30 Weeks: Healthy Living While Pregnant

June 26, 2012

For the most part, healthy living now is not that much different than before. I’m still staying active for about an hour a day, and I’m still eating a variety of real foods in the form of 3 meals and a snack or two everyday. And one other positive for my health: fewer hangovers ; ) I luckily haven’t had major cravings that send Matt running for Ben & Jerry’s at midnight or put chocolate cake on my plate for breakfast. Real Food still makes me feel best, inside and out.

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But both my exercise and my eating have changed somewhat:

-My workout intensity is drastically different than before: I am rarely out of breath or covered in sweat now – something I used to aim for daily

-My diet doesn’t look exactly the same since vegetables just don’t taste as good

The other day I was trying to put into words to Matt why I just don’t want to run or eat tons of vegetables even though I could force myself to do both. And what it comes down to is this: high intensity exercise and huge salads just don’t make me FEEL as good as they used to.

Before pregnancy, there was nothing like a sweaty run followed by a Hugh Jass salad filled with all kinds of hearty vegetables. I used to love the feeling of racing, being out of breath, being covered in sweat. At 30 weeks pregnant, a run would probably leave me uncomfortable, dehydrated and exhausted. Maybe even sick.

I used to bulk up my plate with all the veggies I could find at buffets and restaurants and would never turn down extras. I wanted them to fill me up but also because they tasted really good. These days I have no reason to fill up my shrinking stomach, and my salads are more like side dishes of simple greens without all the bulky veggies. I used to eat 2-3 servings of veggies but now 1 serving is enough. Enough to get in the nutrients and balance out my plate.

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Walking, yoga, swimming, lighter weight lifting feel good to me.

Running, intervals and pushing myself hard don’t.

While I do still enjoy most vegetables and eat them daily, including salads, they just don’t bring on the same feel-good feeling that they used to and my portions of them are smaller.

Fruit, lightly-dressed greens, yogurt, cheese, eggs – these make me feel good.

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So I guess my point is this: do what makes you feel good.

Run marathons at 39 weeks if that’s what it takes to raise your spirits. Or drop down to only slow walks and yoga. So long as you’re staying active in some shape or form given all the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, then pick what you want to do most.

Similarly, there are so many healthy foods out there – choose the ones you want to eat most and enjoy them. Have smaller portions of the ones that you’re not as crazy about (likely the green ones).

While exercise and nutrition are extremely important during pregnancy, don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up with your old self. Because your old self is gone – at least for the short term!

I actually can’t WAIT to run again – and hopefully get my taste buds back! You know how when you go on vacation for a week you come home just craving the way you felt before the vacation with your healthy habits in place? Pregnancy is like one looooooooooooong vacation. It hit me about 6 months in when I started to miss my old body – not so much its shape or appearance, but how it felt. Now that I’m closer to the end than the beginning, I absolutely cannot wait to go back to my old self. Or rather, Old Self 2.0!

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsay @Runwithtongs & @NaturallyFamily June 26, 2012 at 8:05 am

I am right there with you! I have struggled with the desire to eat tons of veggies but I know need to. Some days I am craving salads, I actually had a whole week that I just couldn’t get enough of them and then the next week I just wasn’t as interested. During my pregnancy I have been more interested in fruits, green veggie juices, brown rice wraps and beans, oh and tons of hot sauce.

As for running I wish I could have been a pregnant runner but it didn’t happen. Now I literally have dreams about running and I can’t wait to get back at it.

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2 Claire June 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

Kath, you should definitely check out this book: “Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives” (http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Months-Before-Birth-Shape/dp/B004Z4M1A4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340714442&sr=8-1&keywords=origins+book). It’s about the latest research in epigenetics. Every bite we take and every bit of exercise (or not exercising!) while pregnant turns on and off genes in our unborn children, effecting their health for the entire length of their lives. It’s amazing the POWER we have while pregnant to literally determine how healthy our children will be for their entire lives!
I learned really interesting things – like when you exercise and get your heart rate up, your unborn child’s heart rate increases as well – so you’re not only strengthening your own cardiovascular system, but your baby’s as well! And poor diet during pregnancy seriously increases the rate of heart disease in your children when they reach adulthood – for example, if your family has a history of diabetes but you follow a low-sugar/low-card diet during pregnancy your child will be less likely to develop the disease.
I recommend this book to anyone even thinking about getting pregnant! Because of this new scientific knowledge, I was much more careful with my diet and exercise during pregnancy than before. The way I looked at it was that it was only nine months, and that it would be the first of many, many sacrifices I would make for my baby – and now that I have my beautiful, healthy girl, I don’t regret it for a minute!

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3 KERF June 26, 2012 at 8:51 am

I love epigenetics!!

I think I’ve done a pretty good job being healthy, though. I don’t feel that stressing myself over a hard run or eating things that make me feel sick would really be worth it when I have 99 other healthy habits that are probably influencing the gene expressions. Not living on sweets on the couch though – totally agree.

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4 Claire June 26, 2012 at 9:12 am

Oh, yeah, no, you don’t have to be like that crazy lady who ran a marathon the day she gave birth, ha! For myself, I just did 30-45 minutes on the elliptical every day and made sure I got my 5-9 fruits and veggies every day (as well as prenatal yoga, walks, free weights, etc). I just know a lot of women who use pregnancy as an excuse to stop exercising and start eating tons of sugar and chips, when they should really be doing the opposite for the health of their baby!

One thing I did do was really try and eat and HUGE variety of food – all the scientific evidence shows that what you eat while pregnant (and while nursing) affects your baby’s taste buds. I didn’t want my kid to be a picky eater, so I ate all kinds of different foods – lots of spicy stuff, exotic things, and I even made sure I ate some things that I’m not a huge fan of (ex. I don’t really like Indian food or celery, but I made sure to eat them on occasion so my baby would be exposed to it!). I know SO many parents of picky eaters who are picky eaters themselves, and I have to bite my tongue to not tell them “you know, there’s a reason they are like that!”

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5 KERF June 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

Agreed :)

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6 Diane June 26, 2012 at 11:23 am

I know it is best to eat perfect and exercise while pregnant, but some people really can’t because of nausea throughout the pregnancy or bed rest. I literally couldn’t hold down anything that wasn’t plain carbohydrate with my second kid, though I was able to exercise. And certain foods, like eggs or brocolli, would make me gag just thinking about them. So while diet and exercise is important during pregnancy, and people should see pregnancy as license to eat junk all day, it is not always feasible and I don’t think parents should worry that they destined their kid to heart disease if they couldn’t eat well during pregnancy. I like Kath’s attitude to do the best you can and eat/exercise in a way that makes you feel good.

What kids eat after birth is just as important, especially the early years. But once again, you can’t force feed your kids. Sometimes they just refuse to eat it. So you got to do the best you can – feed them the veggies they like, keep offering the ones they don’t, give them dips to dip it in, cut it in fun shapes, etc. and hope for the best. But it can be to much to obsess over perfection in kid’s health and eating, and you don’t want to give them a negative outlook towards food.

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7 Lindsay @ Lindsay's List June 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

I was the same way! Especially with Henry (maybe it’s a boy thing). It was a daily struggle for me to eat any vegetables, so I just did what I could. The love came back postpartum.

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8 Julie H. of Spinach and Sprinkles June 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

Luckily, I didn’t lose my love of veggies while I was pregnant and I’m still jogging (if you can call it that!! Seriously, I’m not sure it can even qualify as a jog.) As of the last couple of weeks it has become SUPER tough to eat and to move at all- I’m realizing I’m going to have to scale it back a whole lot now- I hit the point where it doesn’t feel right anymore- or good. This post hit me at the perfect time, Kath. Thank you!
Have a wonderful day! :)

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9 Jessica June 26, 2012 at 9:36 am

I have to smile at the “your old self is gone – at least for the short term!” As a mother, I can tell you that your old self is gone-permanently :)

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10 KERF June 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

I mean physically – my taste buds are likely to return

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11 Megan June 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Yeah, your old self will re-emerge again, physically. It’s really amazing to feel your body return to what it was week after week, like the reverse of pregnancy. That first week post-birth is dramatic, man, it feels good, and food tasted so good to me again.

Love your posts, even though I’m no longer pregnant. You’ve got exciting and joyous times shortly down the road. I’m glad that you’re capturing these moments before your baby, I wish I’d documented my thoughts more pre-baby.

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12 Lindsey @ Lindsey Living June 26, 2012 at 9:38 am

I laughed while I read this post because your “30-weeks pregnant” workout is my regular regimen. I’m always more happy with yoga, walking and lighter lifting and there’s no bun in my oven! :)

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13 KERF June 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

:) No shame in that! Activity is activity!

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14 Jen June 26, 2012 at 9:40 am

Great post, and you’re absolutely right. My husband and I are TTC right now, and I’m always wondering if I’ll be able to keep up my stamina and strength while pregnant (I do a lot of high intensity cardio/weightlifting, like you). I tend to feel a bit guilty if I don’t feel like I’ve worked hard enough, or if I’ve skipped a workout. I know I have to remember to listen to my body and stop when it’s too much, and do the best I can with eating clean and healthy, and not feel guilty!

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15 Heather @ Fit Mama Real Food June 26, 2012 at 9:44 am

I definitely struggled to eat a much veggies when I was pregnant… but I totally wished I could have gotten those sweaty workouts in. I didn’t, but I really missed them! Luckily now I can get them in again and you wil again soon too!! 10 more weeks to go!

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16 Sarah June 26, 2012 at 9:54 am

It’s been a lot of fun reading your posts – my little one just turned one and I remember all the stuff that you’re going through. It’s amazing how you go from eating a normal amount of food to half of what you’re used to since there just isn’t any more room! I remember eating half a sandwich and just handing it to my hubby to finish.
I listened more to my body when I was pregnant than I ever have! I really felt that my body told me what I needed and that was in the form of craving certain foods. The entire pregnancy, I craved super cold milk – so I had a glass or two every day. Early on, I craved fats – butter was added to pasta, veggies, bread, etc. I think that was because prior to pregnancy, I was eating really well and staying away from a lot of added fat. But the baby needed fat to grow! I also started to crave salads – so I made a huge one for lunch every day. I think some of what I wanted was really the salad dressing, but I managed to eat lots of veggies.
I agree with the prior poster – I also tried lots of foods – including bananas – of which I am not a fan! I wish I liked them, but it’s the texture. So I made homemade banana bread or would have a muffin. So far, my little guy is an awesome eater! He LOVES his veggies and right now, we’re on a blueberry kick – I think he would eat an entire carton in one sitting if I let him.
I was able to walk into my early 30s (weeks) and then I started to swell really bad and walking was uncomfortable, so I entered my “beached whale” stage. Unfortunately, walking helps with swelling – but in my case, combined with sitting at a desk all day, it was too much. However, I can attest that walking can help labor – I booked it around our local park and probably did 1.5 miles the day I started labor – and it jump started everything!

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17 Lisa June 26, 2012 at 9:55 am

Hey there just found you via your other KERF site doing Weight Watchers and I was going back and back on your posts and realized there is a baby!! :) So then I found Baby Kerf.. lol I love it!
My daughter just turned 12, but I remember my pregnancy just like it was yesterday. I couldnt even stand to look at chicken in any shape or form. And I bought Oranges!! like 2 bags at a time and just ate and ate and ate. And I had a craving for fudge bars… lol
I kept up walking, that was the best exercise but towards the end ugh I was in summer time also. I had a fan on me 24/7 I could not get cool, ever!
Im very excited to see where you have been , where you are now. Just enjoy every bit of having that baby inside moving around, I miss that the most. And you will get your body back I have faith in that.
:)

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18 KERF June 26, 2012 at 10:17 am

Welcome!

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19 robin June 26, 2012 at 10:01 am

You girls are all just so smart! Your babies are all lucky to have such healthy mamas and very well informed ones too.

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20 Nikki T June 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

Thanks for this post! Definately a reminder to not beat myself up over not eating the boat-load of veggies I used to…or pushing to the limit on the exercise front!
Like yourself, I’ve been keeping up with daily activity, just in a different way…more walking, lighter weight lifting, yoga.
I’m definately ingesting more fruit than veggies these days, but generally make sure to get my daily green in, usually in the form of cucumbers or cauliflower these days rather than carrots, tomoatoes and peppers…very interesting and wierd how things just don’t taste as good

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21 Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength June 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

I absolutely love this post. A lot of clients ask me how they can eat better when they are pregnant if veggies don’t taste good or how they can force themselves to go to the gym. I give a pretty similar answer to what you’re saying in your post. You aren’t the same and while I believe you should “force yourself” to do something active and eat somewhat healthy I also think your body knows best and it’s so so so important to do what feels good and right. :) XOXO

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22 jen June 26, 2012 at 11:28 am

I love reading your posts and all the comments; I think the stuff I learn will come in handy when I’m pregnant! I wonder what I’ll want to eat. I do love greens and veggies now, and also eggs and cheese and yogurt and fruit and nuts and beans and other healthy stuff. I usually eat a big salad every day, but if it doesn’t make me feel as good, I think I’ll just do what you’re doing. Great stuff to read.

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23 coco June 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

I feel the same, although neither my exercise routine nor my diet has changed since I got pregnant, but I do exercise less intensely (no more running and break every 2 min to go to the bathroom), and I don’t enjoy food as much as I used to. I like this approach of taking it as a long vacation and most importantly do what it feels good and don’t feel guilty about it.
Sometimes I got comments from friends such like: why are you not getting fat? why aren’t you eating like a pregnant women? I simply replied to them by saying that I know what my body and my baby needs better than anyone else knows, so I’d do whatever it feels good, even if it’s just continue my normal life.
I think the pregnancy brings too much expectations about what pregnant women should be doing, and when you don’t do it (like over eating and crave ice cream) you’re the weird one, or they think they’re depriving yourself. Why can’t we just eat normal because it feels good to us?

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24 Marci June 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

agree that eating healthy and being active during pregnancy is very important. I think the midnight ice cream thing is more giving into a craving than a real thing. i mean i could say any day that ice cream at 10 a.m. sounds good but I don’t do it! and staying active is so so helpful to delivery and recovery!

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25 Angel7 June 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I do not really crave much of anything. I eat, but feel so full all the time that I do not eat that much.

I cannot wait to go back to my old self as well! My weight is more than it was with our first child, I think, & it is wearing on me.

http://faithfulsolutions.blogspot.com/

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26 Averie @ Averie Cooks June 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Pregnancy is such a surreal experience..even while it’s happening and going through it…it can be like a surreal vacation (liked that analogy). You know the way you used to be and you know your current state is widely different and think about the future and how things will shape up and wanting to get back to the old you, but in a new way. Yes, I remember that feeling!

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27 JessicaE June 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I actually still crave the big salads and huge vegetable stir fries I used to make with 2-5 different types of vegetables, but my stomach just can’t handle them. My mouth wants it, but I guess our little son takes up too much room and it gives me terrible tummy aches. Baby is in charge :D I eat a ton of fruit and also was surprised how bad running felt. I fully expected to jog through my whole pregnancy but it felt wrong. Elliptical, walking and weights felt right.

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28 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) June 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

You have a fabulous attitude! I remember feeling the same way- looking forward to having my body back. Now I do, and it feels great! Though I do think I’ll savor the transition of growing larger again if I get pregnant again (in the future). It’s just so amazing. And like everyone told me, the weight comes off and the old you (or new and improved you!) emerges :)

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29 Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac June 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I think you’re doing a great job! You only get the opportunity to be pregnant so many times, and I think that doing what feels best, and enjoying pregnancy is probably the most important thing!

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30 Amelia @ Eating Made Easy June 26, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I think your go-with-the-flow, yet conscientious approach is doing your body – and your baby – good. Too much time thinking about what we should do creates stress, and stress prevents both mama and baby from feeling their best throughout pregnancy and beyond. Glad you’re sharing your very sane thoughts here :)

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31 Heather (Cake and Green Beans) June 26, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Old Self 2.0… haha, I like that!

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32 Diana @ frontyardfoodie June 26, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I never feel ‘myself’ while pregnant. Sure, pregnancy is exciting and I love the outcome but it takes away my appetite and ability to exercise how I love.

Fortunately, even though it IS long it does eventually end. haha

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33 Karen June 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Terrific message to everyone, pregnant or not: Respect your body by doing what makes YOU feel good – we are all unique in our activity and eating needs – what makes us feel optimally healthy. And, our bodies’ requirements change as we move through various stages in our lives. Listen for cues and adapt accordingly.

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34 sarah (the SHU box) June 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

agree with everything here! the only thing i would add is that you never know – you might have some different cravings/needs while breastfeeding, too. i found that i am actually FAR hungrier while breastfeeding than i ever was pregnant, and i really need to eat a lot of high-fat foods (and more calories than i’ve ever eaten before) to maintain my weight, though i’m running a bit more too so that may play a role as well. however, i do feel like my ‘pregnant taste buds’ are gone and i crave healthy things, too.

i do feel like the Old Self 2.0 applies :) i feel normal in some ways but so different in others!

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35 Ashley M. [at] (never home)maker June 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I can totally relate. I did continue running, but in the later weeks, walking felt much better. In my next pregnancy, I think I am going to do less strenuous activity. I guess we’ll see. I liked feeling good all over versus like I had to impress myself, which is what I sometimes felt like ended up being my motivation for exercise most days. Sigh. You’re doing great!

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36 Stephanie B. June 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I used to live for eating veggies. Since the beginning of my preganancy (I am 12 weeks, 3 days), I have not enjoyed veggies nearly as much. I want to crave spinach again…oh how I miss it.

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37 jen June 29, 2012 at 8:09 am

I think you’re absolutely right in taking a laid back approach while still being mindful of healthy living while pregnant. I had planned to hike and do serious yoga throughout my pregnancy and was amazed to fin ti just didn’t feel good for me by midway through my 2nd tri. So, like you, I took it down a notch and found walking and light yoga felt great. I’m always wary of the folks who want to tell you that you can always “do better” being pregnant and should be exercising more or forcing down healthy foods for the sake of the baby because I find that mindset tends to come with a lot of worrying about whether every little choice you make while pregnant is optimal. To me, that means a whole lot of stress… not good for mom or baby IMO.

I read with interest your comment about getting back to you old self. I remember feeling the same way. But since my little girl arrived a year ago I’ve found that much of that old self did not come back. Yes, the weight comes off, but things are still different, not just physically but emotionally too. And if you end up with a LO with health issues sometimes it means a whole additional year of restricting/adapting your diet because they can’t have any cow’s milk protein or whatever the case may be. I know that some people DO wind up feeling just like their old selves again after baby. That has not been my experience at all — not that it’s been a bad thing, I’m quite comfortable with my new self. I’ll be very interested to read postpartum and see where in the spectrum you wind up.

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38 Queen July 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm

A good way to keep healthy during pregnancy and enjoy the pregnancy period…
Good tips, thanks :)

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39 Fadilah July 31, 2012 at 2:26 am

what if the mother does not like vegetables?
whether the danger to the health of your baby?

sorry for my bad english.

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40 Megan March 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I love your blog. What an ingenious idea. During my first pregnancy and first year of raising a new born, I constantly asked my order sister(a mother of 3), when do milestones happen, which she often didn’t remember. I’m planning on number two now and will refer to your site this time to remember when to expect things. I couldn’t find any references to prenatal vitamins on your blog. It looks like you just eat healthy and exercise. Did you take a prenatal vitamin? Is there one you recommend. I came across Trio Prenatal, a prenatal vitamin that changes nutrients each trimester. Since your a nutritionist, I thought I would ask if you have heard of it and what you thought? https://www.trioprenatal.com/

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41 KERF March 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm

They look good to me but maybe more than you really need if they are expensive. I took a Whole Foods brand prenatal. The most important component is the folic acid. Iron and DHA are nice too but eating low Mercury fish (like wild salmon or sardines) would be a great source from real food.

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