Monday, November 15, 2010

Pregnancy nutritional supplements – wading through the options

A year before I became pregnant with Olivia, I started taking prenatal vitamins.  The main reason was because I was on seizure medication for about 20+ years (I've been seizure free for 20), and off the meds for three, but my doctor counseled me to bump up my folic acid intake to counteract any possible medication that was still in my system (my medicine was known to cause birth defects).  She also suggested it was a good idea to be taking prenatal vitamins well before we started trying (and before I went off the pill) in case we got pregnant sooner than planned.

I tried several varieties, including Materna (which were the size of horse pills!) and these lovely small pink pills (for the life of me I can’t remember the brand, they were discontinued shortly after I started buying them).  I ended up finding a store brand at Costco for less than $10 a bottle, and I compared them with Materna and they had the exact same profile.

After losing Olivia, my OB specialist recommended I start using PregVit Folic 5, which had 5 mg of folic acid instead of the usual 1mg.  They recommended this for all women who lost a baby due to abnormalities as the increased folic acid would help fend off future occurrences.  Even though Olivia’s genetic testing results came out negative (amniotic bands aren’t genetic), we went ahead and filled the prescription as we didn’t think it was possible to have too much of a good thing like folic acid!

Here’s the official product writeup from the company website:

Easy to swallow, PregVit folic 5 and PregVit are formulated to minimize the troublesome side effects associated with other multivitamin therapies.

In addition, to meet the needs of thousands of women with celiac disease or with lactose intolerance, Duchesnay has announced that PregVit folic 5 and PregVit do not contain gliadin-gluten, lactose or tartrazine.

PregVit folic 5 and PregVit were developed according to rigorous standards and evidence-based data in order to reduce the iron-related maternal side effects and to optimize the absorption of essential nutrients needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding, namely iron, calcium and folic acid. To eliminate the negative action that calcium exerts on iron when combined in the same tablet, PregVit folic 5 and PregVit provide iron and calcium into two different tablets to be taken at different times of the day, as recommended in Health Canada’s National Guidelines. It results in optimal iron absorption with a marked reduction in troublesome side effects such as constipation and gastrointestinal disturbances.

PregVit folic 5 and PregVit are provided on prescription only.

I have to say, I LOVE these vitamins.  You take two per day and they aren’t much larger than a typical painkiller like Aleve or Tylenol.  My only challenge was the dosage instructions: I was supposed to take 1 pill 1 hour before I ate in the morning (which is impossible when you’re pregnant because the first thing you do when you get out of bed is eat) and one before bed.  I mentioned this to my OB and she suggested reversing the dosage and taking the night pill in the morning and the morning pill before bed, as it would have the same absorption effects.  It worked like a charm!

I will admit, these are not cheap!  Even with my drug plan (which covers 90% of prescriptions), I still had to pay $35 for three boxes (3 months worth).  So if you don’t have a drug plan, you should try to hit up your doctor for samples (mine gave me a few boxes to try them out).

Now that I have the vitamins covered, I’ve been trying to improve my diet and continue exercising.  My cravings haven’t been too extreme, in fact my early Mexican and Greek cravings have faded and I’m back to a normal appetite.  I’m pleased to report that at my last doctor’s appointment (3 weeks ago), I had only gained 4 pounds (whoo hoo!).  We’ll see how I do at my appointment next week (eek!).

At the Baby Time Show yesterday I picked up a chocolate sample of the new Similac Mom meal replacement drink.  I have to admit….it’s TASTY!  They market it on their website as:

the first and only nutritional beverage for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms. Enjoy rich, great-tasting Similac Mom anytime, at home or on the go. A perfect complement to your healthy diet, it's complete balanced nutrition packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.

I’m going to see if I can find it at a reasonable price at my local pharmacy or grocery store.  I love the idea of drinking something delicious and giving baby an extra boost at the same time.  Here’s the nutritionals on the drink:

I’m not a big vegetable fan (beyond peppers, carrots, peas, corn and well-cooked broccoli) so I’m looking for easy ways to add a nutritional “boost” to my diet.  Any other suggestions?

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