I’ll never forget the first bottle of Materna multivitamins I bought. It was 2007 and I was at the grocery store. I plucked the pink bottle from the shelf without even looking at the competition.
Big B and I had decided that it was time to make a baby, and I knew that it was important to have folic acid running through my body before we conceived.
The statistics were pretty convincing: spina bifida and other neural tube defects happen in the first four weeks of fetal development and taking folic acid before pregnancy can reduce the risks of some defects by more than 70 per cent. But let’s be honest, unless you’re tracking your menstrual cycle so fastidiously that you can feel your eggs dropping, chances are that you wouldn’t even know that early on if you’re baking a bun in your proverbial oven.
It was a no-brainer. I popped Materna like candy every morning. And that was before learning that researchers at SickKids discovered that women taking a multivitamin with folic acid before pregnancy helped protect their babies from tumours and some types of childhood leukemia.
Truth be told, I’m a terrible pill-taker. I was known for taking four birth-control pills at once having forgotten for as many days. Yet once you’re a parent (or on the excited verge of becoming one), you finally understand what it is to want to do anything for another human being. Anything. Armed with research and stats like these, I know few moms who wouldn’t figure out a way to remember to take a prenatal vitamin religiously to prevent any kind of disease or disorder that would keep her child as healthy as possible.
I didn’t stop taking Materna when The K Man was born, either. I knew that a multivitamin with folic acid was recommended by Health Canada for nursing moms. As a huge proponent of breastfeeding, I can’t impress upon you enough how important it is to ensure that your body has enough vitamins and minerals to support your body as it makes the liquid gold that will give your newborn the optimal start in life.
Good nutrition isn’t always the priority when you’re sleep deprived and in the throes of cluster feeding, so add a reminder to your smartphone or leave a perma-note on your kitchen table to remind you to at least take your postnatal-friendly multivitamin.
One thing I think every mom-to-be should add to her multivitamin regime is DHA. Fish oil. While Nestlé currently doesn’t have plans to incorporate DHA into Materna, you need to know that omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) does all sorts of amazing things for babies in utero: it helps with brain and retinal development; can reduce the risk of premature birth; and can increase birth weight. And that’s just the upsides for Baby. Mama benefits, too, with some studies citing lowered risk of pre-eclampsia, among other things.
Since fish is the best source of heart-healthy DHA, and we’re warned from eating too much of them during pregnancy thanks to their potentially high mercury levels, a supplement is (in my non-medical opinion) a safer option. So hit up your local health food store and ask for a high-quality DHA or EPA supplement, and leave that bottle beside your pre- or postnatal multivitamin so you remember to take it.
Because, honestly… what’s the downside?
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DISCLAIMER: Nestlé Canada provided compensation for this post. All anecdotes and opinions expressed are solely my own and not influenced by dolla-dolla billz, yo.