It is incredibly important for expecting mamas to get all of the essential minerals and vitamins needed during pregnancy to help keep mama and baby healthy. Although you can get most of these vitamins from eating a varied and balanced diet, it is recommended that all mamas take folic acid for pregnancy.
Read on to discover more about what folic acid is and why you should be taking it before and during your pregnancy to help keep mama and baby healthy, happy and nourished during the 9-month stre-e-tch!
1. What Is Folic Acid And What Does Folic Acid Do For Pregnancy?
Also known as vitamin B9 or folate, folic acid is used to help the body produce healthy red blood cells and help prevent and treat folate deficiency anaemia. During pregnancy, folic acid is used to help your unborn baby's skull, brain and spinal cord develop properly and to help prevent neural tube defects and development problems such as spina bifida during the early stages of your pregnancy journey.
This essential vitamin can also be found in some foods including fortified breakfast cereals, broccoli and chickpeas. However, it is very difficult to get enough folic acid just from your diet alone as these foods only contain small amounts of folate. So, it is super important to make sure you supplement folic acid for pregnancy, mama!
2. Should I Take Folic Acid Pre-Pregnancy?
If you're trying to conceive, it is recommended by the NHS that you should be taking folic acid every day as soon as you start trying for a baby all the way up until you're 12 weeks pregnant. Research shows that having a good amount of folic acid in your bloodstream during the time of conception can significantly reduce the risk of baby having neural tube defects. So the earlier you start taking it, the better!
If you have just found out that you're pregnant and didn't take a folic acid supplement before conceiving, don't panic mama! Just start taking it as soon as you find out that you're pregnant and as always, if you have any concerns speak with your doctor.
3. What Is The Recommended Folic Acid Intake In Pregnancy?
Doctors and medical professionals suggest that all women who could get pregnant should take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day, before conceiving and throughout their first trimester when the baby's spine is developing. However, some mamas may be advised to take a higher dose of folic acid for pregnancy if they are at a higher risk of experiencing a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects.
You may be advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams if you have previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, you have diabetes, you're taking anti-epilepsy medication or you or your baby's biological father have a neural tube defect. If any of these apply to you, speak with your doctor or midwife and they can prescribe you with a higher dose of folic acid if needed.
No two pregnancies are the same and some mamas may require a higher, or lower dose of folic acid. If you're uncertain, speak with a medical professional before taking folic acid for pregnancy and they can advise you with the correct dose of folic acid.