Planning for pregnancy is key to ensuring a healthy embryo. The longterm health of your baby as well as their future children is determined by the health of the egg and sperm prior to conception. It is therefore of great value for you and your partner to invest a minimum of 3 months (ideally more!) into your prenatal health to help shape your child’s future for the better and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
Prior to pregnancy we encourage you to really focus on your diet to help increase vitamin and mineral levels substantially, reduce inflammation in the body and improve the gut microbiome in the hope of supporting your sex hormones and thyroid hormones specifically. This is vital for conception and the maintenance of early pregnancy.
In addition, depending on your history we may encourage you to remove gluten, soy or dairy from the diet to reduce the overall burden of inflammation in the body in order to improve egg and sperm abundance and quality.
Although conception and pregnancy draws on all the mother’s nutrient stores, there are certain specific minerals that are exceptionally important as they support your thyroid and iron levels, two systems that are put under enormous pressure in early and late pregnancy. Specifically, Selenium, Zinc, Copper, Vitamin A, Magnesium, Iron, Vitamin D, Iodine, Vitamin E and certain B-vitamins should be optimised prior to pregnancy to help sustain adequate levels throughout and into the 4th trimester. Dosing regimens are dependent on an individuals bloods and history, however we typically suggest:
- Selenium: Starting at 200mcg daily (increase to 400mcg depending on thyroid levels)
- Zinc/Copper Drops (15mg:1mg) 2 drops daily in patients who do not have a history indicative of copper excess, such as those previously using a Copper IUD for example.
- Magensium Glycinate 400mg daily. Pure Encapsulations and Nutriadvanced.
- Vitamin A through high dose Omega 3 fish oils and Grass Fed Organ meat capsules. Vitamin A is vital but it must be in the form of Retinol. Barebiology and Hirsch are the preferred brands we use.
- Iron through diet primarily, however we at time recommend supplementing with Ferrous Sulphate, 2 capsules every other day, or if your Ferritin is much below 100, we often encourage a Ferritin infusion.
- Adequate stores of Vitamin D to support immunity, reduce inflammation and promote embryo health is vital. Depending on blood results we recommend high dose injection or oral nanocelle spray replacement.
- B-vitamins, methyfolate and B12 specifically are important for cell health and creation of DNA. We encourage oral supplementation with an Activated B complex or depending on bloods, Methyfolate Drops from BioCare. Dosing and duration is dependent on your blood levels.
- Iodine deficiency is common and has a big effect on thyroid health. Testing is recommended and subsequent supplementation with Iodoral often commenced. Typical starting dose is IOD 12.5. Obtaining Iodine through food is always best for those able to.
- Choline is essential for egg health and subsequently reduces risk of Neural Tube defects and improves cognition long term. 600-900mg daily is often recommended.
- Vitamin E- Mixed Tocopherols. 400mg/day.
There are a host of Pre-natal supplements on the market and many of these contain very low quality ingredients, inadequate amounts or synthetic forms of the vitamin or mineral. The best examples of this are Vitamin E,Vitamin C and Vitamin A. They are essential in pregnancy to support mother and baby. However, most prenatal on the market contain just the d-alpha tocopherol form of Vitamin E, but instead we want Mixed tocopherols. Similarly, we want vitamin C from whole foods rather than l-ascorbic acid as otherwise it can have a negative affect on Copper levels. Lastly, we want Vitamin A in the form of Retinol rather than beta-carotene as this supports production of blood for which demand increases 50%. Therefore Vitamin A from foods such as organ meats or fish is what we encourage. For those who do not want to eat these foods, we support through high grade, grass fed beef liver supplementation to ensure adequate amounts.
Therefore, we work with our patients to tailor a personalised Pre-natal concoction of supplements for their specific needs and these can be also adjusted based on your trimester as pregnancy progresses.
1st Trimester: The body burns through Magnesium, so we encourage higher doses of Magnesium at this stage.
2nd-3rd Trimester: We increase Vitamin A and Copper as these are required in higher quantities to support the increase in blood flow. This is in the form of Beef Liver capsules, organs meats and Omega 3 high grade fish oils.
4th trimester: Restoration of blood loss through continued use of Liver supplementation and fish oils daily. Consideration of Ferritin infusion intravenously if excess blood was lost in labour is an option and will be based on your blood results.
Building your own prenatal together with a practitioner will serve to support your pregnancy and baby to ensure health and wellbeing. It is suspected that severity of morning sickness and lethargy in the first trimester is reduced if the mother has optimal nutrient stores. Similarly, maintaining good nutrient levels through pregnancy will aid in recovery after and have a positive affect on milk production and flow. Iron deficiency anaemia is common in the third trimester and this is likely due to the fact that mothers are advised to take Vitamin A out of their diets. This negatively impacts our Blood and iron production and leads to an increase chance of anaemia.
Focus on whole foods is vital, as vitamins taken independently can have negative effects on other nutrient levels. That is why we use high quality whole food supplements to support the body synergistically- Beef Liver capsules being the best example of this as it provides vitamin A, copper, B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and other trace minerals.
Exercise Pre-natal and during pregnancy:
Pre-natal exercise is important to support adrenal health, reduce stress and inflammation and encourage blood flow through the body. All forms of exercise are encouraged but the duration should be kept to 40 mins at the time as we do not want to raise our Cortisol levels, as this can negatively impact our hormone balance.
In addition, visiting a pelvic floor personal trainer in the first trimester is encouraged as they will provide you with personalised exercises to help support your body through the pregnancy that are targeted for you. This can reduce labour time, the risk of tears, long-term prolapse and leaking and reduce pelvic pain and urinary tract infections in pregnancy.
Exercise is encouraged in pregnancy and most people will be able to continue with their exercise routines from pre-pregnancy up until around 6 months. We encourage weights based exercises, aerobic exercises that are comfortable for you, especially swimming, as well as yoga and pilates to help strengthen but also relax your muscles. Be aware that you need to exercise to the extent it is comfortable and seek advice as needed. The hormone relaxin can make you feel more supple as it increases in pregnancy, relaxes your muscles and allows the body to accommodate the growing uterus.
Supporting your Immune system in four easy steps:
1.In pregnancy your more likely to get ill as your immune system dampens to allow you baby to settle in and grow and not be rejected by your body. Therefore, this is a time to really support your immune health. This is through the healthy diet you have adopted prior to pregnancy as well as the additional nutrients recommended through supplementation but in addition, adding in a probiotic daily reduces incidence of illness. Optibac-Pregnancy is one example and another is EcoDophilus from Bionutri. These can be taken throughout pregnancy and after while breastfeeding.
2.Maintaining exercise is key for moving lymph fluid and boosting the immune system. Walking daily is enough in itself. Ideally for at least 30 minutes but the main message is stay active!
3. Cold showers (advised after week 12 of pregnancy) daily, lowers stress hormones and improves immunity and blood flow. A 30 second cold shower (can be increased to 2 minutes if tolerated) is recommended and can help reduce the incidence of illness by 30%! Particularly important in these covid times!
4. Lastly, support adrenal health by maintaining your electrolytes. Potassium, Sodium and Magnesium help support the adrenal gland – which is important to your overall sense of well-being, your hormones, your sleep and your muscle health. Women often get dehydrated and supper with muscle cramps in pregnancy and this can be alleviated through electrolyte support. Viridian Electrolyte sports fix is one option or you can make your own: Pour coconut water, a squeeze of lime and 1/4 tsp of good quality salt (Maldon/Himalayan or Rock Salt) into a glass and consume a couple of times a day!