We all know the importance of a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, in addition to having to take folic acid ideally a few months before getting pregnant. What about multivitamins to take during pregnancy? It’s easy to remain undecided with so many choices offered on pharmacy shelves, in addition to wondering what to do with our arsenal of multivitamins at home. We asked these questions to Vanessa Grutman, Kinesiologist, Entrepreneur and Certified Integrated Health coach who is committed to women’s health. Moms-to-be, take note!
Please note that this article does not replace the advice of your doctor. Consult your doctor before considering new treatments.
There is a lot of talk regarding prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. What is important to look for when choosing a product and why are these important for baby’s development?
At the outset, it is important to reiterate that during pregnancy, the needs of the mother and the future baby grow every day. Therefore it is important to use at least one prenatal multivitamin to fill vitamin and mineral deficiencies and to ensure healthy development of the fetus and good continuation for the mother.
Know that during its development, the body will always give priority to the baby, and this is to the detriment of the mother. Thus, if it holds a micronutrient deficiency, the body will dip into its tissues and reserves to ensure that the fetus has everything it needs. The pre-existing deficiencies of the mother will only be deepened. The multivitamin gives us “assurance” that all our daily micronutrient needs are met.
In general, I recommend investing in a professional-grade vitamin brand. This grade of product ensures that you not only to receive a therapeutic dose, but also to receive the most bioavailable form of each ingredient.
In addition, it is necessary to make sure to have a methylated multivitamin. How do you know? Look for the form of folic acid used: ideally we want to read “methyl-folate or L-5-methylfolic”. It is important to have a daily concentration of at least 400mcg.
This multivitamin is perfectly suitable. If you don’t like to swallow a lot of capsules, you can mix this powder into your morning smoothie. It will also provide you with your morning source of vegan protein and electrolytes. You will still have to supplement with folic acid.
If possible, you can also add a daily dose of Omega-3 for the proper development of the baby’s brain (preferably from small fish to avoid mercury contamination) and probiotics to ensure a balanced microbiome (especially if the mother has repeated yeast infections).
These supplements can continue for at least 3 months after delivery.
Are there vitamins and supplements to avoid when pregnant?
In general, one wants to opt for simplicity by avoiding supplements and medications that are not necessary.
In addition, it is better not to take therapeutic herbs. Although they are natural, they hold great medicinal power.
Also, I recommend avoiding a detoxification process until the end of breastfeeding. Ideally, the body is detoxified before getting pregnant (moreover, repeated miscarriages can indicate that the body has too many toxins and heavy metals that it would be wise to address to the pre-before).
The immune system of pregnant women is often weaker than normal. Are there vitamins or supplements that can be taken to give yourself a boost and protect yourself from viruses?
The immune system is certainly in constant labour during pregnancy; first during the implantation of the fetus (first 12 weeks) and then during the growth and development of the baby.
As mentioned, we want to avoid herbs even if they seem innocuous (for example, echinacea or oregano oil). It is better to turn to the vitamins and minerals that the body always needs.
If necessary, or when you feel the onset of a cold, you can add a daily dose of vitamin C, zinc (to be taken at bedtime) and vitamin D3 (depending on your weight: 35IU/lbs) – all while maintaining our usual dose of multivitamins.
Increase your intake of filtered water, continue to eat a lot of green vegetables (natural source of antioxidants) and ensure a good night’s sleep (at least 8-hours) by going to bed earlier (around 9-10pm).
Pregnant women are recommended to drink plenty of water, maximize their hours of sleep and eat well. Are there any other basic tips you think are good to adopt?
It is important to drink much more water because the blood volume increases during pregnancy (10 to 12 large glasses of water per day). It is necessary to continue this habit after childbirth to ensure a smooth breastfeeding journey. Ideally, tap water is not taken because it contains a significant number of toxins, heavy metals and pharmaceutical residues. Better stick to filtered and mineralized water.
In terms of diet, it is especially essential not to follow a ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet. Although caloric needs can vary, a pregnant woman usually needs an additional 500 calories per day.
During pregnancy, it is important not to skip meals and to eat a balanced diet by including protein (for the formation of fetal tissue), good fats (for the development of its nervous system) and carbohydrates (main source of energy for mom and baby).
Organic fruits and vegetables are used whenever possible to reduce pesticide exposure. Half of the plate should consist of various vegetables. Dark green vegetables are a natural source of iron and are important especially in the third trimester when iron stores begin to run out. Berries are also a priority because they are full of phytonutrients and natural antioxidants (you can easily eat 1/2 to 1 cup a day!).
If you have trouble eating so many vegetables or if you travel or must eat on the go, you can opt for a daily dose of this green juice that includes 22 organic fruits and vegetables.
We also want to move to promote healthy circulation of the lymphatic system and avoid swelling. Daily walking is ideal: you can set a goal of 10,000 steps each day and reduce the pace in the last 2 months of pregnancy. It is good to finish the walk with stretching, especially for the hips, to prepare the body gently for the work that is coming.
Finally, stress must be reduced as much as possible. Turn to a daily meditation practice (10 to 15 minutes morning and evening if possible), take regular breaks at work to move or simply breathe and learn to say no and listen to our body.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time and favourable to introspection. While sometimes difficult to manage, it’s important to honour your body’s changes and foster an abundance of positive thoughts during this short magical time in your life. Maybe it’s a good time to start keeping a daily gratitude journal?
About Vanessa Grutman, BSc. IHP
Vanessa is a Kinesiologist by training, an entrepreneur, and a certified integrated health coach. Through her own natural healing journey over the past 15 years, she has developed expertise in detoxification, skin health and holistic wellness. Her approach is in harmony with nature and follows the principles of the renowned Dr. Stephen Cabral who marries naturopathy, functional medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. She lives in nature in an idyllic corner in Quebec with her 2 children and her husband and practices what she recommends. Through her personalized or group virtual coaching services, she works with people from all over the world. You can find our more online vanessagrutman.com.