This post was sponsored by Avion Pharmaceuticals and opinions are my own.
I'm so excited to be teaming up with Prenate® vitamins again to talk about the importance of prenatal vitamins. Once again, I can't stress enough how lucky I felt to have a straightforward, uncomplicated pregnancy and then be able to give birth to a healthy baby, so the issue of access to prenatal vitamins has become something I've been really passionate about these past few months.
Maybe it's my family's history of breast cancer or my BRCA gene mutation, but a lot of the time when I would imagine pregnancy and childbirth I always pictured complications that were out of my control, so it was really important to me to try to stay as healthy as possible leading up to getting pregnant and throughout my pregnancy. I focused on my diet, fitness, and actually started taking prenatal vitamins for about a year before we planned to get pregnant, which seems like a long time--but it takes time for folate levels to rise enough to help reduce the risk of birth defects, so it's recommended that you take prenatal vitamins for at least 4 weeks before conception. 1-3 Folic acid is one of the most essential nutrients women can take to protect the health of the baby, lessening the risk of neural tube defects 1-4 , so I really wanted to make sure I gave myself some time to get those levels up.
I think we all know how important it is to keep up with them, but a prenatal vitamin truly is one of the easiest things you can do to take care of yourself and your baby before (and after) he or she even gets here. During pregnancy, drinking enough water and taking my vitamin became the thing I knew I could do and control no matter what other symptoms I may have been feeling. I was super nauseated the first trimester and about half of the second. After that, I had heartburn that really defined what I did (or didn't) eat, so I was able to rest knowing that Sophie was getting the nutrients she needed from my prenatal vitamins, even when my diet was lacking a little bit. Iron is another important mineral that supports the baby's growth, development, and may prevent iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women. 5,6 I still ended up with anemia about halfway through my pregnancy, so my midwife added an iron supplement to my vitamin regimen as well and it took care of it after a few weeks.
And now that I'm nursing, I continue to take prenatal vitamins to ensure that Sophie gets the vitamins and minerals that she needs from me. I pictured my life after baby and it included lots of healthy food and plenty of exercise, but those first few months were a bit of a whirlwind. Between recovering from labor, sleep deprivation, and the crazy hunger I felt from producing breast milk, there were several months where I would eat pretty much whatever you put in front of me. Six months later, I'm finally starting to take control of my diet again, but I'm so glad to have my vitamins to fall back on when my diet and/or lifestyle is less than ideal.
That's just my experience so far, but on a more general note, did you know that women are more likely to take their prenatal vitamins when prescribed by their physician7? And that in many cases they can be covered by insurance? Prescription prenatal vitamins are often made more affordable through Medicaid coverage to women who would not have access to prenatal vitamins through other sources, giving as many women and babies as possible a solid start. In addition, many prescription prenatal vitamins often offer savings coupons to help reduce the cost. I didn't know that prescription prenatal vitamins were a thing, but i love the idea of prescribing vitamins for before, during, and after pregnancy--they're just as important as many other prescription medications, so I think making that shift is so smart.
You can visit Prenate.com to learn more about prescription prenatal vitamins, which I didn't even know about until recently! Thanks again to Avion for sponsoring this blog post--I'm honored to have the opportunity to spread the word about an issue so important.
This post was sponsored by Avion Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed to constitute medical advice. My personal story and opinions are my own. I am not a medical professional and am not qualified to give medical advice. Please talk with your doctor about your individual medical situation.
1. Czeizel AE, Dudás I, Paput L, Bánhidy F. Prevention of neural-tube defects with periconceptional folic acid, methylfolate, or multivitamins? Ann Nutr Metab. 2011;58(4):263–271.
2. Chidambaram B. Folate in pregnancy. Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences. 2012;7(2):81. doi:10.4103/1817-1745.102559.
3. Greenberg JA, Bell SJ, Guan Y, Yu Y. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2011;4(2):52-59.
4. NIH. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Folate. Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH Web site.
http://ods.od.nih.gov/pdf/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional.pdf. Reviewed March 2, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018.
5. Scholl TO. Maternal Iron Status: Relation to fetal growth, length of gestation and the neonate's endowment. Nutrition reviews. 2011;69(Suppl 1):S23-S29. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00429.x.
6. Raman TR, Devgan A, Sood S, Gupta A, Ravichander B. Low Birth Weight Babies : Incidence and risk factors. Medical Journal, Armed Forces India. 1998;54(3):191-195. doi:10.1016/S0377-1237(17)30539-7.
7. Robison, J. More Women Aware of "Pre"-prenatal Vitamin. Gallup Organization, on behalf of the March of Dimes. http://news.gallup.com/poll/6130/more-women-aware-preprenatal-vitamin.aspx. June 4, 2002. Accessed April 23, 2018.