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How to Shop for Prenatal Vitamins

A nutritionist cheat sheet for all your prenatal vitamin needs.

How to Shop for Prenatal Vitamins

A simple Amazon.com search for prenatal multivitamins yields over 250 unique results. What used to be mainly available by prescription-only is now widely accessible over the (virtual) counter. And, they come in every form, shape and size, with varying nutrient profiles.

But, not all prenatal multivitamins are created equal, and while some are truly better than others, there is no universally perfect supplement. Choosing the right bottle depends on your personal diet, lifestyle and preferences.

When walking down the prenatal vitamin aisle, choose the form you are most comfortable with when it comes to your tolerability and schedule. Choose a brand that has no artificial ingredients and has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Scan your diet to find any gaps in the key nutrients (iron, DHA, calcium, vitamin D plus B12 and zinc for vegans) and confirm the brand you choose meets the minimum requirements. If you’re unsure of your diet, you can always get your levels checked for some peace of mind, or consult a Registered Dietitian who can guide you.

Here’s our cheat sheet for finding the perfect prenatal vitamin for your pregnancy.

All-Around Pregnancy Health

There are 5 key nutrients all pregnant women need, whether from diet or a supplement: folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D and omega 3. Folic acid supports neural tube development, iron helps oxygen delivery to the baby, calcium and vitamin D maintain bone growth, and omega 3 promotes brain development. You don’t necessary need all of these nutrients in supplement form. Do a quick review of your personal diet to find where you may have gaps that your prenatal vitamin will need to fill. Because your nutrient levels and absorption may change during pregnancy, it is always an option to get your levels checked in the beginning and throughout pregnancy to see where you stand.

Nutritionist Picks: Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System (if you can swallow 6 tablets), Similac Prenatal Vitamin + DHA, Rainbow Vitamin World Prenatal Mega Complex, Healthy Mama, Rainbow Light .

Vegan

Find a multivitamin with iron, calcium, DHA sourced from algae, as well as with vitamin B12 and zinc.

Nutritionist Picks: Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System will provide you with nice amounts of vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and calcium, however you need additional DHA supplement. Deva Vegan Prenatal is designed for vegans with adequate vitamin B12 and zinc, however, it does not contain DHA and sufficient amounts of calcium or iron, so you will need to ensure your diet can make up the rest, or you will require additional supplements.

Iron Deficiency

If you are iron deficient, vegan, vegetarian or just not a big carnivore, choose a supplement with at least 20 mg of iron to ensure that you’re getting in at least 75% of your iron requirements.

Nutritionist Picks: Similac Prenatal Vitamin + DHA, Deva Vegan Prenatal, Zahler Prenatal, Honest Company Whole Food Prenatal, Nature Made Prenatal, BellyBar Prenatal Chewable Vitamin, Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System , Mommi shake.

Sensitive Stomach

If you have a very sensitive stomach, are not tolerating your current prenatal, and are prone to severe constipation, you may want to try an iron-free supplement. Be sure to up your intake of iron rich foods like beef, lentils and blackstrap molasses.

Nutritionist Picks: VitaFusion, SmartyPants PreNatal, First Response Prenatal

Dairy Free

For those avoiding dairy and milk, pick a supplement with 1,000 mg of calcium to get in your daily fix. There is a cap on how much calcium our bodies can absorb at once, so you will likely need to take 2 pills a day.

Nutritionist Picks: Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System, Vitamin World Prenatal Mega Complex

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially in NYC, so most mamas-to-be can benefit from some added Vitamin D. If you avoid dairy and sunlight, or are vitamin D deficient (a quick blood test to find out), choose a multi with at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D.

Nutritionist Picks: Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System, SmartyPants PreNatal, Mykind Organics Prenatal, Honest Company Whole Food Prenatal , New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamin

Low DHA Intake

If you not eating fatty fish 3x a week or getting in your fair share of chia seeds and walnuts, choose a supplement with at least 200 mg DHA, an essential nutrient for your growing baby’s brain.

Nutritionist Picks: Similac Prenatal Vitamin + DHA, Spectrum Essentials Prenatal DHA, Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA, Zahler’s Prenatal + DHA, First Response Reproductive Health, Mommi Shake, Nature Made Prenatal + DHA

Probiotics and Prebiotics

While probiotics and prebiotics are not necessities, these gut friendly add-ons can promote digestive health. If you are prone to gas and bloating, steer clear of supplements with prebiotics (though probiotics are still okay), which may be aggravating. If you are buying a supplement with probiotics be mindful of how you store the bottles since probiotics are temperature sensitive. Some prenatal supplements contain laxatives, but because laxatives can cause cramping, it’s best to start with a vitamin without one.

Nutritionist Picks: If you struggle with constipation, choose supplements with probiotics to help with regulation, like Rainbow Light One or Honest Company Whole Food Prenatal.

Pills vs. Alternative Forms

Prenatal multivitamins come in so many forms- softgels, tablets, capsules, chewables, gummies, powders and juice preparations -and this is when want to choose the bottle you are most comfortable with. Some supplements require you to take up to 6 pills per day, so before grabbing a bottle, check what the recommended dosage is. If you are the busy, forgetful type a one-a-day may be a better option. Generally, if you can swallow pills, soft-gels, tablets and capsules are better options since they do not contain the added calories and sugar commonly found in gummies, powders, and juices.

Nutritionist Picks: If you cannot tolerate swallowing big pills, some alternatives are Belly Bar Chewables, Rainbow Light Petite Prenatal(small pill size), drink mixes like Premama Prenatal Vitamin Drink Mix, or a prenatal protein shake mix like Mommi Shake.

Please avoid!

There are a few key things you want to avoid when choosing your supplement: artificial colors and flavors (FD&C Red #40, Yellow #6), sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol) and unsubstantiated claims. Over the counter supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, which means they can claim a lot of things without the research to support them.

Ditch the bottles that sound too good to be true, like promises of breast enhancement - you can’t make this stuff up! Many prenatal supplements are made with gelatin, so take note if you avoid gelatin for any specific dietary observances or veganism. And, steer clear of your regular, non-prenatal multivitamins. They may contain mega dosages of certain nutrients, especially vitamin A, which may not be safe for the baby. So, it’s best to stick with a supplement formulated for pregnancy.

Nutritionist No-Nos: Unfortunately, artificial food coloring is commonly found in the lower price point supplements, such as Walgreens Prenatal as One A Day Prenatal. Some prenatal multivitamins contain digestive enzymes, like Rainbow Light Complete Prenatal System - while these enzymes are not harmful or dangerous, they may not actually improve your digestion.

Remember, that your body is changing by the week, so keep an open mind. The benefit to having so many options is that there is room to experiment and find what works best for you. Ultimately, while the prenatal multivitamins are important feel confident that you are able to nourish your body and baby with a well balanced, nutritious.

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As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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