Monday, March 21, 2011

Supplements During Pregnancy

I don't want to make it sound like my plans for health are based on a pill. Good food trumps supplements every time. Nevertheless, I spend less time cooking whole foods than I should (tell me I'm not the only one!). And the more I read* the more I realize that my diet, while perhaps better than the typical SAD** isn't what I'd like it to be. And so I take vitamins. Especially now, when I'm growing a baby.

Prenatal vitamin
I use Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamins. Recommended for pregnant and lactating mothers, it contains not only the 'usual' goodness most prenatals include, but also has ginger (perhaps the reason I've never had nausea after taking these?) and red raspberry leaf (widely used for toning the uterus) and they're conveniently available over-the-counter (I've found them at my health food store but also at Babies R Us).

Vitamin D
My vitamin D levels were low when tested last year. As in Goodness, you practically have rickets! low. I had one doctor tell me I should take 1,000 IUs each day for the next year and get retested. A second opinion scoffed at that number and demanded I take 10,000 IUs. Ten thousand international units of a fat-soluable vitamin is far higher than most doctors will recommend, so while I did take that initially, when I became pregnant I double-checked the dose with the doctor providing my prenatal care. Without the batting of an eye I was told that 10,000 was fine, but if I wanted to save money on vitamins I could cut the dose in half. So I did.

Cranberry & Garlic
I've struggled with UTIs for years. Miserable. It wasn't until my first pregnancy when my midwives suggested starting a regimen of cranberry and garlic supplementation that I saw a dramatic reduction in infections. In fact, the few UTIs I've had since I started taking cranberry and garlic had been when I've run out of the supplements for a few weeks. Lo and behold, I'd get a UTI! So I'm trying to be good and keep up with the supplements. 

Would unsweetened cranberry juice and raw cloves of garlic work? Yes. But to regularly drink that much quality juice is more expensive than I can manage, and while I love raw garlic and do eat it, sometimes you want a day without feeling like vampires (and your co-workers) are avoiding you. 

Cod Liver Oil
Good ol' Mary Poppins-reminicent cod liver oil, modernized. The new oils are flavored (the Nordic Naturals brand I'm currently taking tastes mildly of orange. We once had a brand that tasted exactly, deliciously, dangerously like lemon merengue. Mmmmm.) and are rigorously tested for contaminants.

Dried Plums
So, yes. Technically, this is an actual real food, not a supplement, but I take a few daily so I consider them part of my pregnancy supplementation plan. Dried plums (or as we all grew up calling them, prunes. Can't fool me, California Prune Dried Plum Board!) are yummy and keep the hemorrhoids at bay. (That's right, I said it. Didn't have a single problem last pregnancy [no plastic donut seat for me] nor do I intend to have any this time around.) And they are sincerely tasty.


And that's that. I'll probably add a regular mug of red raspberry leaf tea in my third trimester, but that is still weeks from now. I've also got plans to add more fermented foods to my diet, which would be a supplement in the same way the dried plums are supplements--food vs. pill--but would still be eaten for a specific purpose. I feel good and, with an extra focus on my diet, am convinced it'll help me give me and my baby the best opportunity to be healthy and well this pregnancy.

What are you taking (or have you taken) as pregnancy supplements? How do you feel about  supplementing during pregnancy (vs. relying on a diet of whole foods)? 

* Recommended reads:  Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and The Vegetarian Mother & Baby Book by Rose Elliot.

**Standard American Diet info from Dr. Sears


Vanessa March 21, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

Thomasin, you definitely aren't the only one not cooking whole foods as much! Just last night we were able to make our own "meat"balls (tofu-nut balls) rather than buy some morningstar farms substitute.

What you are taking sounds great!
I'm still taking all of the supplements that I was on while pregnant. The standard prescribed prenatal, iron pills (I was anemic), fish oil, calcium/vitamin D and good 'ol fluoxetine.

I want to try your prenatal next time to see if that helps the nausea.

Thomasin March 23, 2011 at 5:29 PM  

Mmm.. Love "meat" balls! Mind sharing the recipe?

I'm thankful I haven't had trouble with iron to date (those iron pills are tough on a woman! Though sometimes necessary, for sure).

I can't *swear* that the Rainbow Lights won't make someone nauseous, but hopefully they won't for you--I haven't had one issue with taking them ever. :-)

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