While you should always follow the advice of your LMC about what is safe to take during pregnancy, here is a brief list of supplements that may have body benefits for you and your baby, says Tiffany Brown.
Probiotics are the buzz for health-seekers these days. Designed to balance out gut flora, probiotics are a great idea to maintain your gut health, especially if your prepregnancy lifestyle let the “bad bacteria” get out of control, through environmental stresses, excessive caffeine, alcohol or sugar consumption, or too many processed foods in your diet.
A good probiotic can reduce the symptoms of morning sickness, boost your immune system, reduce the likelihood of pregnancy constipation, support healthy blood sugar levels, and populate the vaginal canal with the healthy flora your baby needs to start their own gut health journey off on the right foot. Many practitioners recommend continuing to take probiotics once your baby is born. And here’s another
bonus benefit to keep in mind. Research in the British Journal of Nutrition found women who took Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics during the first trimester until they stopped breastfeeding lost post-partum weight more quickly than other women.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, the two essential members of the Omega 3 family for pregnant and lactating women are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA supports the heart, immune system and inflammatory response, while DHA supports the brain, eyes and central nervous system. Both are therefore essential to the neurological and early vision development of your baby. Omega 3s are also essential for making breastmilk, and studies have indicated a diet high in Omega 3s may reduce the risk of allergies in infants. Pre-term, sufficient Omega 3 may reduce the likelihood of preeclampsia and increase birth weight, while a deficiency may contribute to the risk
of postnatal depression.
Important for your baby's growth and brain development, iodine can be lacking in the diets of some women. Seafood, milk, eggs, iodised salt, fortified bread, and some cereals will provide iodine, but if your birth support professional prescribes supplemental iodine, you can take a daily tablet as well.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of vitamin B9, also known as folate. A lack of folic acid may contribute to neural tube defects (NTDs) and serious birth defects of the spinal cord such as spina bifida. Folic acid is essential for the formation and reproduction of cells. It is found naturally in leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, wholemeal bread, yeast, liver, and legumes. Folic acid as a supplement is considered to be more
bio-available than food sources of folate.
It’s hard work to grow a new little human! Your body’s blood volume increases between 30% and 50% during pregnancy, and this can compromise the health of your blood. Commonly caused by iron deficiency, anaemia can occur when red blood cells are unable to carry oxygen through the body efficiently. Mild anaemia is very common, but severe anaemia could put you and your baby at risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Food sources of iron include liver, red meat, poultry, pork, dried fruit, and blackstrap molasses. Dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and peas are also sources
of iron, although this plant-based iron is not as readily absorbed by the body as iron from meat. It’s wise to take a vitamin C supplement or eat vitamin C-rich foods like citrus, strawberries, kiwifruit, tomatoes,
and capsicums at the same time as iron-rich foods to assist absorption. Pregnant women need at least 27mg of iron per day, so you may need iron supplementation in the form of oral iron tablets or intravenous injection.