When a woman is pregnant, everything she takes into her body— both good and bad—is passed along to her baby. That’s why it is so important to avoid alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, and even some medicines during pregnancy.
Eating a healthy diet is also extremely important, because babies need nutrients to grow and develop properly. Among the most important nutrients is vitamin B9 (which is also known as folate or folic acid), as it can help prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. A lack of folate can also increase the risk of preterm delivery, poor fetal growth, and low birth weight.
Because of folate’s role in preventing birth defects, Health Canada recommends that every woman who is capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 μg (micrograms) of this vitamin every day in addition to the amount obtained through a healthy diet. During pregnancy, that recommendation increases to 600 μg daily, and it remains at 500 μg for as long as a woman continues to breastfeed.
Other important nutrients include calcium to help the baby’s bones and teeth develop and iron so the mother’s body can make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that is needed to make blood.
It is difficult to be sure you are getting enough of all the critical nutrients when you are eating for two, so most doctors recommend that pregnant women take prenatal vitamin supplements. These supplements are especially designed to meet the needs of pregnant women and their developing babies.
If you have questions about prenatal vitamins or need help in selecting an appropriate product, your Sobeys Pharmacist will be happy to help.
Also, check out our Baby Be Healthy program for e-newsletters, advice, and free prenatal vitamins!