Pretend we are best friends getting coffee together. If I knew you might become pregnant or were struggling postpartum, I’d strongly urge you to supplement your diet with high quality supplements — before, during, and WAY after your pregnancy. Think probiotics, DHA, magnesium, and a food-based prenatal with methylfolate. I highly underestimated their value both for those precious babes in the belly and also for my own wellness.
When I was 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby my OBGYN gave me a scary lecture regarding prenatal vitamins and blood transfusions. Prior to that, my blood test indicated iron-deficiency anemia. I don’t know exactly what he said, but I know that I never missed a day of prenatals again. After baby came along, I stopped taking the vitamins whenever the bottle ran out.
Fast forward to pregnancy number two, and it is a good thing I was disciplined with the prenatal vitamin; a few hours postpartum I hemorrhaged, lost a ton of blood, and barely avoided a blood transfusion. Thankful to not have needed the transfusion, I assumed all was well, but postpartum recovery was rocky. We are talking pendulum swinging emotions. This can be expected postpartum, but come to find out later, it was exasperated by the blood/nutrient loss.
After number three, it’s safe to say, I just wasn’t myself. And if that’s your story, too, I want to shoot you straight today. Nutrients MATTER. You are growing a HUMAN. People used to say that to me, and I shrugged it off like it was no big deal. I figured my diet alone could take care of the needs of my body and my baby. In actuality, those
suckers babies suck your nutrients dry. It wasn’t until after my third that I realized just how important some of those nutrients are… for EVERYTHING.
I walked into a PHD nutritionist’s office 18 months postpartum because I couldn’t sleep. Apart from that, I just didn’t feel great. I assumed this is just what life with three kids felt like. I didn’t expect the nutritionist to explain that the insomnia had everything to do with having three kids in four years.
It turns out, serotonin (and melatonin) production is dependent on your body’s ability to break down folate, the ingredient known to prevent birth defects. If you’ve ever heard people talk about the genetic variance called “MTHFR,” they’re talking about this. Many Americans genetically cannot break down folic acid, the synthetic version of folate that they put in most prenatals. On top of that, you need a healthy gut to absorb folate, even from natural sources like spinach. This will affect everything in your body from sleep to hormones. I’m speaking as an amateur, but it made perfect sense when it was explained to me.
Through my own research, I found out that pregnancy changes the microbiome of your gut. Pregnancy also depletes you of key nutrients that actually matter for day-to-day functioning.
Name the short list of symptoms you might experience during pregnancy. Insomnia, constipation, “charlie horse” cramps in your calf in the middle of the night (ouch!), heartburn and reflux, yeast infections, Group B Strep, or weird cravings? We accept these as a normal part of pregnancy, but some research suggests that nutrient depletion may be to blame. If you never quite felt yourself after the kids came along, it could be nutritional deficiency. At the very least, that’s a good place to start.