I’m a Nutritionist and a Mama, This is the Prenatal Plan I Use and Recommend
As a nutritionist, people often ask me about my personal habits as a way to understand what I might recommend for them – what brands I like, what foods I eat, and what habits I have. It’s all for good reason, there is a ton of nutrition information out there and the overload can be overwhelming.
But it’s part of my passion and part of my profession to sort through it all - to research and evaluate what’s best for me and for those I work with.
So once I started planning for pregnancy myself and my nutrition business focus shifted primarily to women in similar stages, prenatal supplements were top of mind.
Now, I should mention that I generally take a food first approach to nutrition. A balanced diet full of fresh, whole foods is key to optimal health, and no supplement routine will offset a poor diet in the long term. However, when it comes to pregnancy and postpartum, I do believe that supplements are needed for optimal health for both mama and baby.
Why? Because nutrient needs are elevated and a variety of factors can make eating in a way that provides the nutrients you need extremely difficult. Case in point: I’m a total nutrition nerd and work hard to eat well, but there was absolutely no way I was about to eat a salmon salad at the height of my first trimester nausea, no matter how aware I was that DHA in salmon and folate in greens was good for me and my baby.
So with that in mind, the most common question I get is: “what prenatal did you use?” Like Needed founders, Ryan and Julie, I took Seeking Health Prenatal. Based on my research of nutrients needed in optimal forms and doses, Seeking Health Prenatal was as close to what I wanted as I could find. That said, it still left gaps in what I knew was needed, and so I supplemented further with foods and targeted support, like tons of eggs for Choline, salmon when I could stomach it (and a high quality fish oil for DHA when I couldn’t), and a probiotic. I also added in some extra Magnesium to support sleep, relaxation, and constipation, and Vitamin D for immunity. During the First Trimester, I also added Vitamin B6 for nausea. I stuck to this routine from before we started trying to over 2 years postpartum as my son nursed for 22 months.
It’s worth noting that I got a bit lazy about the added Vitamin D supplementation after about a year once my son started breastfeeding less often. Lab work at two years postpartum showed that my levels had fallen, despite remaining on the Seeking Health prenatal. Clearly, the 2,000 IU included was not sufficient!
We’re now planning for a second kid, and so I had some labs run to evaluate my current state of health and I considered how to change up my supplements routine to make sure I’m meeting all my needs.
The bottom line: I’m making the switch from Seeking Health Prenatal to Needed. Here’s why.
Needed is the most complete prenatal available. It has optimal levels of the the most absorbable forms of nutrients that mamas need before, during, and after pregnancy. In my first pregnancy, there wasn’t one option that had it all, so I pieced together my own plan to supplement the Seeking Health Prenatal.
The Needed Complete Plan, which includes the Prenatal, Collagen Protein, Omega-3 powder, and Pre/Probiotic is truly the most comprehensive prenatal nutrition supplement plan available. The Prenatal itself is flexible in order to leave space for additional nutrients from your diet. For example, it has the full recommended 550mg of Choline, but with research suggesting that more is perfectly safe, and maybe even optimal, it allows space for Choline-rich foods like eggs, liver, and cruciferous vegetables in your diet. It’s also careful to be safe in dosing. For example, it leaves out Iron as excessive supplemental doses can generate oxidative stress and alter the gut microbiome. Many mamas don’t need to supplement with Iron throughout their entire pregnancy, and can simply add in a supplement as needed. (Note: you can always get your levels tested, but it’s wise to keep an eye out for signs of deficiency like cold extremities, dizziness, headaches, extreme fatigue, and cravings for non-food items like ice or dirt.)
Many other prenatals, Seeking Health included, also have added herbs. While these can sometimes be supportive at different stages of pregnancy (like ginger for nausea), I prefer to take them separately as needed, rather than daily no matter what. Instead of added herbs, Needed adds an antioxidant boost in the Prenatal. Antioxidants have been shown to have tremendous benefit in women in all stages of mamahood (from preconception to postpartum), and with fresh food sometimes hard to stomach (I’m looking at you again, First Trimester) the extra support is appreciated!
The rest of the products in the Complete Plan complement the Prenatal perfectly. DHA is critical for brain health, probiotics are critical for gut health, and collagen is the perfect protein for the unique needs of a mama. I added these items into my routine previously, but it’s convenient to have them all together and comforting to know that they were each thoughtfully developed specifically for this phase of life. In other words, I trust the quality and appreciate the convenience.
It’s easy to take
One of the toughest things I faced with the Seeking Health Prenatal was its form. It requires that you take 8 pills for a complete dose, and suggests that you take them spread throughout the day. It’s a lot of pills for anyone, but especially someone experiencing nausea. It can also be hard to remember to take it multiple times throughout the day. This is the most common objection that most mamas have when I recommend it.
They do have a chewable and protein powder option, but they both have a taste that can be difficult to handle, and their protein powder contains other ingredients that I tend to avoid, like cellulose gum and cane sugar. The base is a pea protein isolate, which can be hard to digest, and plant proteins often contain potentially unsafe levels of heavy metals. It’s also worth noting that Seeking Health Prenatal includes sunflower oil, which I try to avoid as seed oils are generally inflammatory. While you’ll see sunflower oil on Needed’s Prenatal label, it’s there as it is included in tiny amounts in some of the other ingredients, but the overall amount is miniscule - less than 0.2% of the product.
Needed’s Prenatal comes in powder form and can be easily added to your smoothie, oatmeal, nut milk, or even just plain water. It has a mild and pleasant taste derived from clean ingredients (natural vanilla flavor and a tiny bit of pure monk fruit). It’s easy for you to take, and easy for your body to digest and use.
It’s rooted in research and passion
The founders of Needed are mamas and mamas-to-be themselves. They saw a problem:
No prenatal offers everything you need from preconception to postpartum.
And then went all-in on solving it.
They didn’t start with an idea of what should be in it, they started with a blank slate and challenged the status quo. They didn’t just consider outdated RDAs or industry standards when looking at doses, they dug into current research on optimal doses.
Every single ingredient form and amount is thoughtful and intentional, and was considered among a team of professional practitioners and research partners.
You can trust that the Needed team has done the research to develop a plan that includes what you need so that you don’t have to.
Because you’ve got other things to worry about, don’t you, mama?
Hillary Bennetts is a nutritionist and business consultant focusing on prenatal and postpartum health. In addition to nutrition consulting she provides business consulting and content creation for companies in the health and wellness industry. Hillary spent almost a decade in corporate consulting before shifting gears to combine her lifelong passion for health and wellness with her business background and nutrition education.
Hillary holds a Bachelors in Economics from Washington and Jefferson College, an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and is certified as a Holistic Nutritionist through Bauman College. She lives in Colorado with her husband and toddler son.
Website - www.hillarybennetts.com
Instagram - @hillarybennetts
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