel are known as ‘galactagogues’ meaning that they help to stimulate milk production.
Pregnancy can be a time of great excitement, but also one of uncertainty. There is so much to learn to keep both you and your baby healthy throughout the process. Why add to it with worries of nutrient deficiencies? Understanding what your body needs to help your baby develop properly is important for a healthy pregnancy. Natural herbal supplements and prenatal vitamins can help keep you and your baby happy and healthy all the way through.