Iron keeps your risk for anemia (a common issue in pregnancy) in check and supports baby's physical growth.
If you test positive for anemia during pregnancy, look into taking an additional iron supplement. Healthy iron-rich foods include soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, iron-fortified cereal and chickens' livers.
DHA is the epitome of “brain food." In the first year alone, baby's brain will double in size. Some of this growth is thanks to fat in baby's diet both before and after birth.
DHA is a special kind of fat that can help the development of myelin sheath, a coating surrounding the brain's many axons. This myelin helps nerve cells communicate more quickly, allowing your tot to think fast and make more connections.
If you are looking to add more DHA (omega-3) to your diet, try fatty fishes (like salmon and tuna) and omega-3-fortified eggs. Vegan and vegetarian mamas, be mindful to add flax, hemp seeds and chia seeds to your diet.
This nutrient is crucial for baby's brain development. However, most foods are relatively low in iodine. Iodized salt is a good bet, but if you prefer to stick with sea salt, make sure your prenatal vitamin fulfills your daily requirements.
Probably the most important vitamin to take when baby is in the womb, folic acid wards off neural tube defects of the brain and spinal cord.
Since the brain and spinal cord develop early in pregnancy, it's best to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before you become pregnant and for at least 12 weeks into your pregnancy.
Looking for folate-rich foods? Try leafy green vegetables, nuts, rice and eggs.
Embarking on the journey of bringing a new life into the world?
Before baby is even conceived, you may be wondering (and worrying) about the development of this tiny person.
(Get used to the worrying part. Just because baby isn't on the scene yet doesn't make you any less of a mama!)
In order to promote baby's healthy development, try your best to eat a healthy diet before, during and after your pregnancy.
Start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. Doctors recommend starting them months before TTC.
Many of baby's most crucial developments occur during the first month of pregnancy (possibly before you even realize you're expecting!), so it's important to consider your nutrition as early as possible to fortify your body's nutrient reserves.
You can even take prenatal vitamins throughout breastfeeding, since they work wonders for your hair and nails.
In my work as a developmental psychologist, I have found that physical and cognitive development often go hand in hand. Early development in the womb is no exception!
The nutrients provided by a healthy diet and prenatal vitamins aren't just crucial for baby's physical development—they can have lasting impacts on cognitive development, too.
So, what's the difference between prenatal vitamins and standard multivitamins? So glad you asked, mama! Prenatal vitamins are usually higher in folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B, iodine and DHA (omega-3).
Here's how those 8 vitamins + minerals matter to your future child.
To improve your chances of absorbing more of the nutrients you are trying so hard to take in, make sure your prenatal vitamin has B6, a vitamin shown to reduce morning sickness (allowing more nutrients to stick with you and baby throughout the day).
Blocking side effects
If you think your prenatal vitamin may be upsetting your stomach, try taking it in the evening with food. Remember that the key to baby's healthy development is eating a healthy, balanced diet. Just think of your prenatal vitamins as a nutritious cherry on top!
Not all prenatal vitamins offer calcium, a necessary nutrient for baby's growing bones (as well as your own). If you do not regularly eat calcium-rich foods like leafy greens, dairy, fortified plant-based milks and fortified cereal, consider a calcium supplement or calcium-based antacid.
Bonus: If you're experiencing morning sickness, a calcium antacid can work wonders for your troubled tummy. (Is that why pregnant mamas are infamous for their ice cream cravings?!) Take an antacid with your prenatal vitamin to reduce the chances that your vitamin is actually the culprit behind your morning sickness.
Research indicates that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy is related to reduced risks of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and preterm birth.
Plus, vitamin D will help your body absorb calcium more readily, a necessity for baby's developing bones.
For foods high in vitamin D, try portobello mushrooms, salmon and fortified milks and cereals. Better yet, take a relaxing stroll outside for a little bit of sunshine.