Among the many changes you’ll go through, indigestion, bloating and constipation is probably going to be the first unpleasant ‘gift’ you’ll receive. Usually, due to a hormonal surge of progesterone, your bowels may become sluggish. Combat this with increased cravings for sugary, sweet, processed or convenient foods, and you’ve got a recipe for some uncomfortable tummy times. Probiotics are ‘friendly’ live cultured bacteria that help to populate your gut flora and assist in fighting bacterial invasions and virus attacks. They help create a balanced gut biome that will break down and absorb your nutrients from food more efficiently, which aid in the prevention of many digestive disorders including IBS, leaky gut syndrome, and Candida. Studies have shown that women taking probiotics during pregnancy are linked to children with fewer allergies and a more robust immune system.
Among the plethora of different probiotics on the market, I’ve found that these two reputable brands offer good quality products.
Genestra’s HMF Intensive is my number 1 recommended probiotic for individuals, pregnant or not. I love that there are decades of science backing these, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Nigel Plummer Ph. D, arguably an incredible Global Authority on Probiotics. It’s vegan and highly adaptable to the natural human gut flora and contains 25 Billion CFUs (colony forming units).
Renew Life Critical Care 50 Billion is my number 2 recommended probiotic for those who want a more economical option. While it does contain 25 extra billion CFU’s than the HMF, it is made up of different strains. Although it’s not a vegan source, I do like that there are multiple strains from different vegetables that offer secondary bacterial support in conjunction with the primary probiotics from animal sources.
Calcium helps build strong bones; this is nothing new. But Calcium and Magnesium are also essential in the proper functioning of nerve and muscles cells. That may be something new to you. So we are building a baby with a fragile skeletal system and want to make sure that we’re getting enough calcium for strong bones, but also ensuring baby is getting enough nerve, and muscular support will help those bones get even stronger. When baby punches, kicks, and flinches, the muscles are pulling on the bones and causing an internal strengthening reaction. Strong muscles and fast reaction times will help baby develop their senses and form new connections in the brain.
Mom can benefit from taking a good Calcium Magnesium supplement as it will help support her nerves and muscles, and especially for those restless legs and foot cramps. I like the SISU liquid Calcium Magnesium or the blended complex in the Melaleuca Calcium Complete Tablets that I’ve taken for years.
High-quality fats are so important to consume during pregnancy. Not only is your baby building their brain and nervous system, but they’re also trying to put on weight to help with protection outside of the womb. Omega 3s two main players that you want to look for on labels are DHA and EPA. DHA supports the structure of cells, especially the cell membrane where EPA helps the function of cells and reduces inflammation. DHA is one of the key compounds in omega 3s that help build a strong nervous system for baby. Choose Omega 3s with higher concentrations of DHA compared to EPA during pre- and postnatal. Omega 3s are definitly one of those supplements you want to make sure is the highest quality. I like the balance of EPA/DHA of Renew Life’s Super Critical Omega 3 and it’s 5-Star rated IFOS Score. Buying low quality, cheap versions won’t guarantee you purity, accurate EPA/DHA concentrations, and protection from rancidity. For more information, check out 5 Tips for Buying the Right Omega 3 Fish Oils.
If you’re reading this in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta Canada you’ve probably heard about vitamin D deficiency. Researchers from the University of Calgary determined that 100% of Canadians are deficient in vitamin D at least some part of the year and a 2010 Stats Canada report suggested that more than a million Canadians suffer from serious healthy issues due to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is also one of the few supplements recommended by the Canadian Pediatrics Association. Vitamin D acts similar to a hormone in the body as well as a vitamin. It helps to boost the immune system, build strong bones, aid in nutrient absorption and restore beneficial gut flora. Seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are those feel-good neurotransmitters made in the gut and transported to the brain and vitamin D supports the manufacturing of these mood-boosting chemicals. Low levels of vitamin D is associated with seasonal affective disorder, anxiety, and depression. The good thing is when you’re taking is, your baby is getting it! The liquids and emulsions are by far more superior than the tablets, but here are a few that I recommend. The Genestra Vitamin D Mulsion 1000 comes in a ‘lemon pie’ or mint flavor for those who detest normal oil-based ones and for those who don’t want liquids at all, there are good tablet forms as well.
Multis are generally among my ‘meh’ list for supplements for the everyday person, but during pregnancy, they’re a must. There are very few good quality multis on the market in my opinion and that’s largely due to mass production and quality of ingredients. It’s hard to squeeze so many nutrients into a single pill that is tolerable to swallow. Manufacturers of supplements have to choose which are the most important ingredients to use in each multi and then determine how much of them can feasibly be packed in. Prenatal vitamins are usually pretty good at concentrating on the most important nutrients to use. I cannot stress enough, quality over quantity! I have a video on 5 Tips for Buying the Right Vitamins that will help guide you. There are a couple multis I do like and have taken throughout my pregnancy. Melaleuca Prenatal Multi + Min is my number 1 favorite but can be hard to find unless you have an account with them, whole foods Mega Foods Baby and Me and SISU Supreme Multi Expecting come in at second best. If you’re not used to taking multis with iron, they can be constipating at first while your body adjusts. Some women opt to get multis without iron and take the liquid form instead, as it’s more tolerable on the bowels. SISU makes a multi without iron, and a great liquid form is the Salus Floradix Liquid Iron + Vitamins.
Vitamin C helps both mom and baby in a multitude of ways. It’s immune building for baby and helps mom fight off bacterial and viral attacks. Vitamin C is needed for thousands of processes in the body and contributes to bone growth, hair, skin and nail health, teeth and gum support and tissue repair to name a few. If you’re eating a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, than Vitamin C shouldn’t be something you are required to supplement, but I like to recommend it as a cognitive booster and stress management aid. Some vitamin Cs can be hard on the tummy, so I like the SISU Ester C Supreme (citrus-free)or Ester C-1000’s. They’re chelated with calcium so it’s gentle on your stomach and the extra calcium helps if your multi’s aren’t supplying the reccomended daily dose.
Supplements are just that… supplemental to your diet. Focus on getting most of your nutrients from whole, fresh food sources instead of relying on a pill to make up for the late night 7-11 Chimichurris. If your diet is already stellar, you should notice a nice pep in your step when you add in good quality vitamins/minerals.
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JANNA HATTINGH B.KIN, CHN (www.holisticyyc.com)
Functional Health and Nutrition Advocate, modern-day hippie, wife and new mom.
Holistic living isn’t all about hemp skirts, eating organic mung beans and smelling like patchouli. I’m here to help real people cut through the bullshit and just live a kick-ass healthy life, naturally.