Supplements and Herbs That I’m Using This Pregnancy

Posted on January 15, 2010. Filed under: Supplements and Herbs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

These are the supplements and herbs I am using in my pregnancy.

Organic Prenatal Vitamins: I am not big on commercially processed anything so of course that includes prenatal vitamins. They are full of synthetic vitamins with limited bioavailability and lots of artificial color and preservatives. My OB doesn’t like them either and actually said that if a woman had to choose between commercially processed and nothing to take nothing (but to eat really well). I love his holistic view. He searched high and low for a quality organic vitamin to recommend to his patients and ended up with Douglas Lab Ultrapreventive II. It is not formulated as a prenatal but it ranks as the 2nd best vitamin produced and scores 95.4% as determined by The Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements.  There were 510 vitamins used in this study and each of the criteria used were based on scientific evidence found in the latest literature.  The rankings were based on 14 criteria that include completeness, potency, bioavailability, metabolic support and more. To review the complete list and study go HERE.  The more well known the vitamin, the worse they tended to score. Centrum, for instance had a score of only 4.7% and ranked 442 out of 510. I didn’t see any prenatals on the list as I scanned it but like I said, it had 510 vitamins so it’s a long list. I doubt any of the synthetic prenatals would have faired any better than the rest of the synthetic vitamins. All that said, it is still better to get the vitamins and minerals from the source, it’s better assimilated by the body (and really, even though organic vitamins are better they are still processed and very expensive). I am taking only 1 pill a day. Douglas Labs recommend four and my doc recommends two. I don’t think I need two or four as I am using other herbs and supplements and will get my nutritional needs met there and with my diet.

Fish Oil: I am taking one fish oil capsule. It is also organic courtesy of Dr. Chung. It’s been suggested that fish oil  has very high significance in preventing the pregnancy complications like premature delivery and low birth weight. The consumption of fish oil during pregnancy reduce allergy in the newborns, help in development of brain and reduce risk of post partum depression. There doesn’t seem to be any risks in taking it so bring it on, I say.

RRLT: Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. Raspberry leaf contains high concentrations of fragarine and flavonoids, which are believed to strengthen, tone and relax the uterine and pelvic muscles. In addition it is high in vitamin C, contains many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Overall, drinking it is good for your body. Of course, Kegels will also tone your pelvic muscles too so do them also!  Studies have found two very important things about drinking RRLT. First, there were no side effects noted in women taking moderate amounts of red raspberry leaf in the third trimester. Secondly, women who drank red raspberry leaf were less likely to require a cesarean or forceps during labor. The American Pregnancy Association says:

Red Raspberry Leaf (Likely Safe) – Rich in iron, this herb has helped tone the uterus, increase milk production, decrease nausea, and ease labor pains.  Many of the “Pregnancy Teas” commonly contain red raspberry leaf to help promote uterine health during pregnancy.
There is some controversy about whether this should be used throughout pregnancy or just in the second and third trimester, so many health care providers remain cautious and only recommend using it after the first trimester

Nettle Leaf: Nettle leaves are a storehouse of nutrition, with high iron and calcium contents, as well as an excellent source of folic acid, an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Nettle strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, while it relieves fluid retention. Because nettle also supports the vascular system, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Postpartum, it increases breast milk. Nettle tea has a rich, green taste and can be mixed with other herbs. The APA says:

Nettles (Stinging Nettles) -(Likely Unsafe-see note ) High in vitamins A, C, K, calcium, potassium and iron. Used in many “Pregnancy Teas” because it is a great all-around pregnancy tonic. (*Note on the safety of nettles: Natural Medicines Database gives nettles a rating of Likely Unsafe, even though it is used in countless pregnancy teas and recommended by most midwives and herbalists. This may be in relation to which part of the nettles plant is used, the root or the leaves, and how much is used. According to other sources, the use of nettles is encouraged during pregnancy because of all its health benefits.2)

Even with a “Likely Unsafe” rating given by the FDA, I am very ok with this one. It is widely used and I am using the leaves not the roots. I am also using it in moderation.

Alfalfa: with its deep root system, contains many essential nutrients including trace minerals, chlorophyll and vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for blood clotting. Many midwives advise drinking mild tasting alfalfa tea or taking alfalfa tablets during the last trimester of pregnancy to decrease postpartum bleeding or chance of hemorrhaging. Alfalfa also increases breast milk, as alfalfa hay is fed daily to milking goats and other dairy animals. The APA lists it as possibly unsafe because those with heart conditions should not use it. I have read that chlorophyll is very good for strengthening scars so great for VBACs.

Rosehips: Very good source of Vitamin C and helps boost the immune system. Especially important for VBACing as Vit C will help build tissues and strengthen scars.

I will use the alfalfa, rosehips, nettles and RRLT to make an infusion. I will probably drink it on ice with honey since my 3rd trimester will be in the late spring and (VERY HOT KOREAN) summer.

I am also eating a very high protein diet, 80 to 100 g per day to strengthen my uterus.

My doc recommends an organic iron supplement starting at 25 weeks but with my prenatal, nettles tea, RRLT and balanced diet, I do not anticipate needing it.

Good nutrition is important for every pregnant woman. It is essential for the VBACing woman. There are women who have gone in for repeat cesarean after a failed VBAC attempt after proper nutrition and the docs were barely able to make out their first scar. I want to do everything I can to give my body the best shot possible and nutrition is something I have direct control over. Luckily, I have a holistic minded OB who supports my ideas and I am appreciative.

There are herbs that should not be used when pregnant. Please be sure to do your homework before using anything.

So this is what I’m doing, what are YOU doing?

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21 Responses to “Supplements and Herbs That I’m Using This Pregnancy”

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Very interesting article, and fun to read.
The information provided by you is very good,Keep going Thank you.


I feel pretty strongly about taking a PNV – or at least a folic acid supplement – for anyone who could possibly get pregnant. Let’s face it – most of us do not consume the right nutrients to avoid taking a supplement (but I’m very proud of those who do!) I am taking a PNV, fish oil, DHA / folic acid supplement 3 times a week, and vitamin C to strengthen my scar. I plan to start RRLT this month (I have 4 months to go). I will probably add alfalfa and nettle leaf as you recommended and “infuse” it all in my Korean bori-cha kettle.

P.S. The reason I feel strongly about the vitamin or folic acid supplement is to avoid neural tube defects, which can happen due to a lack of proper nutrition – before we usually realize we are pregnant. I would just be cautious about making it seem optional since most people I know do not eat a diet high in folic acid. 🙂

Folic acid is important-the month before thru the first trimester of pregnancy for NTDs. It really doesn’t do anything for you after that and unfortunately most women miss the boat on the most important time to take it. One study has shown that taking it in the second trimester can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, so that’s good for those with predispositions for PE or other related issues. There is a cap on the recommended amount of synthetic (as in what you find in prenatals) folic acid as the toxicity levels are unknown. And when I post what I am doing, it is only to share what I am doing, not to make recommendations for or against what others should be doing so there will be no making anything seem optional or not, that’s up to each person to decide for themselves 🙂

And I too will be infusing in my bori-cha kettle!

Also, here’s a list of foods with folic acid…

Fortified breakfast cereals (look on the label to see if the cereal has been fortified with folic acid)
Black beans
Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)
Orange juice (from concentrate is best)
Enriched breads and pasta
Romaine lettuce

Also, nettle leaf tea is an excellent source of folic acid.

In my opinion, synthetic forms are not necessary, including PNVs, if you are consciously obtaining these nutrients from natural sources, especially since it is better assimilated by the body that way.

Awesome info on the foods – I eat quite a few of those regularly (especially spinach, peanuts, and black beans). 🙂 Good point on the importance of getting folic acid before getting pregnant – that’s essentially the point I was trying to make, just not as eloquently. I’ve heard that when you’re pregnant, the baby basically “sucks” the nutrients from you whether you’re taking vitamins or eating well or not (so it’s important to do so) – when breastfeeding, however, you have to get the extra calories and vitamins. Wonder if that’s true?

That is unfortunately a common pregnancy misconception. It’s actually quite the opposite. You can’t grow a baby from the fat on your hips, but you can breastfeed one from it. You need the calories and nutrients to grow the baby, you need the food. This is what Brewer’s preaches. Babies can’t ‘suck’ from you what you aren’t putting in. Breastfeeding, on the other hand, does pull from your fat stores and can be done even if you aren’t eating much. Studies have found that only severely malnourished mothers have issues with milk production or milk quality while mothers who are considered malnourished and underfed make plenty of good quality milk regardless. My reference for the breastfeeding is out of La Leche League’s the Breastfeeding Answer Book and the food part is based off of everything I know about prenatal nutrition based on Brewer’s.

Another thing worth noting is that because a lot of women do make the assumption that you can grow a baby off of what you already have, their diets are inadequate and that is very obvious considering the very high rates or PE, Gestational Diabetes, low birth weights and prematurity that we have in the US. We have some of the highest rates of all four of those in the industrialized world. All of those issues, for most women, can be controlled by diet, meaning adequate, quality intake.

Well, that shows you why Oklahoma ranks worst in just about everything… :p I suddenly remembered a phase (unfortunately) when I was young when my mom bought organic vitamins and talked about how important it was not only the type of vitamins you eat, but when and what you eat them with for maximum absorption. Interesting I had forgotten about that until now. I know food is still a much better source!

Hi Amy,

I am the webmaster of

I came across your blog today and saw saw this great article. I noticed that you have placed a link to an old copy of my Multivitamin Guide report.

It appears in the first paragraph and the exact sentence is: “To review the complete list and study go HERE.“

Can you please update the link so that it points directly to my website which always has the latest information.

Thank you very much for your help. Great blog.

Best regards,

[…] Nettle is particularly rich in micronutrients like carotene, vitamin C, manganese, iron, calcium, zinc and chromium.  As the mother passes anything she consumes to her baby both during pregnancy and breastfeeding, nettle will not only nourish her body, but also her growing baby.  After birth, nettle is thought to promote an abundant milk supply (source). […]

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