I just ... began my search for the healthier prenatal choice. I've read up a lot on the perfect prenatal by new chapter organics. Do you have any opinions on this? I noticed it contains lavender, which I've read can cause some female hormones to appear in male babies? Any other opinions on products for me?
A perfect prenatal is a tall order! Overall -- organic or not -- you want to make sure you’re getting the maximum daily recommended dose of folic acid (important for helping prevent neural tube defects and spina bifida). Some “natural” (that’s in quotes because the claim natural is unregulated) brands also contain additional herbs and nutrients considered beneficial for pregnancy. These claims aren't exactly regulated either, so it's a good idea to go over the ingredient list of any vitamin you're taking with your OB/GYN or midwife.
Here’s a list from The Complete Organic Pregnancy of the vitamins and minerals your pre-natal should contain and the appropriate levels for an expecting mother:
Unfortunately I found (and many, many other moms have found) most of them made me nauseated when I took them, which was tough at a time when I was already nauseated. I wound up trying many different kinds, and also only took them right before bed so I was either less nauseated or I slept through it.
The main difference between an organic and a conventional vitamin is that they're vegetarian and include no filler, artificial color, flavor, or unnatural preservatives. In the case of the New Chapter ones you mention, the nutrients are derived from organically grown whole foods. I remember trying Solgar (natural, not organic, and made with vegetable ingredients and without additives) and finding another organic brand when pregnant, but my daughter is now almost 2 and a half and I can’t seem to find it in a quick online search. Maybe in the years that have gone by the company that made it went out of business? That said, a good health food store is likely to sell others. It’s worth talking with the stockist at your local place if you’re in the market to try more than one.
Vitamins shouldn’t, however, take the place of a well-rounded whole foods diet, especially when pregnant. In addition to folic, pregnant moms need ample amounts of calcium and iron. I know there are times over the course of a pregnancy where milk or meat or spinach or all sorts of things may taste repugnant, but it is really a mom-to-be’s job to eat all of the goodness she can. A growing baby is taking those vitamins directly from you. So hit the farmers market now in its full summer bounty and shovel in as much variety and deliciousness as you can stomach! And don’t forget to continue to eat this way – and to take vitamins – when breastfeeding.
Good food sources of folic include liver, beans, and leafy green veggies. For iron, fill your plate with a delicious combination of grass-fed beef, eggs (yolks especially), sardines, lentils, dark greens, and even molasses and pumpkin (make pumpkin bread!). Calcium, we all know, comes in milk/cheese/yogurt, but it also shows up in many of the dark green leafies you're piling in to get the folic and iron, plus nuts and seeds.
With regard to lavender, I’m assuming you're referring to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests the repeated topical use of products containing lavender oil and/or tea tree oil may cause prepubertal gynecomastia, a rare condition resulting in enlarged breast tissue in boys prior to puberty. The research was done at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This was about products containing these oils. Everything I've been able to find to read about this indicates to me that more research is needed (in fact, the study I just mentioned also said more research is needed). Here’s a Washington Post write-up. Conventional cosmetics also tend to contain other hormone-disrupting chemicals, and non-organically grown lavender could contain traces of pesticides and the like. Essential oil is highly concentrated, which the lavender in this prenatal isn’t likely to be. I haven’t contacted them to ask -- if you’re very concerned, I suggest you do, and also discuss this with your care provider.
Just to provide both sides, here’s a report refuting that lavender (and tea tree oil) can be linked to breast growth in young boys.
The prenatal issue is an interesting one as no one has said anything about ingesting lavender, all of these reports are about wiping the oil on skin. As so many baby creams and massage oils do contain lavender (it's said to be soothing), I look forward to further clarification and studies.
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