*I want to start by highlighting that each family is entitled to their own way of doing things. This could be based on budget, (family) tradition, or (family) preference. While this post is definitely curated for moms, and to-be moms, who are exploring a more wholistic prenatal approach, I humbly advise that if you have the choice, you will be doing your body a great service by being proactive about your health and wellness. I have no medical background, and only sharing what worked/works for me as approved by my OB.
I know this post is long overdue, based on the request for it. Today, I’m sharing my prenatal necessaries with you all. As you may know, my lifestyle took a 360 turn on various viewpoints, after my decision to go vegan in 2014. That has ultimately changed my life over the last 5 years, and I have never looked back.
We always do better when we know better. For me, doing better ties into my Christian discipline. ‘Right is right, if God is God’, and I strive to do right as much as it depends on me.
I try my best to research/learn something new every week. Five years down the line, with a family of my own, I’m thankful for the decisions I have made. My Husband has never been compelled by me to try what he isn’t interested in. He has noticed how much better he feels and performs when he makes better food and lifestyle choices; and that’s why he’s all in. Again, we do better when we know better.
So based off of this, I’m sharing what worked for me. These were approved by my OB (just fyi)
Prenatal Vitamins: You know that I’m a full time advocate for all things real-food/real ingredients! So, yes, I had to go there with prenatals! I guess I need not explain why I wouldn’t spend on mainstream chemical-based prenatals.I started taking prenatal vitamins way before I got married. Why? If you get a whole food based prenatal vitamin, you’re basically taking a multivitamin, but with more vitamins and minerals that your ‘regular multivitamin’. Why is that necessary, you ask. When you’re in your child-bearing years, you need a good stock of the necessary vitamins and minerals in your body. You’re basically prepping your body for the extra life it’s going to house soon. I took this particular prenatal, because in addition to eat being raw food based, it comes with probiotics. And that’s a win-win for me.
We can get these from our everyday meals -if your diet is predominantly plant-based; but truth is, a lot of these nutrients are lost in cooking and processing. And if you’re taking raw, food based supplements, you’re not hurting anything by replenishing what may be lost in the processing of food. Prenatals also contain larger quantities of nutrients that are necessary during pregnancy, like iron and folate. Folate, for example, is the most important vitamin to take when planning a pregnancy. Folate is needed for growing and developing a fetus. Taking folate every day for at least 1 month before and during pregnancy can help lower the risk of problems with the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs). SO, you want to be able to have a good store of that in order to encourage healthy fetal development and minimize the risk of unwanted conditions like spina bifida.
Folate vs Folic Acid: Lots of people find out they are pregnant weeks/months after; so again, you are in good hands when you’re cultivating the culture of giving your body a good store of these vitamins. In addition to my prenatals, I did take folate in my first trimester. You notice I say folate and not folic acid….. because “Folic Acid must first be converted to its active form by a series of biochemical steps, before it is able to be used by the body. Metafolin (L-methylfolate) requires no conversion because it is bioidentical to the bio-active form. In other words, it is body-ready.”
Iron: After having the flu passed on to me by my Husband, I got sick for a bit, and lost appetite (a great deal!). I found that I was low on iron (which is quite normal during pregnancy) and so had to supplement on iron. My OB recommended these iron tablets that were ….. lots of chemicals and color(Zincofer)!!! And nope, feroglobin is no good either. I read the ingredients, and quickly got rid of it. Yes, I didn’t want to be anemic; but I wasn’t going to pump my body with necessary stuff that it would have to account for later in life. My mom actually did part of my research for me and discovered this liquid, plant-based iron supplement . I took the in addition to beef liver capsules. And listen, I went from a 9.0 to a whopping 11.8 in four weeks. Yup! If you can stand liver as is, good for you! I couldn’t, hence the capsules. I later dehydrated my own beef liver, ground it, and put them in vegetable cellulose capsules. That’s a lot more budget-friendly. (If you’re in Ghana, you can purchase Floradix at Relish)
Calcium: Somewhere after 16 weeks, I was advised to take calcium also by my OB. Calcium is needed to support development of strong bones, healthy teeth, heart, blood vessels, etc. Again, sources of calcium in our foods include dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, fish with soft bones (like sardines, and salmon), white beans, and some whole grains. Calcium can also reduce your risk of hypertension and preeclampsia. If you don’t get enough in your diet while pregnant, what happens is your baby will draw your little store from your bones, which may impair your own health later on. Now, calcium is better absorbed with vitamin D. So my food-based calcium supplements have Vitamin D3 , K2 and Magnesium.
Magnesium: Which brings me to Magnesium! Magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body. It’s involved in more than 600 reactions in your body. Magnesium has been proven to reduce insulin resistance, help prevent migraines, has anti-inflammatory benefits,…. long story short, it plays a really vital role in maintaining good health. My calcium supplements come with Magnesium, but I also love to apply to topically. It is said that your body absorbs more magnesium when applied topically. I buy these flakes, which I use in my magnesium bath soak. Honestly, since becoming a mama, my focus has been the baby since I can’t imagine soaking myself in a bath right now, for obvious reasons. So for me, I make a body butter with it, and that’s another awesome way to use it.
Healthy fats: I can’t stress this enough. The word fat has been vilified for a while now since fad diets have become all the rage. But, there’s nothing wrong with healthy fats. They play a really vital role in your health, and especially when you’re expecting! Healthy fats like avocados, nuts (walnuts, almonds) and nut butters, coconut (milk and butter), some fish like salmon, ghee (which is clarified butter from pasture-raised cows) -to mention but a few- help to fuel proper brain growth and eye development, especially during the final lap – third trimester! AND, even post partum, healthy fats increase the quality of your breast milk. So don’t be afraid of fat. Now, I’m not here promoting keto diets.AT ALL! Fat has its place in your diet; that doesn’t mean eat only fats everyday!Moderation is key!
Water, and a good source of electrolytes are really important. I can’t even stress on that enough!Did you know that when you are pregnant, you lose more electrolytes than any other time in your life? Why? because you are ALWAYS peeing! You need electrolytes to properly hydrate and carry fluids around your body properly.
Here are a few signs you need electrolytes:
- Feeling thirsty all the time. If you are still thirsty after drinking lots of fluid, you may need more electrolytes.
- Getting constipated.
- Headaches. Many headaches people experience are actually from being dehydrated. Electrolytes will ensure adequate hydration.
- Morning sickness. While an imbalance of electrolytes may not be the cause of morning sickness (or should we say all day sickness), they are definitely needed if you have been vomiting and are nauseous. (See more at: https://www.bellybelly.com.au/pregnancy/electrolytes-during-pregnancy)
Last but not the least, Sleep: I think motherhood has taught me in a special way that I had enough years of selfish time. I was so on-the-clock about having 8 hours of sleep each night. Of course, life always happens and you can’t always be on schedule. However, a good night’s sleep was a priority for me and my Husband. Get all the sleep, because this new season is going to keep you up a lot- and for good reason! I couldn’t wait for my babe to sleep through the night. Now that it’s happened, I can’t help but still wake up to feed her or just check on her. And I’m fine with that. Because once upon a time, I got my good good sleep! haha.
I hope this is helpful for all you wonderful mamas-to-be. It’s one wonderful ride you’re in for, and you owe it to your beautiful family to take care of you the right way!