Pregnancy is a very natural process but does present some unique challenges. One of the most frequently asked questions is about whether a woman should take supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is an excellent question and warrants a good answer.
First, what is a supplement? The U.S. Federal Government defines a supplement as: it is intended to supplement the diet; contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and other substances) or their constituents; is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid; and is labeled on the front panel as being a dietary supplement. Nice definition but not that helpful as most of your already know what you call a supplement.
Women are discouraged from taking dietary supplements for many reasons. The first is that the production and packaging is not currently regulated by anybody. Nobody guarantees that the raw ingredients are of consistent quality. Nobody guarantees that the raw ingredients are free of contaminants. Nobody guarantees that the herbs or ingredients listed on the label are actually in the capsule or tablet. Look for labels that state they use GMP or Good Manufacturing Practices.
These concerns about quality is the reason we carry professional-grade supplements at OVitaminPro. We want to know that we getting what the label says we are getting and not exposed to anything we didn't want in the supplement.
One doctor I know who specializes in treating Parkinson's Disease was about to quit as much of his treatment depends on supplements. He used to tell people to go pick up a B12 supplement, for example and then when his patients would go find the cheapest B12 they could find and they would fail to respond to treatment. He was real discouraged because his results were so inconsistent. Then he realized that he had to control the supplements his patients were getting and insist on top of the line products that were actually quality controlled, not by law but by the conscience of the company owner.
Prenatal vitamins are often prescribed but keep in mind that fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K in large doses have been known to cause birth defects in animal studies. So a good quality prenatal supplement (won't be cheap) is certainly recommended as the fat soluble doses will be limited to GRAS levels (general regarded as safe).
When it comes to herbs and herbal combinations, the actual supplement possibilities are endless and virtually none of the supplement herbs and certainly combinations have not been tested in human trials so we really don't know anything about the effects on the developing little person. So when you take herbs, you might feel better but you are rolling the dice with your little one.
Caffeine, I would imagine, is the most commonly used drug in our culture. Caffeine crosses the placenta so your baby gets a good jolt too. This applies to breast feeding too. If you wonder how big of deal this might be since so many babies have been exposed to caffeine over the last few hundred years, some documentation exists that indicates that placental blood flow decreases measurably with the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee. Products that contain caffeine are: guarana, yerba mate, kola or kola nut, cocoa, tea, coffee or coffee beans, and citrus aurantium or bitter orange.
You have no doubt read up on alcohol and pregnancy. I have seen fetal alcohol syndrome and it is not a pretty sight. If you need more encouragement to stop or severely limit alcohol, you should search images of fetal alcohol syndrome babies.
Since you are working hard to provide the best chemical and emotional environment for your baby, please consider searching out organic foods and free range, non-GMO products. I know some sources say GMO foods are OK and on the face of it that may be true but often the reason for making a GMO product in the first place is so more herbicides and pesticides can be used without harming the plant. So your chances of getting exposed to more harmful chemicals is the real issue here.