Confession: I did not take a single prenatal vitamin during my first pregnancy. (and I'm not about to start now)
I just knew better for some reason. I'll admit, I didn't do my research (like you're supposed to) but I was extremely confident in my ability to feed myself appropriately as a pregnant woman. I was obsessed with our organic diet and all natural cleaning and bathing products. I also felt my age (ripe ol' 21) lent my breeding body more stability than older first time mothers that 'needed' help. Oh yes, and I had the help of a mother committed to informing me of my options. Here is evidence that I wasn't a fool:
|my extremely healthy baby boy hours after his birth|
However, being subjected to round two of every nurse, doctor, and
nosey concerned women in my life asking if I had started taking prenatal vitamins set my already overwhelmed mind a flutter. To explain: I did not take responsibility for this pregnancy until the second trimester. Mostly because we weren't quite sure if I was prego or not but really we didn't even check because we were a bit scared of the reality. Couple that with a new, exciting, but barely 3 month relationship, intense therapy sessions, and bouts of intermittent anxiety freak outs... I just frankly thought I couldn't handle the truth. Then I felt so guilty that I did what seemed natural...I listened to the people who 'knew best' and I filled my prenatal vitamin prescription last week. I knew I hadn't been eating at all right the first trimester so in a moment of desperation I thought that maybe I could combat the pitiful eating habits of the first trimester with tons of mega vitamins for the second and third trimester. Though, I haven't taken a single one.
Here is why.
1. My eating habits have improved. For the first trimester it was all I could do to remember to eat once a day. At a very unhealthy 105 pounds (I'm 5'7... so that's at least 30 pounds underweight) I had been taking steps to getting healthy again. I had stopped smoking, abandoned my whiskey obsession, and started sleeping. Next on the 'to-do' list was start eating regularly. That fact made a good argument for the vitamins. I could take them while I got on back on track. Seriously, I've been told (and read) that it's never too late to start taking prenatal vitamins. In that case, why is it not too late to start eating healthy? We left our first appointment (after finding a healthy 15 week baby) and headed straight for the grocery store. I stocked up on every variety of fruit and veggies I could find, our fave organic yogurts, crackers, nuts, and fish. I already knew that some nuts such as almonds and walnuts and certain types of fish like naturally raised salmon were excellent sources of Omega-3, a crucial nutrient for a fetus' developing brain. I've now found out that grass fed beef is another great source of Omega-3. Which I'm thrilled about.
2. This is what came in the bag with my Prenatal Plus Tablet prescription:
*and if I could take a "WTF Moment" here... why on Earth would something that is so healthy and vital for every pregnancy require a prescription?*
*there was not a single list of the vitamins this drug is made up of*
Accompanying these horse pills (that smelled terrible, btw) were not one, but TWO pages of instructions, warnings, side effects, precautions, warnings, and drug interactions.
I'm not one to judge, I am also certainly the first to admit my ignorance... but one particular line really ticked me off. After a list of side effects (constipation, diarrhea, rash, severe dizziness, trouble breathing... along with 'this is not a complete list of side effects') was this: If your doctor has prescribed this drug, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Dude, this set my argumentative, confrontational, stubborn side on edge. (and this blog is proof, eh?) My doctor hasn't sat with me once to discuss my nutritional habits nor to my knowledge done any blood work to test for deficiencies.
My concern is this. I've never been able to take a multivitamin because I literally overdose on some of the vitamins and they make me sick. What if I am getting plenty of nutrients from my 5 (well, at least 3) food-group stacked meals a day? Does the benefit of the drug (NOT vitamin according to the paperwork) outweigh the potential danger of overdosing my body... and my baby? One thing I've learned, just because it's a vitamin doesn't mean it's safe.
From what I've read so far prenatal vitamins are pushed on pregnant women for three major reasons: most don't get enough calcium, iron, or folic acid.
Here is where I've learned to get those vitamins. Fresh, raw, high quality vegetables are the best sources.
Calcium: dark green leafy vegetables, get plenty of sunlight & vitamin D as it can help with the absorption of calcium, milk, cheese (duh)
Iron: high quality grass fed red meat (there are other sources, but this one works for me just fine!)
Folic Acid: spinach, asparagus, okra, beans, green leafy vegetables
So I'm going to do more research and get back to you when I learn more. I should note I got most of my research from online sources such as Dr. Mercola, Wellness.com, and Naturopathic.org and that I AM NOT A DOCTOR. So do your own research, too.