Folic Acid, you hear lots about it but what is it? Basically it’s the man made – synthetic – version of folate which is in green and leafy veggies. Most people absorb folate well and it is essential for splitting those cells and growing a baby. Your body needs it supplemented in case your modern diet is lacking in natural folate. Around 50% of people have a tiny genetic defect (referred to as a SNIP) on the MTHFR gene which, to put simply, makes it difficult to break down and absorb folic acid. Look for pre-natal vitamins with ‘methyl-folate’ listed on the ingredients or you can use folinic acid. These types are more readily absorbed than straight out Folic Acid. You’re looking to take 500mcg per/day unless you’ve already had another baby with spina bifida/cleft palate then consult your doctor. Look for ‘folinic acid (activated vitamin B9) Levomefolate calcium (calcium L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate) equiv. levomefolic acid (5-MTHF) (active vitamin B9)’ on the ingredients list. Caruso’s also sell folinic acid tablets which are cheaper. There’s no harm in taking the Folinic or MTHF supplements as directed instead of the standard folic acid.
Iron is also vital for your developing bub. Consider your iron needs and if you want a supplement with or without, as it is constipating but your body’s almost doubling the amount of blood it has in it and growing a blood rich placenta so it takes a lot of iron and anaemia is common in pregnancy, again if your modern diet leaves a bit to be improved. Floradix/floravital is a gentle non-haem (plant) iron which is well-absorbed by the body, gentle on the tummy and vegan. Take Iron with Vit C (Orange Juice) to increase its absorption. Avoid calcium near the iron because it blocks absorption. So have the iron with Vit C at a separate time of the day to your milk in a smoothie for example.
Just so you know, while pregnant your heart rate increases by about 15 beats per minute and your heart moves out of the way of your growing uterus. And it’s not just your boobs that grow, your lung capacity expands to deal with increased oxygen demands so your whole rib cage expands! There are so many changes, and the best bit? Your body just does them. It knows what to do. Sit with that for a second. You don’t need to plan to split cells, grow bones or make a little human heart, your body just does it. So how’s that for trusting in the process!
Even if it’s never been a problem, pregnancy often causes constipation because it changes the smooth muscle contractility in the gut. Constipation can cause haemorrhoids before the ‘birth’ pushing (which is what a lot of people think causes them). Look for a simple stool bulking agent like psyllium husks or flaxseed and keep very well hydrated. Fibre supplements can make constipation worse if you don’t keep your bowel well hydrated! Psyllium will turn gluggy if left for more than a couple of minutes so stir it into juice and leave for 30 seconds then down the hatch. It can also be gritty if you drink it too soon after mixing. Metamucil is made from very finely ground and flavoured psyllium husks and is suitable. Or you could buy fibre capsules if you don’t like the drinks. You can get those easily from the supermarket, or chemist if you can’t find anywhere else. Flaxseed will need to go into a smoothie or on cereal as it’s not as palatable just mixed with juice. If that’s not enough go for a softener like coloxyl or one that draws water into the bowel like movicol. Senna can give you cramps as it stimulates the bowel to contract and empty so steer clear.
There’s a huge range of prenatal vitamins if you choose to take one. Bioceuticals sell a pregnancy multi called InNatal with a good amount of easily absorbed folate. I’m using NaturoBest with this current pregnancy as I’m pretty sensitive to multi-vitamins, I get pain and nausea. I’m tolerating it really well and I’m happy with the ingredients and their amounts. It’s not making me sick but I do still make sure I eat when I have them. I’d recommend it and will stick with it but had no issues with the Bioceuticals one either. Avoid regular multi-vitamins during pregnancy as you want to avoid Vitamin A.
Lentils and chickpeas are great for both iron and fibre so try and add in to meals where you can. You needs lots of protein in pregnancy so increase your intake of eggs, milk, yoghurt, tofu, hummus, tuna/salmon, oats, cottage cheese, almonds. Heck even substitute your toast spread for peanut butter, it all adds up. This is especially important if you find your intake isn’t great due to nausea or reflux. If you can’t tolerate meat proteins with meals make sure you definitely increase your protein rich snack intake. Lots of those things are high in calcium too, which you also needs lots of… Bonus!
Caffeine isn’t great as I’m sure you know, early on it can cause miscarriage and if you have too much late in pregnancy your bub could actually be born addicted (I’ve looked after little babes withdrawing from caffeine and it’s pretty nasty). Max 2 cups of instant a day is ok, but remember caffeine is also in chocolate, tea and soft drinks (even some non-cola ones!) so if your diet’s leaning to the junk food side of things, you might be having more than you planned.
And lastly but probably most importantly, DRINK WATER!! Start logging your water intake. Buy a nice glass bottle, make that your special water bottle and drink a set number of bottles per day. Your body is increasing its fluid volume exponentially and hormones decrease your blood pressure. It doesn’t take much to become dehydrated and lightheaded. If you start getting some early uterus tightenings, increase your water as they can be made worse by dehydration.
Here’s to your healthy pregnancy and birth!
*This blog post has been taken from my signature education program, available for purchase soon! It’s a fully comprehensive online program taking you through your entire pregnancy, birth and post-partum transition. It is a step-by-step program with 1:1 sessions with me, containing information, advice and tools to keep you in the flow and help you achieve your best journey <3
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