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Taking supplements during pregnancy

09 February 2017 Blog
There are numerous brands of dietary supplements available to women during pregnancy, midwife Felicity Kostera outlines some of the things you need to consider when choosing a supplement.

We suggest improving your nutritional intake of folic acid and iodine prior to, and during pregnancy   through diet or in conjunction with nutritional supplements.

Many of the supplements sold by pharmacies vary in price and nutritional benefits. They often contain micronutrients that compete for absorption within the body, meaning you are not actually getting the benefits you might expect.

Research confirms taking folic acid during the pre-conception period and in particular, the first trimester of pregnancy, can decrease the risks of neural tube defects by up to 70%. 

Iodine is also an essential micronutrient required for your thyroid function and your baby’s brain development.

It is better to choose a folic acid and iodine dietary supplement rather than pregnancy multivitamins. 

While many of the latter do contain folic acid and iodine, they also contain numerous other macronutrients that may not be necessary and could decrease the absorption of other, more beneficial nutrients. 

Many multivitamins have also been found not to contain the amounts of folic acid and iodine recommended during preconception and early pregnancy. 

The recommended daily intake of folic acid and iodine during pregnancy is 0.4mg daily of folic acid prior to conception and in the first trimester, and 150mcg of iodine daily throughout pregnancy. 

Always check the label to ensure the supplement has the required levels of folic acid and iodine, or ask your pharmacist for advice. 

Iron is also important during pregnancy for both you and your baby’s wellbeing. 

Your obstetrician or midwife will monitor your iron levels during your pregnancy and advise you if you need to start taking dietary supplements. 

If you have any questions about supplementation and your diet during pregnancy please speak with your obstetrician or midwife.

More information:

Australian Journal of Pharmacy - Folic acid & Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy 

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Felicity Kostera - Midwife

Felicity Kostera is a third-generation midwife who loves being able to support, educate and empower women during one of the most amazing times of their lives. She works at St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital, is involved in the hospital’s parent education program and teaches at Curtin University.