Pregnancy and nursing are times of a woman’s life when it is important to be vigilant about getting enough nutrients to nourish her little one and supplements can be helpful. There are also some supplements that are important to avoid during pregnancy and nursing and any pregnant woman should work directly with her care provider to make sure she is taking the correct supplements for her body and pregnancy.

As someone who has quite a bit of experience being pregnant and nursing over the last decade, I’ve seen first hand how supplements can make a pregnancy (and delivery) easier!

Each woman’s dietary and nutrient needs will vary, but as a general rule, a nutrient-dense diet is the most important factor in her ability to get enough vitamins and minerals during pregnancy

When you're pregnant, focus on consuming the following:

  • Lots of high quality protein from high quality sources like grass-fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs, and wild, caught, sustainable seafood (smaller fish preferable). Organ meats from grass fed sources are also wonderful for pregnancy and nursing and can help reduce the chance of anemia.
  • Large amounts of vegetables, especially green ones! Green veggies have folate, which is important for fetal growth, and are also high in many other nutrients. They help prevent the constipation that can sometimes occur during pregnancy, and are great for making sure nursing moms are getting enough vitamins. 
  • Healthy Fats galore! Pregnancy and nursing are not times to skimp on healthy fats. Quality fats are absolutely vital for baby’s brain development, organ and tissue growth, and good milk production for mom. Sources like healthy meats, coconut oil and coconut products, olive oil, avocados, and nuts are especially good during pregnancy.
  • Other high nutrient foods like homemade bone broth, soups, fermented vegetables,  fruit (especially berries) and green smoothies are also great for pregnancy and nursing.
Supplements for Pregnancy

Even with the most solid diet, it can be difficult to consume enough of the necessary nutrients for pregnancy, especially with our modern food supply. For this reason, you should take certain specially selected supplements while you're pregnant or nursing:

Folate

The supplement folic acid is commonly recommended, but there is substantial difference between folic acid (the synthetic form) and folate (the natural form). The dosage is also slightly different, and some sources recommend as much as 1200 mcg of folate per day for maximum benefit. This amount should include the amount in multivitamins and any additional folate supplement (be sure to check multivitamins, as many contain the synthetic form!). Folate is one supplement that has been extensively studied for use in pregnancy and is extremely effective at preventing neural tube defects. It is also very inexpensive and easy for every pregnant woman to take.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics are critical, especially during pregnancy. During the birth process, babies culture their beneficial gut bacteria from what the receive from mom when passing through the birth canal and from nursing in the months afterward. Unfortunately, this process doesn’t happen in the same way with cesarean deliveries, but research is finding ways to help facilitate this process.

Quality probiotics help ensure that baby will get a good dose of beneficial bacteria during a normal vaginal delivery, which can reduce risk of ear infection and illness in the first few years. Good gut health also has a tremendous impact on lifelong health, and this is one of the most important things you can do for your baby’s health. Probiotics also help mom avoid illness and constipation during pregnancy, and might reduce the risk of Group B strep. Since baby’s gut bacteria continues to culture during the nursing time, it is good for mom to continue to take probiotics during this time as well.

Vitamin D3

There is a lot of emerging research that Vitamin D can help reduce the risk of many pregnancy related complications including gestational diabetes. It is important for baby’s bone and hormone development and helps support mom’s immune system during pregnancy. Some research suggests that nursing babies may be able to obtain Vitamin D from the mother’s milk if mom is getting more than 5,000IU/day..

Magnesium

Take magnesium all the time, its really helpful in pregnancy. Severe magnesium deficiency can lead to poor fetal growth, preeclampsia, or even fetal death. Proper magnesium levels also help mom’s tissue growth and recovery during pregnancy and may help baby receive more nutrition through the placenta. It is very difficult to get enough magnesium from food sources anymore, but supplement like Mamalait has it all.

Coconut Oil

During pregnancy and nursing, take several tablespoons of coconut oil and other healthy fats in smoothies or tea daily as a supplement in addition to cooking with it. It is naturally immune boosting, supportive of baby’s brain development, and contains many of the components of breast milk to support nursing as well.

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