A well-balanced diet can set you and your child up for a healthy pregnancy and beyond, but often nature needs a little nudge to make sure both of your bodies are getting the exact nutrients they need.
“Supplements are essential to ensure you and your baby are well-nourished and healthy before and throughout the term of the pregnancy,” says Dr. Anitha Sophia Biju, MBBS, MD (OBGYN), specialist obstetrician and gynecologist at Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai.
As always, she points out, “it is best to start supplements only after consulting with your doctor and gynecologist,” with some mothers requiring a higher or lower dose of certain vitamins and minerals.
Dr. Biju has highlighted the supplements that she considers essential for those trying to conceive, mums-to-be, and new mothers, with some of these nutrients necessary throughout all stages.
B COMPLEX, ZINC, COPPER, AND SELENIUM
This collection of vitamins and minerals are often grouped together in a single supplement, says Dr. Biju. “B complex, zinc and copper and selenium help ensure a healthy baby is delivered by minimising the risk of birth defects and also help in relieving some symptoms of pregnancy.” Take prior to conception to reap the full health benefits. Pregnancy Formula, Dhs166, Equi London
DHA AND OMEGA-3
“Women should build up these essential fats at least six months prior to conception,” advises Dr. Biju. “Multiple and close pregnancies can reduce the mother’s levels of both omega-3 fatty acids and DHA.” DHA or docosahexaenoic acid is an essential fatty acid from the omega-3 family in supporting the development of the child’s brain, eye and nerve, with medical experts deeming its intake critical for fetal neurodevelopment, aiding in a safe gestation period and birth weight. However, omega-3 is most commonly found in seafood, which is restricted during pregnancy. Instead, take fish oil containing 650mg of omega-3, 300mg of which is DHA, per week to top up. Wild Alaskan Fish Oil, Dhs137, Wiley’s Finest at Aster Pharmacy
With pregnant women requiring 50 percent more iron, the mineral is used by your body to create extra blood for both you and baby, and to nourish cell growth. “Iron is critical for oxygen transport and healthy growth and development of the fetus and placenta,” points out Dr. Biju. The doctor says that women with an iron deficiency can easily develop anemia, leading to extra fatigue and reduced energy during pregnancy. Take 30mg of iron per day from pre-conception to at least six months post-birth to help your body in recovery. Wow! High Potency Liquid Iron, Dhs167, Nova Ferrum
“This vitamin is important for immune function, bone health and cell division,” explains Dr. Biju. Taken pre-natal and during pregnancy, it aids in skeleton development and muscle growth by regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphate by the body. As a post-pregnancy supplement, vitamin D passes from mother to baby via breast milk, engaging further bone growth and preventing conditions like rickets. Formula is fortified with vitamin D, making extra doses unnecessary. Women who cover or who have limited exposure to sunshine are at great risk of vitamin D deficiency, and should take pay extra attention to meeting their 10mg daily requirement. The Motherload, Dhs330, Goop Wellness
“Calcium is recommended in the first trimester as the child begins to develop bones,” says Dr. Biju. As your fetus grow, it takes calcium directly from the mother’s own supplies to build bones and teeth. To top up this depletion, pregnant women require at least 1,000mg of calcium per day. The doctor adds that calcium supplements are recommended for the mother to prevent weakened bones, for up to six months after giving birth. Pimp My Calcium, Dhs55, Hum Nutrition
One of the crucial supplements to be taken from pre-natal through to post-birth, folic acid should be taken as early as six months before conception. “Folic acid plays an integral role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production and the growth and development of your child,” says Dr. Biju. Naturally found in vegetables including broccoli, spinach and mushrooms, and eggs, and nuts as folate, the water-soluble nutrient is easily destroyed in the cooking process, making supplements of at least 400mg necessary. Taking this B group vitamin reduces the likelihood neural tube defects such as spina bifida, by supporting your baby’s nervous system development in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Super Folate, Dhs109, Blueberry Naturals at Aster Pharmacy