Importance of Folic Acid During Pregnancy

folic acidThe second you get pregnant, the first question your doctor will ask you is “when was your last period” and then he/she will ask you, “are you taking prenatal vitamins”? Hopefully you will have the right answer to both! Prenatal vitamins have the essential vitamins your body needs while pregnant, and most importantly, they contain folic acid. It has been shown that adequate levels of folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects in your unborn fetus. The good news is, folate (the natural version of folic acid) is found in a lot of foods we eat such as green leafy vegetables, oranges, legumes and beef liver. The bad new is that the amount of folate absorbed by your body is not always enough. Fortunately, supplemental forms (aka vitamins) of folic acid are well absorbed and vastly available.
There are hundreds of prenatal vitamin brands out there and thankfully in addition to pill form, they can now be found as liquid or gummy. Yes, I will admit, I am one of those peps that even at the age of 30, still chokes on pills so I opt for anything in gummy form. No one brand is superior than the other as long as it has the appropriate amount of folic acid you need. Here are some guidelines to go by:
1. Most of you will fall into this category: For primary prevention in low risk pregnancy, you need 0.4 mg (or 400mcg) daily. It is recommended that you start supplementation one month prior to pregnancy, or as soon as you find out you are pregnant.
2. For women with a child previous affected with a neural tube defect, it is suggested to have 4mg per day, and beginning supplementation one month prior to getting pregnant and continuing through at least the first trimester.
3. For women with pregestational diabetes (that is diabetes diagnosed prior to becoming pregnant, or women taking valproate or carbamazapine, should take 4mg of folic acid daily starting one month prior to conception and continuing through at least the first trimester of pregnancy.
*Please do not use this supplement or any other supplements if you have ever experienced an allergic reaction after previously taking them.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Perfect posting just in time for the holiday season!!! With all the yummy holiday treats…even if you are not pregnant you are at risk of gaining too much weight! First and foremost, remember being pregnant DOES NOT mean you are eating for two! During your first trimester (first three months of pregnancy) you do not even need to increase your daily calorie intake. Starting your second trimester, you should increase your intake by 200-300 more calories per day. This is equivalent to a bagel with no cream cheese or a piece of fruit and granola bar…it’s really not as much as your think! But do not stress if one day you feel like you overate. Some women feel a lot more hungry while pregnant and as long as you are spacing your meals out and your weight gain is gradual, its OK. Like everything else in pregnancy, calorie intake and weight gain is person dependent. If you have nausea and vomiting and the only thing that looks good is pizza, by all means eat it! But on the other hand, if you feel like you can eat the world, try to control the portions you have and opt for the healthier food choices. Just remember moderation and the most important thing…stay hydrated.
Weight gain in pregnancy is generally gauged based on your BMI (body mass index) which is calculated based on your height and weight. In a nutshell, here are some guidelines to go by (don’t forget, these are just recommended guidelines. Please confirm your personal situation with your own doctor).

  • If your pre-pregnancy weight is normal, that is  a BMI of 18.5-24.9, it is recommended you gain between 25-35 pounds.
  • If you are underweight prior to getting pregnant, that is a BMI of less than 18.5, you get to gain a little more weight during your pregnancy. Gain anywhere between 28-40 pounds
  • If you begin your pregnancy overweight, with a BMI of 25-29, should limit your weight gain to between 15-25 pounds
  • If you are obese pre-pregnancy, with a BMI of 30 or more, you should limit your weight gain to about 11-20 pounds.
  • Do not aim to ever lose weight during pregnancy.

Just in case you were wondering…where does the weight gain go???

  • By the end of your pregnancy, about 7-8 account for the baby
  • About 1.5 pounds of placenta
  • 3 to 4 pounds goes to increased fluid volume.
  • Your uterus will be about 2 pounds
  • 1-3 pounds goes to growing breast tissue
  • 3- 4 pounds for increased blood volume.
  • 2 pounds for your amniotic fluid
  • 6-8 pounds goes to maternal fat stores

What are your pregnancy cravings and healthy (or unhealthy ;-)) snack picks?!?!?

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