The health of both you and your partner before and during pregnancy, influences the health of your baby and generations to come. The average age of women giving birth is now 31 years, unfortunately along with older age in pregnancy comes an increase risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and problems with the placenta. These in turn put the growing baby at risk. Recent research suggests that how nutritious the pregnancy environment is can influence the risk of chronic disease later in life.
Malnutrition, or nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy, can effect the baby’s birth weight and increase the risk of neural tube and congenital defects. Low intake of nutrients such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium and vitamins A, B and C are associated with premature birth and low birth weight. Our modern day conditions of mass production and transport of food can render us poorly nutritioned even when we eat reasonably well.
Multivitamin supplementation in pregnancy provides extensive benefits to the mother and baby. For example a good quality multivitamin has been shown to lower the risk of developing pre-eclampsia and having a baby with low birth weight. Not to mention the prevention of neural tube defects.
As a health practitioner it is a great opportunity to positively influence the health of the mother and baby, both short and long term, providing preventative health care at it’s best! Obviously the safety of the baby is paramount, therefore superior quality practitioner products are essential, as they are supported by research and prescribed by a qualified and registered practitioner. Practitioner products provide the purest ingredients in a form that is highly absorbed by the body, without all the added nasties.
Key nutrients that have been shown to have the greatest effect are;
Folic acid & Choline– for the prevention of congenital defects such as neural tube defects, improves female fertility and quality of the early embryo. Up to 50% of the population require the active form folinic acid due to a gene polymorphism. Choline promotes brain development particularly in the later stages of pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
B-Complex vitamins- B2, B6, B12 & folic acid help support the health of DNA. A deficiency of these nutrients can lead to high homocysteine levels in the blood. This is related to pre-eclampsia as well as poor foetal outcomes such as low birth weight and spontaneous abortion.
Vitamin D & Calcium- A vitamin D deficiency reduces female fertility and can increase the risk of pre-eclampsia by up to five fold. Good amounts of calcium influences foetal growth and maternal blood pressure.
Iron- anaemia increases the risk of foetal growth problems and premature delivery. Not to mention the health of the mother during and after childbirth.
Iodine- essential for thyroid health and the production of thyroid hormones in both mother and baby.
Magnesium- plays a very important role in optimising health for both mother and baby. This mineral influences the development of high blood pressure and substantially reduces the risk of cerebral palsy, gross motor dysfunction and cognitive dysfunction in preterm babies. Magnesium also improves foetal growth. The severity and occurrence of leg cramps in pregnant woman was shown to be reduced with supplementation.
Zinc- A key nutrient in the fertility of both men and women, influences gene expression and significantly reduces preterm birth. Zinc status correlated with the severity of depression scores in women after the birth of their baby.
Diet and lifestyle factors also contribute to a healthy pregnancy and baby. Education about good quality wholefoods as well as the avoidance of dietary and environmental toxins carries just as much importance as supplementation.
Supporting men and women in getting pregnant and during pregnancy is an exciting time to be able to optimise the health of the whole family. Good preconception and pregnancy care has the power to prevent chronic disease long term, as well as to be able to influence the health of generations to come.