Growing a tiny human, feeding a tiny human, and raising a tiny human. 3 of the most important jobs that I can think of. Yet somehow it seems that nutrition along with supplementation during these times can be more of an after-thought in society when arguable nutritional should be on point in all aspects during this crucial period of development.
I think we often look to supplementation for things like weight loss or fitness goals or for the obvious things like Vitamin D or B12. But if you aren’t eating a balanced diet with 5+ (more like 7-10) servings of fruits and vegetables per day then you could be missing out of key nutrients which isn’t good for any adult, let alone Mom or baby.
When it comes to making, growing, and feeding our children it’s about more than just a prenatal. I wanted to shed some light on this topic and share information on the supplements that I used while pregnant and nursing, and the supplements that I give to my babies every day!
If you follow along with me on Instagram you probably know that I have 3 beautiful babies, Enzo our son and twin girls Francesa and Isabella. I found out I was pregnant with the twins when Enzo was 6 months old! Yup, I was basically pregnant for 2 years straight. That will do a number on the body.
Fitness and nutrition are a huge part of my life thanks to my husband, Sal. He is a part owner in a supplement company called 1stPhorm so I’m sure you can believe that diet and exercise mean a lot to us. On top of that I am an aesthetic nurse so health & beauty as a whole really are a norm in my household.
Supplementation During Pregnancy
When I was pregnant with Enzo I was taking the basic prenatal provided by my OBGYN but Sal was convinced there was something better. He devoted hours to research and formulated the perfect prenatal vitamin with compounds we can actually absorb into our bloodstream, and all of the things Mom and baby ACTUALLY need! This is a product that 1stPhorm now sells internationally and has been ever since Sal was motivated by our pregnancy to create it. What a Dad, right?! Unfortunately prenatals from an OBGYN are designed to be cheap and cost efficient. Of course insurance isn’t going to provide the best of the best out of their pocket. Don’t get me wrong, these prenatals have the right ingredients, with the main requirement being folic acid to eliminate the risk of neural tube defects but, a pregnant woman needs so much more!
Additionally a pressed tablet is hard for the body to absorb and as a newly pregnant mom that is supplying for two that is not what I wanted. I can vividly remember Sal telling me on the way home that he didn’t like the vitamin that they recommended and he was going to make one specifically for me and Enzo (perk of the husband). Since then, 1stPhorm has a package called the Joy Bundle which includes their Prenatal Plus and Full-Mega, this set didn’t exist when I was pregnant with Enzo but I took it religiously with the twins. The Prenatal plus is encapsulated in an all vegan cap and has a 100% Daily Value of the B-Vitamins, minerals, Vitamin E, A, C and D and obviously folic acid plus a ton of other good stuff. It really is a powerhouse vitamin for pregnant females. Plus they put in a bit of ginger powder to help with digestion and nausea since prenatals can often cause an upset stomach (truly made with the pregnant Mama in mind!).
During pregnancy, nursing, and day to day I also take Opti Greens 50. To this day, this is one that I truly cannot go a day without taking. Opti-Greens 50 are a concentrated veggie powder made from real fruits and vegetables that is going to provide an additional vitamin and mineral boost for anyone taking it. Plus the blend is great for bloat and motility, another few areas which pregnant mommas may struggle with.
It’s important we have a balance of Omega-3 fats and Omega-6 fats in our diet. It’s pretty easy to get our omega-6 because they are found in vegetable oil which is in a ton of products. However omega-3s are a bit harder to come by (found mostly in fish, walnuts, and canola oil) so it’s usually recommended to supplement with a fish oil during pregnancy.
Based on my research I learned that the reason me need Omega-3s is for two important compounds, EPA and DHA which contribute to baby brain development and brain health, as well as hormone function. The higher the concentration of EPA/DHA the more expensive the supplement will likely be. Don’t cheap out on your fish oil! You could be buying something that is basically a little bit of fish oil mixed with a carrier oil and by ‘saving money’ you’re not getting the benefits you think you’re signing up for. I take 1stPhorms Full-Mega, which, you guessed it, is a high quality fish oil which has a very high EPA and DHA.
And the last supplement I include is PHORMULA-1 and Level-1 protein powders. The difference between the two is that Level-1 is a sustainable assimilation protein (sounds intense I know) but basically it just means it’s designed to mimic the digestion of whole foods and can be used any time of day like in a morning smoothie etc. Phormula 1 is designed to be used immediately following a workout because its designed to be fast digesting. Both are great! Sometimes I just go by flavor ;). So generally we’d have Phormula-1 after a workout when we want the immediate benefits of the protein for recovery, and Level-1 for breakfast shakes and or snacks shakes throughout the day.
Supplementation During Nursing
My nursing supplement routine looked very similar to pregnancy! I continued with the
At the end of the day I ate the best that I could during pregnancy and nursing. Reminding myself that what I eat is what is growing my babies helped me to combat cravings on many days. At the same time it’s still important to have treats in order to keep mental sanity! Keep in mind that ‘eating for two’ is generally taken out of context and all we really need is a 300 calorie increase per day on average!
Can I Have Coffee During Pregnancy or Nursing?
It is loosely recommended to avoid stimulants during pregnancy. There is no hard and fast rule because different people have different caffeine tolerances. Some studies have shown that a high caffeine intake during pregnancy can lead to low birth weights and premature labor. This definitely means no fat burners or pre-workout as these are concentrated caffeine sources are for me it wasn’t worth the risk. For those who already drink coffee, coffee is generally okay as long as you aren’t experiencing a racing heart, hot flashes or heart burn. Again, I’m not an OBGYN so talk to yours! I cut coffee curing my first trimester and then stuck with 1 cup a day throughout semesters 2 and 3 (and 4 – nursing).
Supplementation for the Kids
I think a big question is, “do kids really need supplements?”. Shouldn’t their little healthy bodies be able to thrive all on their own? My answer is yes..and no. It’s no secret that getting kids to eat a healthy, balanced diet can be a challenge, sometimes one that ends in temper tantrums and tears. But at the same time these years of development and so important for long term health and if a child isn’t developing strong bones, joints, teeth, organs and immune system they truly can be affected for the rest of their life.
I know we both want the best for our child(ren) and a simple way to help them get a great start to growing up into a fine young man or woman is by helping to fulfill their essential nutrient needs every day. Children should be eating a minimum of 1 cup of vegetables per day, 1 cup of fruit, a few ounces of whole grains, a few ounces of meat and multiple cups of dairy. See food pyramid here and a USDA resource here. Suddenly that pasta with cheese sauce, a few apple slices and a cookie isn’t standing up. I know, sometimes it takes all of our energy just to get them to eat anything at all, which is why supplementation comes into play. It IS hard to get my 2 and 3 years olds to eat an entire cup of vegetables in a day, they don’t like steamed green beans that much and tbh neither do I! Knowing that my kids are getting essential nutrients crucial for their development thanks to supplementation is a big relief. Everyday we use the 1stPhorm Kiddo Daily Stack which is comprised of 2 supplements, the M-Factor vitamin gummies and the Opti-Kids chocolate powder. These products can also be purchased separately! Let me break it down:
These multi-vitamin gummies promote healthy immune system function by providing vitamins A, C, D E & zinc. Vitamin D contributes to strong teeth and bone development. A, C, E, biotin and zinc for skin, nails, eyes, etc. This vitamin also has vitamins B-6, B-12, choline, inositol and folate to promote brain development and function! It’s made with full-body needs in mind.
The gummies comes in strawberry or mixed berry, and has no artificial dyes, colors or flavors. It’s formulated to give you the peace of mind that no matter how chaotic the day gets, what snacks they are given at school or from the sitter, they have a solid foundation of nutrients everyday.
Opti-kids, similar to Opti-Greens 50, is a concentrated vegetable powder (plus more!). We want our kids to be healthy, but let’s be real, the daily debate with them to eat their fruits and vegetables gets old. The product is made from real fruits, vegetables, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and all organic grasses. Plus, it tastes good! The powder is amped up with 6g of Low Temperature Processed Whey Protein to help provide the necessary building blocks (amino acids) for their growing bodies. We know protein is an important macronutrient and we don’t want it to be displaced with carbs which can sometimes be the case thanks to how tasty bread, pasta and granola bars are to our picky little ones.
One of my favorite ingredients in the Opti-Kids is the probiotic. Probiotics are so important, especially if your child(ren) has ever had to do a round of antibiotics in their lifetime whether it was for an ear infection or throat etc. Getting their gut bacteria restored is so important to a lifetime of health and building their immune system. Plus probiotics support good digestion which means they help to actually absorb all the nutrients passing through the gut.
Right now Opti-Kids has one flavor, a delicious chocolate milk taste your kids will love and can easily be mixed with water or milk! Because the blend provides protein and carbohydrates I don’t feel the need to blend it with a banana or anything especially because my kids are still so little, I’d rather them enjoy the whole drink and not get full before they finish it.
At the end of the day of COURSE I’m promoting 1stPhorm, not because it’s my husbands company but because these products were made with me and my children’s bodies in mind. A HUGE responsibility that I know they don’t take lightly. It’s been an honor watching them develop these products over the last few years and now being able to enjoy them with my family on a daily basis. The quality of 1stPhorm is bar none and I would recommend these products to everyone!
As always check in with your OBGYN, GP or Pediatrician before making any changes to diet or supplementation during these sensitive stages of development; nursing, pregnancy and childhood and adolescent years.