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supplements during pregancy

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've taken a lot of supplements pre-pregnancy and throughout pregnancy (anti-oxidants such as acai, alpha lipoic acid, grapeseed extract), flaxseed oil, fish oil, and vegetarian omega 3's (DHA and EPA), and also organic spirulina tablets.  I also recently switched from my prescription prenatal vitamin to a raw/ whole food prenantal vitamin.  My OB expressed 'concern' about this and said that the supplements could contain heavy metals and I should avoid them during pregnancy and that I should not have switched prenantal vitamins.

 

I also got scolded for refusing my glucose tolerance test.  (My DH was upset about all of this and thinks that we should switch to a midwife, but I feel like it's too late now, entering 3rd trimester this week).  

 

Do any of you take supplements and what are your thoughts about this?

post #2 of 13

I feel like there is an element of truth in being concerned about taking supplements.  There are SO many different kinds and so many different companies and not a lot of regulation about them.  I think there are certainly brands that I wouldn't have a problem taking, but I do think that those choices should be well researched.  I think many practitioners have a general perspective about the pros and cons of supplements, and depending on their experiences with them will tend to be all or nothing about them (along with other treatments based on cases they tend to see regularly or have a particular interest in).  Supplements can be a sticky subject just based on the fact that they are not regulated very well, and it's definitely possible to make yourself sick with certain combinations of things, or too much of things, or things may be contaminated, and since a lot of supplements are "self prescribed", it can be hard to zero in on things that are or could be causing problems.

 

Personally the only supplements I take are Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Probiotics.  I don't take the FCLO every day, only when I have a hankering for it, and it typically tastes "good", but every so often it starts to taste "bad" to me, and I take that as a sign that my body doesn't need it, so I lay off for a while.  I take the probiotics to supplement the fermented foods I eat, just so that I have a "back up" if I'm not eating as many ferments as I would like.  I am trying to make sure that my intake of iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, vit D, vit A, and fat, amongst others are up there, and that I am not eating things or cooking things in a way that would impede absorption of those things.   

 

When DS was a baby he had a lot of food intolerances and it made me do a lot of research into food and diet, and making changes in my diet allowed me to uncover that I had a lot of issues as well.  I had to do food diaries and elimination diets in order to help out DS, and I got used to really listening to what my body needed and what made it feel "right" and what made me feel "off".  Most supplements have binders and fillers and make me feel "off" (as well as bothering DS).  Or it just might be that the proportion of vitamins/minerals just wasn't "right" for me (i.e. there are certain ratios and combinations of minerals that are ideal for functioning and an imbalance in these can actually cause psychotic symptoms), so I decided that I would just eat real healthy foods, and I have been doing really well ever since.  Plus many vitamins are synthetic or are in a form that your body needs to convert to use, and in order to convert them you need specific precursors, which would typically come from eating a well balanced diet anyway...and many of the vitamins are fat soluble, so you would need a nice hefty dose of fat to absorb many of those vitamins, so they are mega dosed in the hopes that more will be absorbed.  

 

I think that as long as you are looking into the companies that you are getting the vitamins from (particularly the fish oils if you are worried about heavy metal or chemical contamination...and the source of the fish makes a difference too), and making sure that you aren't megadosing on things that should be more balanced, you should be fine.  But it is something that I would be careful about doing.  HTH!

post #3 of 13

Nothing you are taking jumps out as being bad, but I'm no expert.  A fish oil could contain mercury I suppose, but you can look for ones that say they don't.  I take a prenatal DHA from Nordic Naturals.  A midwife recommended it, and it has certain info on the label that makes me feel good about it.   

post #4 of 13

My guess is that none of those supplements are harmful, but also most likely have nutrients you could get in more bioavailable forms in your diet...def be careful where your fish oil is sourced from to avoid heavy metals (I take Nordic Naturals as well). It's not too late to switch to a midwife at all, at any rate definitely don't stay with an OB you're unhappy with...though almost all midwives I know (homebirth and otherwise) want you to do a glucose test, especially if your initial test was raised. 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

The fish oil is purified to remove mercury, etc.  I'm *likely* getting most everything that I need from my diet, but I would never know for certain, so that is why I take supplements.  I want to make sure that I get 100% of everything that I need everyday.  They must be doing some good because I haven't been sick in over 5 years (or longer).  Not even so much as a cold, even while pregnant.  Considering I work in 2 elementary schools everyday, I feel pretty good about that!  :)  That could be genetics, or OCD handwashing, so who knows if it is supplements or not. 

 

I don't want to be inadvertently harming my baby if there is some type of heavy metal in the spirulina or something that I'm not aware of.  Everything seems to make me nervous these days.  As far as the glucose test, I refused it because they won't let me drink my own juice.  I also have been spot checking my glucose at work and it's never been higher than 90, even after eating, so I figure that I'm ok.  I know that they do a urine dip starting at 30 weeks.   I also watch my carbs and sugar intake as well.  However, my OB wasn't convinced about my rationale.  I might just do it to get it over with, but I really don't want to drink that glucose syrup at the clinic. 

post #6 of 13

I've heard some people were able to turn in a log of their blood sugar readings for a period of time in lieu of the GTT. 

post #7 of 13

I hope I didn't make you think that I thought that you were making a bad choice or that you weren't being healthy - I was trying to give a more general perspective of issues that may come up with supplements.  You know how to take care of yourself, and I'm sure given your background you are familiar with what you are taking and why.  Most practitioners have to make an assumption that most people are not that aware of things, and that's why a lot of them feel so strongly about supplements and screening tests - most people aren't taking as much responsibility over their health. 

 

If you are butting heads a bit with your OB, I would try to let her know in a pleasant manner that you ARE actually educated about these things.  If she knows this and still doesn't trust that you know your body, then maybe it is time to make a switch to another provider late in the game.  One of the biggest things (at least for me) in terms of having an enjoyable birth is being comfortable with your birth team.  Being able to relax enough to have a smooth birth is essential, and it will be really hard to do if you don't trust your provider and/or if she doesn't trust you (since she may want to err on the side of caution if you opt out of screenings that she doesn't agree with). 

 

As per opting out of the glucose screening test, when I spoke with my MW about it I brought a food diary and several options of tests that I was willing to do to ensure that my glucose levels are good.  I then asked which of those options they thought was best. (Testing my levels for a week or the A1C (I can't remember if that's the right name anymore) which tests your over all blood sugar for the past three months or so, which is the test they give diabetics to make sure their diet plans are working).  We opted for the test strips and when I go in tonight we will go over the results.  If she is happy with them, then I go on my merry way (she should be, they have all been well withing range usually better).  If not then I would have to consider monitoring my sugars for longer (which would then require a GD diagnosis in order for insurance to cover the supplies) or do the tolerance test.  That's what has worked for me.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I hope I didn't make you think that I thought that you were making a bad choice or that you weren't being healthy - I was trying to give a more general perspective of issues that may come up with supplements.

 

No, not at all, I value your feedback and advice!!  Good idea about the food diary or A1C test (that is correct, it is the 3 month bs average).  I didn't have a food journal to produce at the visit, but I could for the next visit next Monday.

post #9 of 13

a bit off topic, but related. I am upset by the trend I see in Midwives using A1C tests for gestational diabetes. YES it is now one of the main tests for diagnosing type 2 diabetes, but since it tests the average over 3 months, and because gestational diabetes appears relatively suddenly (not slowly over years like for type2) even if you have full blown gestatational, the A1C could be normal (since your averages from the past would bring the number down). It has NO place in the testing for gestational diabetes. Doing home testing with a monitor, even if not the 'approved' way to diagnose gestational diabetes is WAY better to get an accurate picture of what is happening now.  ... sorry rant over.... I just get so frustrated when I see professionals using a test without any apparent thought about what they are actually testing. Waste of money and can give dangerous reassurance to both the provider and mama....

 

I think Omegas are great in pregnancy. There is some very positive, albeit early, research about how it can give your baby a brain boost. As long as you select one that is tested for mercury I believe it is a great idea in pregnancy. Maybe pull some of the research and give it to your OB - it will both prove you are a thinking mama who has invested energy into making safe and good decisions and might bring your OB up to speed on the current literature :)
 

post #10 of 13

Oh and I should hope your prenatals contain heavy metals.... It would be terrible if they didn't. Iron is a heavy metal. So is manganese. Both should be in your PNV.

 

I love how 'fear phrases' can be used to scare people. You should tell your OB that you make sure you get your essential heavy metals each and every day.  Of course, mercury, plutonium, and lead, the 'other' heavy metals are preferable to avoid in your PNVs :)

post #11 of 13

Your supplements looks fine to me. I'd probably bluff and say you stopped taking most of them except the new prenatal. Your OB does sound slightly concerning to me to worry over you switching to another prenatal. Most OB's I've known are just happy if you take one. My concern would be how much of a control freak are they when it comes to stuff and how much are they going to push things when you are in labor and having your baby? I don't think it's too late to look into a midwife. I have a friend that switched in the beginning of her third trimester and had a nice homebirth. 

If you are interested in that, you can at least look around and see what your options might be. Or maybe you were talking about hospital or birth center midwives? Either way, look into it if you want to, it might not be too late. 

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JNajla View Post

 

No, not at all, I value your feedback and advice!!  Good idea about the food diary or A1C test (that is correct, it is the 3 month bs average).  I didn't have a food journal to produce at the visit, but I could for the next visit next Monday.

Good! Sometimes I type things out quickly and then wonder later if the "tone" was actually what I intended!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bearandotter View Post

a bit off topic, but related. I am upset by the trend I see in Midwives using A1C tests for gestational diabetes. YES it is now one of the main tests for diagnosing type 2 diabetes, but since it tests the average over 3 months, and because gestational diabetes appears relatively suddenly (not slowly over years like for type2) even if you have full blown gestatational, the A1C could be normal (since your averages from the past would bring the number down). It has NO place in the testing for gestational diabetes. Doing home testing with a monitor, even if not the 'approved' way to diagnose gestational diabetes is WAY better to get an accurate picture of what is happening now.  ... sorry rant over.... I just get so frustrated when I see professionals using a test without any apparent thought about what they are actually testing. Waste of money and can give dangerous reassurance to both the provider and mama....

 

I think Omegas are great in pregnancy. There is some very positive, albeit early, research about how it can give your baby a brain boost. As long as you select one that is tested for mercury I believe it is a great idea in pregnancy. Maybe pull some of the research and give it to your OB - it will both prove you are a thinking mama who has invested energy into making safe and good decisions and might bring your OB up to speed on the current literature :)
 

That's a good point with the A1C - I mostly just wanted to find another option so that there were things that we could open up a discussion with.  My MW wasn't really into the A1C for me, and that's probably why.  She did say that if we were to do it, we would wait until a bit later in the pregnancy.

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySmurf View Post

 

That's a good point with the A1C - I mostly just wanted to find another option so that there were things that we could open up a discussion with.  My MW wasn't really into the A1C for me, and that's probably why.  She did say that if we were to do it, we would wait until a bit later in the pregnancy.

 

Sounds like a good plan, glad you took my comment as intended. I was thinking about it later and pondering if I came off to harsh. My harshness is directed at no one person, rather at a perplexing theme I am seeing crop up with that test. 

 

Yes to 'purposefully omitting' to the OB. There are aspects of your life/consumption he does not need to know if you continue to see him. I have personally decided I am ok with SOME kinds of sushi - but you'd better believe I'm not telling my MW about it ;)

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