We all know we should be taking a prenatal supplement once that second line appears, and there’s plenty of evidence out there to support supplementing once you start trying to conceive. But with so many products available, where do you start?
One thing all healthcare providers agree on is that you need folic acid and vitamin D supplements as it isn’t possible to take in enough of these through diet alone during pregnancy. They will also remind you not to take cod liver oil because of its high vitamin A levels. After that, it’s up to you to peruse the shelves at your local chemist or dive headfirst into the internet.
There are well-known products such as the Vitabiotics’ Pregnacare range, which include all the recommended vitamins for mother and baby. They have the benefit of being widely used and are endorsed by parents, baby and parenting magazines, and various forums. Samples are often included in your welcome pack when you register with a midwife in the UK, which in itself offers peace of mind.
But perhaps you want to try something new or have specific needs from your pregnancy supplements, for example you have dietary preferences or intolerances. If so, there is an array of vegan-appropriate vitamins on the market, including Source of Life Garden’s Prenatal Vitamin, which contains ginger to help with nausea.
NHP Antenatal Support offers a supplement formulated by Dr Marilyn Glenville, which she says offers a blend of ‘only the highest quality and most essential nutrients scientifically known to be important’ during pregnancy. She has a wide following of men and women who are trying to conceive as well as mothers in early pregnancy.
There are also some relatively new products on the market, such as BetterYou’s DLUX Daily Vitamin D Oral Spray, which comes in a fruity flavour and contains 400ug of Folic Acid, 1.4mg of B1, 2mg of B6 and 25mcg of D3 per spray. While this is not a prenatal multivitamin, it does provide the basic recommended dose of folic acid in a tummy-friendly way, which may be useful for those suffering from severe pregnancy nausea or sickness. You should always speak to your midwife or doctor if your nausea is stopping you from taking your prenatal vitamins or if you are becoming dehydrated.
ProVen Probiotics believes that healthy bacteria are just as important to newborn babies as they are to adults and suggests that ensuring your own digestive system is healthy during pregnancy can influence how well your newborn’s digestive flora will develop after birth.
The Swansea Baby Trial used ProVen to test whether children were more or less likely to suffer from allergic conditions after birth. The study showed that babies whose mothers took the supplement and who were subsequently given the probiotic themselves were 44% less likely to develop allergic reactions to common allergens including pollen, cow’s milk, egg and house dust mites.
Once the pregnancy hormones kick in, you may find that the thick, glossy hair you were expecting doesn’t arrive and instead you begin to lose some of your hair. Equally, when the post-partum hormones surface, the wonderful pregnancy hair may start to shed. Hairburst for New Mums is a food supplement that can be taken during or after pregnancy to help keep your hair healthy, long and strong. It has a huge social media following and is often endorsed by celebrity mothers. It even claims to help boost energy levels in tired new mums, and that can’t be a bad thing!
Once your baby arrives you won’t want to stop taking care of your body, and one thing you may be considering is breastfeeding. Freida Pantry Breastfeeding Bars are a nutritious way to boost your milk supply in the early days of breastfeeding while you are establishing a feeding pattern with your baby and for any low-supply moments that follow. Midwives, lactation consultants and mums are raving about how delicious they are and how well they help to boost energy and milk supply.
There are so many products out there for prospective and new mothers to help us look after ourselves and our little ones. It may seem overwhelming to begin with, but once you find the right products you will be on your way to a healthy, happy pregnancy and ‘fourth trimester’.
The benefits of pregnancy supplements
A recent study found significant levels of vitamin and mineral deficiency among mothers in East London during early pregnancy.
At the start of the study, 72% had low levels of vitamin D, 13% were anaemic and 12% were thiamine-deficient. Women taking the multiple micronutrient supplements during the trial benefited from improved iron, folate, thiamine and vitamin D levels during the third trimester and a reduction in numbers of small-for-gestational-age infants.
Lead researcher Dr Louise Brough said: ‘This research highlights the concerning fact that a number of women even in the developed world are lacking in important nutrients during pregnancy. It also demonstrates the benefit of taking a multiple micronutrient supplement such as Pregnacare from early pregnancy.’
Keep the vitamins coming
Even as your children grow older they may need to take supplements to support growth and development. Bioglan’s SmartKids range is designed to keep children healthy as they whizz from activity to activity.
Available in a citrus flavour, its Brain Formula contains Omega-3 fish oil and several B-vitamins to support healthy brain function.
SmartKids Fussy Eaters Multivitamin can boost even the fussiest child’s daily nutritional requirements, combining a spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals in blackcurrant and strawberry flavours.
Its Happy Tummies range will boost your child’s live culture intake and provide tummies with good bacteria.
Finally, the Superfood Shake is packed full of nutritious hidden fruit and veggies, and comes in chocolate flavour.
Claire-Marie Lewis is a stay-at-home mother of two. She is navigating her way through parenthood one day at a time, from prenatal vitamins to sleep training and everything in between