Must Have Supplements During Pregnancy

Taking care of your body is always important, but it's especially so when you are growing a little human (or two... or more). It can be challenging to know what your body needs during pregnancy and also, what is safe to take. Keep reading to learn about some of the different vitamins and minerals that are safe to supplement with during pregnancy.


As always, talk with your health care provider before starting any new medications or supplements during pregnancy to make sure that it is the right choice and the right dosage for you.




Prenatal Vitamins

I actually recommend talking to your doctor about starting a prenatal vitamin before you even get pregnant. You should continue to take your prenatal vitamin throughout pregnancy and during the postpartum period. Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that are formulated to meet the additional demands on your body during pregnancy. One main thing that differentiates prenatals from other multivitamins is that prenatals contain more folate (vitamin B9). Folate is essential for the successful formation of the developing neural tube.


You can read more about prenatal vitamins and how to choose the best one for you in this blog post.


DHA

DHA is an omega-3 that is found most abundantly in cold water fish. It is essential for the development of your babies eyes, brain, heart, and nervous system. Most prenatal vitamins have DHA in them, but if yours doesn't then this is something that can be taken separately.


Vitamin D

This is a fat soluble vitamin. It plays as essential role in immune function, bone development and strength, and cell growth. Vitamin D is often included in the labs run at the beginning of your pregnancy. Your provider will let you know if you are deficient and would benefit from supplementing with it.


Magnesium

Magnesium is found all throughout your muscular and nervous system and can be used to treat all kinds of symptoms during pregnancy. It’s a great natural laxative and can help relieve the constipation that is not an uncommon ailment during pregnancy. It can help alleviate the intensity of headaches which can be common during the second trimester. It can also reduce the prevalence of leg cramps and pregnancy related insomnia. Read more about the different forms of magnesium here.


Calcium

Calcium is another one of those vitamins that is so easily depleted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s important for your baby's developing musculoskeletal system and is found all throughout the body. Your body is naturally going to make sure that baby gets the amount needed and whatever is leftover will then go to you. If you are deficient in calcium, it will worsen in pregnancy. Taking a calcium supplement can help to reduce your risk of hypertension and preeclampsia along with future dental issues or osteoporosis.


Probiotics

You may have heard about Group B strep or GBS, as it’s more commonly referred. This is a strain of bacteria found in the vaginal canal of approximately 25% of women. You are tested for it during your third trimester and if you are positive for it then antibiotics are given during labor to protect your baby from getting sick if it passes to him or her during labor.


Research has shown that supplementing with probiotics during pregnancy can prevent or resolve GBS, which in turn means that antibiotics are no longer needed during labor and delivery. I’m all for the power of antibiotics when necessary, but if they can be safely avoided then your gut will thank you.


Vitamin C

Premature rupture of membranes, PROM, is when your water breaks before labor has started. This can present as a problem because once your water has broken you are at risk for developing infection so it’s important that the baby is delivered within a reasonable time frame.


Vitamin C has been found to strengthen the amniotic sac, decreasing the chances of PROM.


Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Red raspberry leaf tea has so many great benefits for the female body whether you are pregnant or not. It helps to strengthen and tone the uterus, which is the muscle that will be doing all of the hard work during labor and delivery. It’s also very rich in B vitamins and necessary minerals like magnesium and calcium. Getting your vitamins in tea form can be easier for your body to utilize versus an encapsulated form that it has to work harder to break down.


“Women who ingest raspberry leaf might be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes, or require a caesarean section, forceps, or vacuum birth than the women in the control group.”


Studies have found that women who ingest RRL tea during pregnancy not only have shortened labors, but need less medical intervention during their labor. If there’s a chance it’ll make my labor and delivery easier, then sign me up!


Always ask your doctor about any supplement you are considering taking in pregnancy to make sure that it is a safe and appropriate choice for you.


Resources:

National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/index.html


Carlson SE, Colombo J, Gajewski BJ, Gustafson KM, Mundy D, Yeast J, Georgieff MK, Markley LA, Kerling EH, Shaddy DJ. DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013


Fanni D, Gerosa C, Nurchi VM, et al. The Role of Magnesium in Pregnancy and in Fetal Programming of Adult Diseases. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2021


Abedi P, Bovayri M, Fakhri A, Jahanfar S. The Relationship Between Vitamin D and Postpartum Depression in Reproductive-Aged Iranian Women. J Med Life. 2018


Bilbey DL, Prabhakaran VM. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Can Fam Physician. 1996 Jul


Olsen P, Williamson M, Traynor V, Georgiou C. The impact of oral probiotics on vaginal Group B Streptococcal colonisation rates in pregnant women: A pilot randomised control study. Women Birth. 2018


Casanueva E, Ripoll C, Tolentino M, Morales RM, Pfeffer F, Vilchis P, Vadillo-Ortega F. Vitamin C supplementation to prevent premature rupture of the chorioamniotic membranes: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005


Simpson M, Parsons M, Greenwood J, Wade K. Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2001