It’s been advised, time and time again: begin taking a high-quality, complete prenatal vitamin supplement as soon as you start thinking about conception. Why? To put it simply, when you become pregnant, your growing baby pulls from your nutrient storage to develop everything from fingers to heart to spinal cord. So, needless to say, you want to be prepared when that positive pregnancy test shows up. The not-so-simple part? Your body needs more than just this prenatal vitamin during conception, pregnancy, and motherhood.
When it comes to prenatal vitamins and supplements, there is a specific, coordinated timeline, from preconception through motherhood, of when you should be taking particular supplements (on top of your core prenatal vitamin) to properly and fully fuel your body and the development of your baby during this precious time. But what are those supplements and when do you take them?
This can be daunting, I understand. I’ve been there – sorting supplements, doing my research, stressing about what I’m putting in my body during pregnancy, praying that I’m taking everything into account for our baby’s development. That’s why this article breaks it all down for you: we will examine what to take and when, plus, why each supplement is incredibly important during that specific time.
To help us understand the ins and outs of a prenatal protocol, I interviewed Dr. Banafsheh Bayati, MD, OB/GYN, FACOG and Medical Co-Founder of Perelel, the first OB/GYN-founded vitamin targeted to each unique stage of the motherhood journey. Dr. Bayati knows her nutrients and is on a mission to help women be smart about supplements. “Because timing of nutrients matters,” she says
“Timing of nutrients matters.” –Dr. Banafsheh Bayati, MD, OB/GYN, FACOG, Medical Co-Founder, Perelel
In order to take the overwhelm out of the sorting, choosing, and questioning, “Perelel created clean vitamins targeted for each unique stage of motherhood: preconception, first, second and third trimester, postpartum and into motherhood.” Each stage has a very specific formula of supplements, on top of the core prenatal vitamin, and has daily individually wrapped pill packs to make it even easier. Dr. Bayati shares what those specific supplements are, providing you with the ultimate pre- and postnatal vitamin checklist.
Timing your nutritional intake used to be cumbersome and expensive. Not anymore.
Here are the 5 nutrients and supplements to add to your pre- and postnatal motherhood routines, and why each is essential for full-spectrum development, according to the expert, Dr. Bayati.
First thing’s first: if you are considering family building or are already pregnant, begin taking a prenatal vitamin immediately. On top of that, you have the opportunity to build an even more robust regimen, throughout the entire motherhood journey, knowing you’re doing all you can for your body and the growth of your baby.
What should you look for in a core prenatal? According to Dr. Bayati, “targeted, bioavailable vitamins are optimal.” That means picking a vitamin that is the easiest for your body to absorb so that you get the greatest benefit. At Perelel, they live by this idea: using “high-quality ingredients in their most bioavailable format and research-backed doses,” plus, adding in the below additional supplements on top of their bioavailable “core prenatal vitamin.”
So, whether you allow Perelel to do the heavy lifting in your supplement regimen, or you build your own mini-pharmacy, let’s start at the very beginning — preconception.
Adding CoQ10, or Coenzyme Q10, into your preconception journey has a major added benefit in starting you off with a solid, healthy foundation. According to Dr. Bayati, “Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that protects our cells from damage and naturally decreases in our body as we age.” She adds, “research has shown that CoQ10 may support egg health and ovarian stimulation.”
So if you’re trying to become pregnant, adding this supplement into your preconception protocol is a great way to feel more confident about your family building efforts.
Yup – this is one that you should be taking on top of your core prenatal vitamin during your entire journey. “Omegas, when taken in the appropriate amount and format, are very good for us because they support your baby’s brain health throughout pregnancy, your inflammatory response, and your central nervous system,” explains Dr. Bayati. The fact that it takes care of you and your baby is why a full-journey usage is recommended. Your body is going through a lot before, during, and after – make sure you’re giving it a strong, healthy foundation from which to build.
But be on the lookout: many over-the-counter supplements in this category only have Omega DHA, not Omega DHA and EPA. Why is it important to have both versions? Dr. Bayati shares, “It’s important to make sure you’re taking an omega with both DHA and EPA so that it’s in its most bioavailable format. EPA helps DHA cross the placenta during pregnancy and has really great benefits to support your mood postpartum.”
Did you know that an estimated 40-60% of women can’t fully absorb the synthetic form of folate, called folic acid? And folate is a pretty big deal. Dr. Bayati tells us that “Folate is a B9 vitamin that’s very important because it helps with the formation of cells. Your nutritional needs for folate increase in early pregnancy because it helps with your baby’s neural, heart, and face development especially in the first month or two of pregnancy.”
Whether you fall in that 40-60% of women that can’t fully absorb folic acid, you may not know. What you can do to ensure you’re reaping the most benefits possible is to take a supplement made of a more bioavailable version of B9, called Methylfolate. In fact, while it’s available in their Core Prenatal throughout every stage, Perelel uses a higher dosage of this more natural variety (L-5 Methylfolate, to be exact) in their Conception and 1st Trimester Prenatal Packs, when it’s the most crucial time to incorporate this nutrient. Dr. Bayati adds, “When you take the active form of folate, methylfolate, you’re just taking the more bioavailable format so you’re a step closer to the form your body will naturally convert and use, which is especially optimal for those who cannot properly convert folic acid.”
Among other benefits, this nutrient also lowers the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and low birth weight. With all these added benefits, it’s a supplement that can offer you a bit more peace of mind and focus on a healthy future with your growing family.
Calcium and Magnesium really shine in the middle-to-late parts of pregnancy. According to Dr. Bayati, “Your calcium needs are highest in your second and third trimesters of pregnancy to support your baby’s skeletal development.” Calcium provided to your baby helps their little bones to harden, strengthen, and lengthen. (One cool thing about the Perelel is that it includes vitamin D in their Core Prenatal formulation to offer better absorption of calcium when you need it most.)
Dr. Bayati continues, “In addition to calcium, it’s also important to increase your dosage of magnesium at this time, which can help relieve some of those uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms like muscle cramps or an uncomfortable night’s sleep.”
Baby is growing strong, mom is feeling comfortable — calcium and magnesium can be the gamechangers that your pregnancy needs.
Gut health, gut health, gut health. It really is the start of everything, from digestion to immune system performance. Research shows that by taking a probiotic during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, you can not only help your own processes but also that of your growing baby’s — mothers who take a probiotic during this time are less likely to have a child with eczema. “Your microbiome during pregnancy establishes your baby’s microbiome,” says Dr. Bayati, so taking it in your third trimester can set your fast-growing little one up for tummy success.
So, after reading all that, you may feel a bit overwhelmed — maybe you thought taking a prenatal vitamin was enough, maybe you’re worried you won’t pick the right type of added supplement, or maybe you’re worried about managing the supplement sorting and organization every. single. day. from preconception through motherhood.
The nice thing about Dr. Bayati’s company, Perelel, is that it does all this hard work for you, leaving you time to care for yourself during this major life transition. Everything discussed here is accounted for in Perelel’s vitamin packs.
For every stage of motherhood — conception, 1st trimester, 2nd trimester, 3rd trimester, and motherhood — they have formulated a supplement pack (everything you’ve read here!) that works together to bring you and your baby the chances of a happy, healthy pregnancy and postnatal experience.
We understand that growing your family while having a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby is probably a top priority for you right now.
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