In today’s post I’m chatting all things pregnancy supplements and the ones that I have personally taken throughout my pregnancy journey.
I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy and I think it’s about time that I sit down and chat all things supplements! I’ve been asked a bunch of times about the supplements I’m taking during my pregnancy, so I wanted to put together a post to cover them all, including which ones and why they are important for our growing body and baby.
Of course, I try to get the bulk of my nutrition from food, but pregnancy is such a unique time and our nutrient stores are constantly being taxed so certain supplements can be helpful to ensure we meet our increased nutritional needs.
Disclaimer: please note that this post is not meant to substitute the advice of your healthcare provider. These are the supplements I’m personally taking, but you should always speak to your doctor or midwife if you have any questions about what you should be taking for your unique pregnancy and situation.
Pregnancy Supplements I’m Taking
Starting with the basics, and that’s a prenatal multivitamin! I started taking a prenatal about 6 months prior to conceiving, as part of my pre-conception planning. It’s a good idea to start taking one at least 3 months before getting pregnant if possible, to give your body time to store up important nutrients like folate.
Folate is essential in the development of the neural tube in early pregnancy, which becomes the baby’s spinal cord and brain, and preventing neural tube defects.
I opted for a prenatal that contains the active form of folate, known as methyltetrahydrofolate (L-methylfolate). This form of folate is easier for your body to absorb vs. the synthetic form “folic acid” sometimes found in prenatal formulas. Your body has to convert folic acid to folate and some people have a gene variant that affects the enzyme (called MTHFR) that’s required for this conversion, making it harder to utilize folic acid. Fortunately, many companies are using the L-methylfolate form of folate more often nowadays.
I’ve taken a few different prenatals for a few different reasons:
- NFH Prenatal SAP: Prior to conceiving and up until about the beginning of my second trimester, I was taking NFH Prenatal SAP. I love the comprehensive formula (including nutrients like methylfolate and calcium), but unfortunately I had to switch brands because the smell of the capsules was severely aggravating my gag reflex and causing a pretty substantial aversion to swallowing them. I switched to New Chapter (read more below) and haven’t had any issues since.
- New Chapter One Daily Prenatal: I opted for this one-daily formula by New Chapter mostly out of the need for a break from trying to swallow more than one pill a day like I was before. This is a great formula though, with methylfolate, a good amount of iron, and also choline for extra fetal development support. It does not contain calcium however, because it’s been formulated for maximum absorption and would compete with the iron that’s in it.
- Smarty Pants Prenatal Formula: Lastly, I’ll mention that when my food aversions, nausea, and gag reflex issues were at their worst in my first trimester, I was at my wits end with trying to force down pills so I needed something that was easier to take. Smarty Pants are gummies and while they’re not my top choice for my prenatal, it was a great alternative for when I couldn’t swallow pills.
Next up is the amazing vitamin D! Vitamin D is such a wonderful nutrient that is especially important to have adequate stores of during pregnancy. Like calcium, vitamin D helps build strong bones, and because it’s not overly abundant in foods, you either need to ensure you’re getting adequate sun exposure or take a supplement.
You can request to have your vitamin D levels tested via blood work, which can be a helpful way to determine where you’re at. Because I live in Canada where we have significantly less sunshine for half the year, I take a supplement.
I like the brand D-drops, a liquid form with 1000IU per drop. Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so I always say it’s best to take it either encapsulated in an oil (fat source) or as a liquid (which is mixed with oil) for optimal absorption vs. a hard, chalky tablet.
1000-2000IU per day is usually sufficient at preventing deficiency, but many people need more than this. Always best to chat with your doctor about how much you may need.
Fish Oil / DHA
Another supplement I’m taking during pregnancy is a high-DHA fish oil. I’m taking one by Nutrasea. Fish doesn’t make up a huge part of my diet because I don’t like a lot of seafood, so taking a supplement is a great way to boost my intake of those essential omega-3 fatty acids. I also eat plenty of other omega-3 rich foods like eggs and chia, hemp, and flax seeds, but our and our baby’s needs for DHA are higher during pregnancy and fish oil is a really great way to get it in. You can also look for a vegan algae oil.
DHA is important for baby’s brain and neurological development.
Probiotics are another supplement that can be beneficial to take during pregnancy. Probiotics help support a healthy gut as well as vaginal microbiome, which is important when we consider vaginal deliveries and our babe getting inoculated with all the good stuff as they pass through.
I like Genestra’s HMF Forte (their Multi Strain formula is also great), as well as the brand Seed (I have their Daily Synbiotic)
Next up, I started taking a low-dose iron toward the end of my second trimester because blood work showed my levels were on the low end. While not anemic, my levels had decreased quite a bit since I’d gotten earlier blood work at the very beginning of my pregnancy. In discussion with my midwife, I decided taking extra iron wouldn’t hurt. I don’t take it every day though, partly because my prenatal already has some iron in it.
Iron is essential for binding to red blood cells carrying oxygen throughout our body and tissues. Our blood volume doubles (!!) in pregnancy, and our growing babe also needs this important nutrient. Anemia is actually fairly common in pregnancy because of the greater demand for iron that we may not always get enough of from diet, especially if we have struggled with morning sickness or food aversions for months on end.
I actually craved beef a lot in my first trimester, which I find interesting as it’s a particularly good source of iron. Perhaps my body knew I needed more!
I take the liquid formula by Floradix which has some added B vitamins and an assortment of plant extracts like carrot root, stinging nettle and hibiscus. Call me weird, but I actually really like the citrusy taste, even though it’s pretty metallic!
Lastly, I take magnesium. Magnesium has many roles in the body, including muscle and heart function, protein synthesis and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure. I like the brand Natural Calm. It’s fantastic for encouraging restful sleep and can be particularly useful during pregnancy for constipation as it helps draw water into the bowels and soften stool, and it’s also a muscle relaxant which can be helpful for restless legs.
I don’t take magnesium every day, but I will make myself a nice hot mug every week or two (Natural Calm is a powder that you mix with water).
That’s it for my list of supplements I’ve been taking during pregnancy! Remember to always speak to your healthcare provider about supplements you should be taking and in what amounts. If you have any questions, leave me a comment below!