Pregnancy & Supplementation | What supplements to take while pregnant

what supplements to take during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be one of the most exciting and happy experiences in a woman’s life. It can however also be a confusing and overwhelming time for some mothers-to-be. The internet, magazines, and advertisements flood women with advice on how to stay healthy during pregnancy. Many women are overloaded with advice on which supplements you should be taking. Wondering what supplement to take while pregnant? I’ll give you the top 3 in this post.

It is generally recommended that healthy pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, most days of the week. With your exercise regime now firmly in place; – see my “growing a baby and staying fit” program. Let me simplify the supplementation you need to ensure a happy and healthy pregnancy.

While most women know that high mercury seafood, alcohol, and cigarettes are off-limits during pregnancy, many are unaware that some vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements should be avoided as well.

Information on which supplements are safe and which aren’t often varies between sources, making things more complicated.

Let me start at the beginning:

Why take supplements during pregnancy?

Consuming the right nutrients is important at every stage of life, but it’s especially critical during pregnancy, as pregnant women need to nourish both themselves and their growing babies. Pregnancy increases the need for nutrients. During pregnancy, a woman’s macronutrient intake needs grow significantly. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. 

However, the requirement for micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, increases even more than the need for macronutrients. Vitamins and minerals support maternal and foetal growth at every stage of pregnancy and are required to support critical functions like cell growth.

Herbal supplements during pregnancy

In addition to micronutrients, herbal supplements are popular. Women often don’t inform their doctor they are taking them which make them a definite health risk. While some herbal supplements may be safe to take during pregnancy, there are far more that might not be. Although some herbs can help with common pregnancy complications like nausea and upset stomach, some may be harmful to both the mother and baby. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research regarding the use of herbal supplements by pregnant women, and much is unknown about how the supplements can affect expectant mothers.

Just as with medications, your doctor should approve and supervise all micronutrient and herbal supplements to ensure that they’re necessary and taken in safe amounts.

Always purchase vitamins from a reputable brand that is approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to oversee the country’s medical device and drug markets. SAHPRA is based on elements of South Africa’s Medicines Control Council (MCC). This ensures that the vitamins live up to specific standards and are generally safe to take.

1. Prenatal vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that are specially formulated to meet the increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy. They’re intended to be taken before conception and during pregnancy and lactation. Observational studies have shown that supplementing with prenatal vitamins reduces the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous complication characterized by high blood pressure and possibly protein in the urine. While prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace a healthy diet, they may help prevent nutritional gaps by providing extra micronutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy. Since prenatal vitamins contain the vitamins and minerals that pregnant women need, taking additional vitamin or mineral supplements may not be necessary unless suggested by your doctor. Prenatal vitamins are often prescribed by doctors and available over-the-counter.

2. Folate

Folate is a B vitamin that plays an integral role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and foetal growth and development. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in many supplements. It gets converted into the active form of folate L-methylfolate- in the body. It’s recommended that pregnant women take 600 ug = milligram of folate or folic acid per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities like cleft palate and heart defects.

3. Iron

The need for iron increases significantly during pregnancy, as maternal blood volume increases by nearly 50%. Iron is critical for oxygen transport and healthy growth and development of the foetus and placenta. The recommended intake of 27 mg iron per day can be met through most prenatal vitamins. However, pregnant women with iron deficiency or anaemia need higher doses of iron, managed by their doctor. Pregnant women who are not iron deficient should not take more than the recommended intake of iron to avoid adverse side effects. These may include constipation, vomiting, and abnormally high haemoglobin levels.

The bottom line

Pregnancy is a time of growth and development, making health and nutrition a top priority. While some supplements can be helpful during pregnancy, many can cause dangerous side effects in both pregnant women and their babies. Importantly, while supplementing with certain vitamins and minerals may help fill nutritional gaps, supplements are not meant to replace a healthy diet and lifestyle. Nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods, as well as getting enough exercise and sleep and minimizing stress, is the best way to ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby. Contact me for your personalised mealplan!

Although supplements can be necessary and helpful in certain circumstances, always check with your doctor regarding doses, safety, and potential risks and benefits.

Stay fit, active, take your preggie vites and – always remember “Don’t stop until you’re proud”

what supplements to take while pregnant
5 months pregnant – “Throughout my pregnancy I loved the weight room, I just made sure to adjust weight and intensity
what supplements to take during pregnancy

Pregnancy & the Weight Room | Should you lift weights while pregnant?

I get asked this question A LOT! Should you lift weights while pregnant? It is generally recommended that healthy pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, most days of the week. I can certainly attest to feeling less lethargic and invigorated after every session during my own pregnancy with Noah.

If you were physically active prior to your pregnancy, then there is a good chance that you can continue to exercise at the same level, as long as you are comfortable. This includes high impact activities such as running, which many women tend to avoid during pregnancy. Numerous studies clearly show that pre-natal exercise offers numerous health benefits for mom and baby. These include less weight gain during and more rapid weight loss once you’ve given birth. Women who train during pregnancy also tend to have easier pregnancies and fewer complications at birth. 

As long as there are no health concerns and you have been cleared for exercise by your doctor you can do the exercises you love for as long as your body lets you do it comfortably. 

Being very fond of the weight rack myself, I was tentative to keep on hitting the weights room. After my first few sessions however I realised my body will set the pace as long as I moderated weight and intensity. 

There is no reason to avoid the exercise you love especially if you trained weights before your pregnancy. Keep the following guidelines in mind to ensure no unexpected surprises

  • Wear a support belt during all your sessions, this ensures that you feel more comfortable and helps your core (transverse abdominus) and back (erector spinae) muscles cope with the added strain.
  • After the first trimester, avoid lying flat on your back (supine) to perform exercises. The size and weight of the uterus can put pressure on a major vein called the vena cava, which can restrict blood flow. Yes this is very real! -after almost passing out on my OBGYN’s table I was very aware of lying on my side during all exercises and also resting or sleeping.
  • The hormone relaxin causes joints to loosen during pregnancy, so just be mindful of that before you lift to heavy. This is a phenomenon I felt immediately during my own pregnancy so I also omit lunges or any other movement that challenges your balance or place your joints in a n unstable or strained position (it felt like my hips were loose😊). Stick to bilateral moves where both feet are on the ground.
  • Be mindful of your back throughout your session as your core strength has been compromised by the lengthening and stretching of your abdominal muscles. Your weight belt will also help with support.
  • Your goal is to maintain your weight and health not lose weight or get stronger. Pregnancy is not a time to push limits or build muscle. 
  • Strengthening your deep core (pelvic floor and transverse abdominus) is extremely important as it weakens during pregnancy to prepare for the birthing process.
  • “Distasis recti” is a condition that occurs when the “six pack muscles” begin to pull apart from the midline of the body, most notably around, above and below the belly button for a width of two fingers. Therefor training your rectus abdominus should not be your main focus during pregnancy.
  • Whichever exercise you choose during pregnancy it is important to moderate intensity. The old guideline of keeping your heart rate under 140bpm seems to be dated advice. Apply the talk test to your training. You should break a sweat but still be able to carry on with a conversation.

Contact me for my “Growing a baby and staying fit’- program that will keep you moving in the comfort of your own sitting room without fancy equipment!

Do not exercise without strict medical supervision if you suffer from the following:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Placenta previa (or other issues with your placenta)
  • History of pre-term labour 

The importance of an exercise program during pregnancy is that it should keep at maintenance level. Nothing more and nothing less. We are working towards long-term health benefits for you and your unborn child and not looking to achieve weight or performance goals.

Hope that helps!

shoud you lift weights while pregnant

Love Len

Stay fit and active and – always remember “Don’t stop until you’re proud”

should you lift weights while pregnant
5 months pregnant – “Throughout my pregnancy I loved the weight room, I just made sure to adjust weight and intensity”
should you lift weights while pregnant?

Ideal forms of Exercise During Pregnancy

It is generally recommended that healthy pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, most days of the week. I can certainly attest to feeling less lethargic and invigorated after every session during my own pregnancy with Noah.

If you were physically active prior to your pregnancy, then there is a good chance that you can continue to exercise at the same level, as long as you are comfortable. This includes high impact activities such as running, which many women tend to avoid during pregnancy.

Numerous studies clearly show that pre-natal exercise offers numerous health benefits for mom and baby. These include less weight gain during and more rapid weight loss once you’ve given birth. Women who train during pregnancy also tend to have easier pregnancies and fewer complications at birth. 

As long as there are no health concerns and you have been cleared for exercise by your doctor you can do the exercises you love for as long as your body lets you do it comfortably. The point at which running or any other exercise becomes uncomfortable will vary from person to person depending on how big you carry, the way you carry etc. Some women can run up until seven or eight months. Just wear a support belt and good sports pregnancy bra and always good shoes. Jipeeee!!..;-)

Being very fond of the weight rack myself, I was tentative to keep on hitting the weights room. After my first few sessions however I realised my body will set the pace as long as I moderated weight and intensity.

If you are a beginner, do not start a rigorous exercise program. Your body is not accustomed to doing a certain type and intensity of exercise. Adding the demands of physical exercise to those of pregnancy may then do more harm than good. Pregnancy however is the ideal time to get moving. Nowhere in the literacy does it say anything about moderate exercise being harmful or unsafe even in sedentary women. So; walk the dog, the hubby, the friends and the neighbours. It looks like we’ll at least have some freedom in the near future.

How do you start? Regular brisk walks are the ideal way to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Some other great low impact exercises include spinning and rowing. Swimming is also a great choice because it creates a weightlessness that soothes aching joints. Always wanted to attend a class? Well Prenatal yoga and preggie-pilates are popular options. Still homebound? Contact me for my “Growing a baby and staying fit’- program that will keep you moving in the comfort of your own sitting room without fancy equipment.

Do not exercise without strict medical supervision if you suffer from the following:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Placenta previa (or other issues with your placenta)
  • History of pre-term labour 

The importance of an exercise program during pregnancy is that it should keep at maintenance level. Nothing more and nothing less. We are working towards long-term health benefits for you and your unborn child and not looking to achieve weight or performance goals.

Hope that helps!

Stay fit and active and – always remember “Don’t stop until you’re proud”

  • 5 months pregnant – “Throughout my pregnancy I loved the weight room, I just made sure to adjust weight and intensity”
Exercise during pregnancy

Pre-exercise Checklist During Pregnancy

Expectant moms often worry that exercise during pregnancy could harm their health or that of their developing baby. However, if a pregnant woman is otherwise healthy, undergoes regular prenatal check-ups with her OBGYN and is not considered a high-risk pregnancy, then there is absolutely nothing harmful about working out according to Carlene Steenekamp -pre and postnatal exercise specialist.

Numerous studies clearly show that pre-natal exercise offers numerous health benefits for mom and baby. These include less weight gain during and more rapid weight loss once you’ve given birth. Women who train during pregnancy also tend to have easier pregnancies and fewer complications at birth. Being very fond of the weight rack myself, I was tentative to keep on hitting the weights room. After my first few sessions however I realised my body will set the pace as long as I moderated weight and intensity.

Having said that what are the prerequisites before diving into any exercise program? 

At the moment in South Africa you won’t be going to the gym anytime soon so what should you consider before starting an at-home workout program?

First and Foremost, getting the all-clear from your OBGYN. Make sure you get adequate sleep before embarking on this voyage and that your diet is well balanced and devoid of harmful substances like alcohol. – see my blog; Dietary guidelines for a happy, healthy pregnancy.

Do not exercise without strict medical supervision if you suffer from the following:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Placenta previa (or other issues with your placenta)
  • History of pre-term labour 

If you have exercised regularly before pregnancy there is no reason to stop. You may need to alter your routine slightly to ensure your safety and the safety of your baby so be flexible and call in a professional😊. If you have not trained for a while you will need to be more cautious and would also benefit from an individualised program. Contact me for your personalised “Growing a baby and staying fit” program!

The importance of an exercise program during pregnancy is that it should keep at maintenance level. Nothing more and nothing less. We are working towards long-term health benefits for you and your unborn child and not looking to achieve weight or performance goals.

If you are in need of a workout plan during your pregnancy, please contact me.

Hope that helps!

Stay fit and active and – always remember “Don’t stop until you’re proud”

5 months pregnant – “Throughout my pregnancy I loved the weight room, I just made sure to adjust weight and intensity”

Pregnancy checklist, exercise checklist