Prenatal Vitamins and Crohn's Disease: My Supplement Regimen
I must admit one of my favorite things to read is 'what I eat in a day' type posts, but I rarely find them from people with IBD. Admittedly, we are all so different so that might be why. Since being pregnant, I'm always searching for what other IBD moms-to-be are doing and love reading everyone's unique experiences!
Being pregnant with IBD can be a real worry when it comes to nutrition and from day one, I was really conscious of my different vitamin levels and my diet. I know I needed more nutrition than my diet could give but there wasn't really much guidance on things like prenatal vitamins when it comes to IBD. So I thought I'd share my own experiences of the type of prenatal vitamins and supplements I take. Please note, I am in no way an expert and please run everything by your doctor before taking anything!
The search for the perfect, belly-friendly prenatal vitamin!
I knew how important prenatal vitamins were but I also knew how a) my belly hates change and b) if I was flaring, I'd be unlikely to digest it all anyhow! I don't do well with traditional iron supplements in particular so this was a worry!
On the advice of a nutritionist, I decided to hunt for food-based and liquid-based supplement rather than the regular kind. I've heard before a liquid/food based solution can be gentler on our stomachs.
I found an all-round prenatal vitamin that was based on food sources of vitamins rather than the synthetic version. The supplement also advised that I could cut the tablet up and sprinkle in things like porridge and juice! I did this at first and then transitioned to the tablet form most days (purely because cutting the tablet was a little tricky at times!). Obviously, check you can do this with your supplements as not all work that way.
My nutritionist recommended me to take Folate rather than Folic Acid (again this is basically a food-based version of Folic Acid). In my early weeks, I took additional liquid drops (again, I know those of with IBD might struggle to digest traditional vitamins so I figured these would give me a maximum chance of absorption) of Iron, Folic Acid, and Vitamin D. Once I had my vitamin levels tested at the end of the first trimester, I just continued with the prenatal as my vitamin supply was great!
The next thing I decided to take was a fish oil supplement. Fish is always one of my go-to foods with IBD. Being pregnant means you have to cut down on it slightly (oily fish is restricted due to high mercury levels). I knew the Omega 3 was really beneficial in general for your health (and there's been a suggestion it could help with IBD too1 and in helping the baby develop, so I decided to take an additional fish oil supplement. There are lots of different types of fish oil so my top tip is to check for how much DHA and EPA they contain. Oh and try to find one that doesn't give you fishy burps!
Probiotics and IBD are a bit of a mixed bag. In fact, I could write a whole blog post on them. You'll need to talk to your doctor before taking them as they'll be able to advise whether it's appropriate to you. Before I found out I was pregnant, I actually did a gut bacteria test which revealed I had a really low amount of good bacteria in my gut.
Given we read so much about pregnancy and passing on good bacteria to our baby, I decided to start taking a liquid-based probiotic. There is hardly any evidence this would help my Crohn's unfortunately but I had read it could help the baby and reduce their risk of developing allergies.2 As someone who can't eat gluten and dairy, this was music to my ears so I thought it couldn't hurt! I have found since taking the probiotic I have been able to increase the variety of food I'm eating and recover from colds very quickly. So this has been a positive step!
And that's all I've taken so far! I take my probiotic shot and prenatal every day and tend to take my fish oil supplement on days I don't eat fish. I'd love to hear your experiences of being pregnant with IBD-have any other vitamins or supplements helped you?
What is your comfort level disclosing your IBD to your employer?