I’ve had five babies. In my first pregnancy, I knew nothing about natural health, and took the standard kids’ chewable vitamins (doubling the dose — it’s commonly recommended for pregnant women who don’t want to swallow pills).
In my second pregnancy, I bought a liquid prenatal from the health food store. I really didn’t know anything about it, besides that it was from the health food store.
After that I didn’t take any prenatal vitamins, I stuck to herbal tea blends. The biggest reason was because I felt that most supplements were poorly absorbed and had too many unhealthy additives.
More and more I keep coming back to that, and revising it. And it’s important to know why.
Should You Take Prenatal Vitamins?
There’s a debate, especially in the ‘natural’ world, over whether you should even take prenatal vitamins.
The ‘no’ side basically says that we should be able to get all our nutrients from foods. If we’re not getting enough, then we’re not eating right, and require more total food and more nutrient-dense food. They’re also against the synthetic nutrients used in most supplements, and the other unhealthy binders and additives.
The ‘yes’ side points out that our modern soils are depleted, and food isn’t as nutritious as it once was — plus, in pregnancy, you need even more than usual, and you may be struggling with morning sickness that makes it difficult to get enough.
Some say that morning sickness doesn’t matter, because your baby is tiny in the early weeks of pregnancy and really doesn’t need a whole lot. Energy-wise, that’s true — you don’t need many extra calories. But, your baby’s entire body and major organ systems are forming at this point in time. All of the key parts are being created and beginning to function. You need many extra nutrients (vitamins and minerals) in order to fuel this development. We know this for a fact, because women who are deficient in folate in the very early weeks, for example, are at higher risk of having a baby with a neural tube disorder. Yes, those early nutrients really matter.
Since life isn’t perfect, our food supply isn’t perfect, and most moms don’t eat as well as they could or should — whether that’s due to morning sickness, being busy, or whatever — a prenatal boost is a good idea.
Choosing Excellent Quality Supplements
The problem, of course, is that most of supplement choices out there are not so great.
It’s taken a very long time to go through various supplement companies to find high-quality choices, but I have finally found some. (Please note: there are affiliate links included in this post, but neither company I mention has any idea I am writing about them. I researched them both, among many others, and bought some of their products for myself. I am impressed with them, and that is why I am sharing.)
It’s true that most supplement companies out there are not quality. Not the quality that I would be okay with — not truly pure and additive-free.
But, after five pregnancies and struggling to get what I needed each time (no matter how much I did fresh-pressed juice, salads, butter, soups, and all the other suggestions), I know that a little ‘extra’ is the best plan.
I’m very, very picky about what I choose, so through pregnancies 3, 4, and 5 I only used cod liver oil, probiotics, and pregnancy tea. Recently I finally found two supplement companies that meet my standards.
I actually found the first one because I was searching for quality vitamin C. Only one company popped up that met my standards, and that was The Synergy Company.
They make several different supplements, all completely food-based. They offer men’s and women’s vitamins, vitamin C (which I now own), vegetable powders, berry powders, and lots more. And, a prenatal.
The prenatal, called Purenatal, includes:
- Sprout blend
- Berry blend
- Red raspberry leaf
- Whole foods nutrients
It includes folate, not folic acid (and yes, it makes a big difference — we’ll be sharing more information on folate vs. folic acid and what it all has to do with the MTHFR gene mutation in a few weeks). Each serving contains between 100% and 700% of the RDA for each nutrient, and is totally organic. The cost is approximately $35 for a month’s supply. It does require taking 4 pills per day. It also contains organic, fermented soy. (Which is the only ‘acceptable’ form, but may be not ideal for those sensitive to soy.)
The second company I found when I was searching for a probiotic for my 5-month-old. I finally found one that was affordable, and that was high potency (most kids’ probiotics are 1 – 2 billion CFU; this one is 10 billion), multi-strain, and allergy-free. It’s worked well for him. Soon after, I was searching for vitamin D drops, and found this company yet again. The drops contain only D3 and olive oil.
That company is called Seeking Health, and it is created and all formulas are designed by Dt. Lynch, ND (who is the doctor doing major research into MTHFR). All of their other supplements are equally clean. Their prenatal is called Optimal Prenatal and is designed for women with MTHFR, although it would be excellent for any mother.
- Red raspberry leaf
- Milk thistle
- Specific forms of vitamins/minerals that are easy to absorb
It’s not specifically organic. It does not contain any of the top 8 allergens at all, including no soy. It also has a wider range of nutrients and they’re in specific forms (natural, whole, and some chelated) to ease absorption. It requires taking 8 pills per day, spread throughout the day, and is about $60 for a month’s supply.
A Whole Foods Supplement Plan
To be honest, I likely would not take either of these. Not because they are not good — they are — but because pregnant women need more of specific nutrients. Some would do best to take one of these options and what I will describe below.
In my opinion — and this is just based on my research and personal experience, I’m not a medical professional — this is ideal:
- 2000 – 4000 IU vitamin D drops (I choose this one)
- 50 – 100 billion CFU probiotics (I choose this one)
- 1/4 tsp. vitamin C powder (I choose this one)
- 2 tbsp. gelatin (I choose this one)
- B-complex capsule (I choose this one)
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. magnesium lotion (I use this one)
- 1 quart pregnancy tea
Pregnancy tea provides all of the important trace minerals, and a big dose of red raspberry leaf (which I credit for my much-more-manageable after pains and small amount of bleeding after my last baby).
Magnesium lotion is necessary for promoting healthy sleep, building parts of baby’s body, reducing anxiety and depression, and using vitamin D in your body. (It’s also beneficial for headaches and constipation.)
B-complex provides important B-6 (helps morning sickness), B-9 (folate; helps prevent neural tube disorders and cleft palate/lip), and B-12, plus other B vitamins.
Gelatin helps strengthen muscles naturally, and helps combat pregnancy-induced anxiety or depression by providing necessary amino acids that your body uses to make GABA, which competes with stress hormones in the brain to help you calm down. It’s also good for leaky guts.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that strengthens your amniotic sac so that it isn’t likely to break prematurely, and is important for your baby’s development.
Probiotics populate your gut with healthy bacteria, which you can pass to your baby at birth, giving him or her a healthy start. (Plus, helps you stay healthy.)
Vitamin D helps to raise key hormone levels (it’s a pre-hormone, technically, not a vitamin), prevent illness, and more. It can also help get rid of anxiety and depression.
This whole plan costs about $67/month, or about the same as some of the prenatals — but it has higher amounts of key nutrients and includes probiotics. (Most companies recommend a separate probiotic.) Also, I based the probiotic cost on taking 100 billion CFU per month. If you take half that, the cost will be half as well, dropping the total for this plan to about $50/month.
This is legitimately what I take everyday. I think it is good for women who are hoping to be pregnant, who are pregnant, or who are breastfeeding. (In addition to a healthy diet, of course).