Tag

Healthy Pregnancy

Browsing

How To Choose The Right Prenatal Vitamin During Your Pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of misconceptions especially in the early stages. There are so many thoughts, ideologies and just sheer nonsense made available to us online, it’s become difficult to decipher what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s considered necessary and what is not during pregnancy. Well, there’s one thing most know for sure, prenatal vitamins are crucial  in helping ensure both mama and baby get the necessary nutrients during this important time of development while they also help to avoid birth defects and potential pregnancy complications. However, many don’t realize the importance of making sure they are implementing a prenatal vitamin option at least six months prior to conception and that not all options on the market are created equal. Both facts, I honestly didn’t discover until after my miscarriage last fall.

At my core, I will admit I am a bit of a granola grinder and naturalist. Part of me hangs on to the idea that if we eat good food, we will be healthy and pass on that health to our growing baby. It’s a very simple idea and one I love but I understand that even eating well balanced meals doesn’t necessarily mean I am getting everything I can use. Not to mention, most foods we eat today, even when made from scratch, can contain genetically modified ingredients, colorants, antibiotics, etc. However, gone are the days of my grandmother’s generation, who were able to get all the required nutrients from the local grown foods on the small Caribbean island she came from, so I’ve come to think of prenatal vitamins as a personal trainer to help mama’s and their babies be the strongest and healthiest they can be.

I’ve used various prenatal vitamins in the past ranging from fancy physician prescribed options to over the counter drug store brands. I guess you can say paranoia crept in when I became pregnant again so quickly after the miscarriage. This time around I wanted to really ensure that both myself and this baby were getting all the required minerals and vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. I obsessed over the labels on the bottles, naturally, then did as much research on the one’s that seemed the most popular.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and try a little investigative testing on four prenatal vitamins I had purchased over the past several months. Nothing too scientific and something any of you can easily do at home. I simply put each of the vitamins in a glass of vinegar and let sit for an hour or so, mixing with a spoon periodically. Knowing, if it breaks down in the vinegar, I could be sure that it will do the same in my stomach allowing my body to easily absorb the contents. If not, I wouldn’t be digesting it properly and could potentially mean there’s a few vitamins just floating around in my stomach doing absolutely nothing. My test yielded some results that were very surprising, and hard to stomach (no pun intended), leaving  Forté Elements Prenatal+ as the only option that completely dissolved in my vinegar solution. So it should come as no surprise that this is the brand I’ve been using ever since. Also, after chatting with my midwife and naturopath, I am taking additional Folic Acid (1mg) and Magnesium at bedtime (300mg), the former to ensure I am getting the maximum amount and the latter to help me with sleep at night. The cool thing about the human body when it comes to supplements is that it knows when it’s received the right amount of nutrients. Anything over and above that is flushed out of your system.

If you’ve been pregnant before, pregnant now or have friends that have filled you in regarding the horrible and often times debilitating nausea symptoms associated with pregnancy, you may be wondering if prenatal vitamins can contribute to this undesirable side effect. Truth be told, 80% of women experience morning sickness and nausea, especially during their first trimester. I had the WORST time for the first 4 1/2 months and seriously didn’t think I was going to make it out the first tri alive and still feel queasy from time to time if not doing anything to help regulate it. When this level of nausea hits you, you will likely stop at nothing to find a solution that works in settling your tummy so you can live somewhat of a humanized life LOL! I tried EVERYTHING and often sought out advice from my followers on IG stories. It’s still unclear as to why these symptoms exist; doctors claim it was to do with the HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels and can sometimes be aggravated by prenatal vitamins. The latter is likely because your body may not be used to the extra nutrients, like iron, and will need sufficient time to adjust. When I switched over to Forté Prental+ I discovered that they also made an anti-nausea supplement and in my desperation, I had to get my hands on it right away. Forté Anti-Nausea contains a specialized blend of vitamin B6, ginger, peppermint and clove that helps ease the struggle fest caused by pregnancy nausea. I’ve been using it religiously for the last month or so and I can confidently say, paired with regular exercise, I think I have finally found the right combination to keep these symptoms at bay.

Sasha Exeter - Forté Elements
Photo by Bettina Bogar

I know that there are endless options on the market for prenatal supplement care but this brand is a pioneer in the development of condition-specfic combinations of vitamins, minerals and essential trace elements, Forté Elements has completely defined a new category of mediceuticalss based on evidence based research. Not a term your probably used to hearing, mediceuticals are nutrient supplements using combos of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients for things like pregnancy and the postpartum period, that unlike nutraceuticals, are subject to very strict guidelines for quality/safety and are supported by evidence based research. Meaning, you can be assured that Forté Elements Prenatal+ and other pregnancy supplements contain the appropriate amounts of the nutrients pre-pregnant and pregnant women need to help support their growing babies.

Sasha Exeter - Forté Elements

Forte Elements actually has a wide array of nutritional supplements outside of their prenatal category covering joint care, pre and post operative, trauma care, in addition to nerve, brain, bone health. To discover and learn more, head to ForteElements.com.

Why You Should Start Your Day With A Little OJ!

Remember that old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well for years apples got all the spotlight but it turns out, oranges are really the stand-out star or at least they should be. And when I’m on the go, sometimes a glass of Florida Orange Juice is the easiest and quickest way to get my daily dose of vitamin C. What many don’t realize, it’s also jam packed with tons of other beneficial nutrients.

Sasha Exeter - Florida Department of Orange Juice

Sasha Exeter - FDOJ

I’ve always been a fan of good ole’ OJ…it’s long been my juice of choice because of it’s naturally refreshing and sweet taste obvi and truth be told, mixed with some champers it quickly becomes my fave brunch bevy on the weekends – pre pregnancy of course! When I started taking prenatal vitamins before I got pregnant, my doctor advised me to take my daily pill with a glass of Florida Orange Juice. Why? Prenatal vitamins can sometimes irritate and be tough on some women’s stomach due to the iron content and vitamin C helps aid in the digestion of the mineral. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Orange Juice, although an insanely amazing source of vitamins for all, is a very important part of a pregnant woman’s arsenal. I still find it a bit crazy how this change in my lifestyle has made me realize that my life is no longer about me anymore. The way I workout, how I eat, sleep and even my working hours now all revolve around what’s best for my little bean – who I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting just yet. Funny enough,  even the most simple things like adding a glass of Florida Orange Juice in the morning and another post workout can make a huge difference, ensuring that we both get other essential nutrients like folate – a vitamin essential to prevent neural tube defects in babies in the womb that is also important for the formation of collagen (an important component of gums, bones, and cartilage). But for those of you out there that are fitness enthusiasts giving cold press juice and protein shakes all the praises, Florida Orange Juice, similar to bananas, is also a great source of potassium, super important for muscle function and plays a role in helping the body maintain it’s pH balance and electrolytes, making it a great alternative to your go-to post workout hydration.

Don’t feel like you’re ever limited to just drinking OJ on it’s own. Because of it’s sweet taste, it can be the perfect addition to your favourite smoothies or cold pressed juices, adding just the right sweetness. Also, if you head to FloridaJuice.com, you will find a treasure trove of healthy snack and meal recipes that include Florida Orange Juice you can make at home – I’m going to be trying out these Oatmeal Orange Pancakes this weekend!

 Sasha Exeter - Florida Department of Orange Juice

Photography by JessBaumung.com

I created this blog post as a paid collaborator for Florida Department of Orange Juice. All opinions and advise are my own and I only work with companies I genuinely love and/or have used prior to being contacted. 

4 Things I Didn’t Expect During Pregnancy

Well, well, well…most of you that read my blog also follow me on social media so this will not be news to you but…we are expecting our first baby this summer. The official announcement was posted on my Instagram account exactly a month ago today and while most of you may have thought it was something I was itchy to share, it was quite the opposite. As this is not Rejean and I’s first pregnancy, we suffered a miscarriage last fall (ICYMI, you can read about it here) and were devastated. After the initial joy of discovering I was with child; panic, anxiety and fear immediately set in. I’m not so sure about Rej, but I was absolutely terrified history would repeat itself and I would end up with another non-viable pregnancy and I was unsure whether I could handle another disappointment . I knew even before taking the home test that I was pregnant but to be completely honest with you, I was in complete denial for the first two months until my naturopath confirmed that my HCG levels were soaring through the roof and that there was no mistaking the fact that there was a little bean inside me.

So what next…? After carrying for almost 12 weeks the last time around, I thought I had this first trimester thing figured out but apparently I knew nothing because EVERY SINGLE PREGNANCY IS DIFFERENT. While most women gloat about how amazing their pregnancy experience is, it is not all roses for everyone, trust me! The first four months for me were insanely difficult but thankfully I am starting to finally feel like a normal human being again with the occasional bout of nausea. We are safely in our second trimester and almost at the 20 week mark. I cannot believe how fast the time is going. As the anxiety starts to fade a bit day by day, it is replaced with more and more excitement…and can only hope that the rest of the pregnancy is smooth and stress free.

There’s so much shit that has thrown me for a loop during the first 18 weeks and because I am a control freak, I wish I could have anticipated them but that’s not real life. It’s impossible to foresee the pregnancy future and for one reason or another, a lot of women only stick to sharing the positive sides of their pregnancy. So on that note, I’ve decided to share some of the things I discovered on my own, that I wish SOMEBODY had told me.

DISRUPTED SLEEP CYCLES

Majority of women talk about suffering from severe exhaustion during their pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. I remember feeling like I was in a coma during my first pregnancy but this one has been a very different experience. Rather than wanting to sleep my days away, I was barely getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night during the first couple months. Pregnancy insomnia is definitely a thing and thankfully it’s not harmful to the baby however it can get rather annoying. I assumed that this issue would occur later into the pregnancy with the physical changes to my body making it more uncomfortable to sleep but these early onset sleep issues for me were caused by emotional changes, stress, anxiety and the need to urinate a few times a night.

I did figure out a few ways to help with getting more sleep in recent weeks because after this baby arrives, I don’t anticipate getting much sleep at all:

  1. Drink plenty of water during the day and minimize water intake after 7pm
  2. Eating to sleep works wonders. Eat a healthy dinner to avoid heart burn and just before bed have a late night snack, something high in protein to help keep blood sugar steady throughout the night
  3. Make your bed a comfortable cocoon to help induce your sleep once you climb between your sheets. Make sure to bolster or add a pillow underneath your feet, tuck a pillow between your knees and sleep on your side. Still struggling to get comfortable? Do not pass go or collect $200 – and purchase one of those full body pregnancy pillows. It will not disappoint – I swear by mine!
  4. Exercising during the day will give you the energy you need earlier on but help you feel tired later on so you can get rest at night
  5. When you’re carrying another human being your body temperature is elevated causing you to feel like you’re overheating at times. Feeling hot and sticky does not set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Consider adjusting the temperature in your home or closing a vent in your bedroom to create a cooler environment for sleep.

HAIR GROWTH/HAIR LOSS

Most pregnant women speak praises of hair growth during their pregnancy. Around week 20, it’s highly likely that your hair gets thicker, shinier and looks more healthy than normal, all credit to those lovely pregnant hormones – particularly estrogen. Not to mention the increased blood circulation and metabolism pumping mega nutrients to your hair and nails. Well turns out, everyone’s prenatal experience and every single pregnancy is quite different. I was thoroughly looking forward to the luscious locks of my dreams but I’ve ended up not having any hair gains at all and worse – suffering from prenatal hair loss. Sounds a bit weird I know and there may be several reasons why this occurred.

My natural hair back in August 2016. 

During my first pregnancy I experienced no change to my hair but last November, almost 30 days after my miscarriage, I started to notice a change to the texture of my hair, thickness and length. Initially nobody else seemed to notice the difference, not even my hairdresser who I see on a weekly basis. I am pretty sure at one point she thought I was absolutely nuts. By the end of December the changes were clearly noticeable and enough to not only make me worry but had me feeling a bit depressed. I know it sounds a bit shallow, but I took pride in my beautiful, natural hair that took what felt like a lifetime to grow to the length it was. I was almost certain that when I found out I was pregnant at the end of last year, my hair would start returning to it’s healthy or at least healthier state. Sadly, I have yet to see a difference, even with daily prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements and it appears that I am still shedding a considerable amount of hair on a daily basis. After playing web detective, which I’m not normally an advocate of, I discovered that hair loss during pregnancy can occur for a variety of reasons; with hormonal changes being one of the top culprits. Whenever the body experiences a drastic hormonal change, your normal hair growth cycle can be halted or disorganized causing excessive hair shedding or what is called Telogen Effluvium. Usually caused by dramatic emotional experiences during pregnancy also explains the state of my locks after the emotional distress I experienced after my miscarriage. Nearly half way through this pregnancy, I am going to have to wait for the condition to correction itself and to see any improvements until at least six months postpartum. In the meantime, here’s what I am doing to help reduce the hair loss during this time:

  • Eat fruits and veggies that contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may add some protection to the hair follicles and encourage hair growth
  • Avoid unnecessary stress to the hair by staying away from tight ponytails, weaves, and braids
  • Use ultra hydrating shampoos and conditioners that contain biotin and silica
  • Avoid excessive heat from flatirons, curling irons and blow dryers. as much as possible

MIGRAINE PAIN

Migraine headaches are like the lottery when it comes to pregnancy. If you suffered from migraines prior to being pregnant chances are there’s a high probability that you will experience stronger ones during – especially early on. However, there are a few lucky ducks who claim that their migraines actually diminish during pregnancy. I unfortunately have not been the exception but rather the rule when it comes to prenatal migraines and spent several weeks hemmed up due to crippling head pain, which caused me to be sensitive to noise, smells, food and even exacerbated nausea and vomiting symptoms. What’s the culprit for this annoying head pain? If you’ve guessed good ‘ole pregnancy hormones, you guessed right! Sadly, there’s not much you can for the pain during a prenatal migraine episode but on the upside, these pain cycles won’t last forever. Most healthcare providers consider acetaminophen (regular strength Tylenol) to be the only safe over-the-counter pain relief option throughout pregnancy but I strongly urge you to consult your treating physician prior to taking any. I personally didn’t have much success with Tylenol and had to resort to a few other tactics to help me with manage the pain:

  • Meditation and mindfulness techniques
  • Exercise (prior to full blown migraine)
  • Cold compress to the forehead and neck
  • Regular massage therapy
  • Warm epsom salt baths
  • Stretching; both preventative and during an episode
  • Increase water intake

NOT ALL PRE-NATAL VITAMINS ARE CREATED EQUAL

This one sort of threw me for a loop and I think that it is one of my most surprising discoveries throughout during this time. Our mothers and grandmothers may not have been popping prenatal vitamins, or even know what they are for that matter, but our generation sure as hell has been made aware that it’s a critical part of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. During the first pregnancy, although planned, we were not aware that I should have been popping this magic pills prior to conniving and that the most important period for brain and neural tube development occurs within the first four weeks of pregnancy. With our lifestyles, nutritional habits and the state of our food being so different than it was in previous generations, it’s imperative that women get the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals during (and even before conception) to prevent neural tube defects and support your little one’s growth and development. I actually never stopped taking mine between the two pregnancies.

Seeing as though the health care industry has deemed these supplements so important for pregnant women, one would expect that there be a set standard amount of each vitamin and nutrient found in each pill. I found out about a month into my current pregnancy that this is in fact not the case and immediately made changes to my prenatal vitamin, choosing one with DHA (omega 3 docosahexaenoic acid that benefits vision and brain development) and also added an additional 1 mg of folic acid. Even though folic is already in my prenatal supplement, I wanted to add some more, just to be on the safe side. There is no harm with taking a bit extra folic acid because whatever the body doesn’t need, it will flush out in your urine. Here’s the basics that you should have in your prenatal vitamin:

  • 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic acid (folate)
  • 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D.
  • 200 to 300 mg of calcium
  • 75 mg of vitamin C.
  • 3 mg of B1 (thiamine)
  • 3 mg of B2 (riboflavin)
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 10 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 10 mg of vitamin E.
  • 15 mg of zinc.
  • 20 mg of iron.
  • 150 mcg of iodine
  • 30 mg of biotin
  • 25 mg of magnesium
  • 150 mg of DHA

Pregnancy has turned out to be nothing but surprises so far and I’m sure this is just the beginning. Looking forward to sharing all the good, bad and the ugly with you all over the next several months until our little bean arrives.

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: