Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. I am simply sharing my personal experiences and opinions. Always consult with your doctor on any changes to your health and nutrition.
2020 was quite the year for all the things. In Drew and I’s life planning, we knew we wanted to start trying for a baby in the last half of 2020, even before the craziness of the pandemic. To get ready for this endeavor, I decided to discontinue hormonal birth control in January, after I finish running my second half marathon. I was on the pill for 12 or so years and thought it was the perfect time to give my body a break. A few months after my body was detoxing the synthetic hormones from the pill, I started having unusual symptoms that I knew were just not right. I was living the same lifestyle, eating the same, and working out the same amount. However, I was gaining weight uncontrollably, waking up with a swollen face, incredibly tired, shivering constantly, extremely irritable, and constantly hungry.
I told a few of my girlfriends about my decision to stop the pill and I’m so happy I did. They recommended for me to read “Beyond the Pill” by Dr. Jolene Brighten. Dr. Brighten goes into the possibilities of the aftereffects of hormonal birth control (post birth control syndrome), symptoms to monitor, and tips on how to manage the transition. Little did I know, this book was life changing for me and contained the advice and knowledge I needed to help manage the journey my body was unknowingly diving into.
As each day went on, I found myself losing my mind as I watched these crazy, weird symptoms take shape. Ironically, I was turning 30 as these body changes were happening. I made a virtual appointment with my doctor and explained all the weird things that were happening and I could not understand why or how. She was chalking it to me moving into a new decade of life and everything I was going through was “absolutely normal.”
After begging my doctor to believe me that things were just not right, she agreed to test my thyroid and she could not believe how under functioning it was, so much so that she had me test twice! My TCH was 62, when it should be 1.5-2 for women who want to reproduce. My thyroid antibodies were over 300, when they should be much, much lower. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and given a pill to manage my levels and symptoms. I felt so helpless and discouraged. The pill I started to take did not make things go away. It absolutely reduced some of my major symptoms, but I still haven’t been able to shake the extra weight, which is beyond frustrating (especially for someone who closely monitored their health and exercise). I knew there had to be more out there to help with this diagnosis.
Getting more guidance…
Fast forward a few months and conversations with friends, I was guided toward a functional medicine doctor. Initially, I had stopped taking birth control to prime my body for pregnancy. At this current moment, you can imagine my big concerns about my ability to conceive with all of my thyroid issues. How in the world would I be able to conceive when I wasn’t feeling good or like myself?! I knew I needed additional professional help to give my body the proper nutrients it needs to be in a healthy state, but to also make a baby!
My functional medicine doctor completed a comprehensive blood panel, checking all of my nutrient levels. This was the first time I’ve had this type of work done in my life and I felt so reassured that I was finally being taken seriously! The blood results findings determined not only was I hypothyroid, but I was deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin B. I had been doing my own research and found that many women who are on hormonal birth control are deficient in those key nutrients.
After following my functional medicine doctor’s recommendations on taking the right supplements, I began to feel so much better. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with feelings of fatigue and tiredness. I could not believe I was deficient in this area because I live in the sunshine! I also started to feel more strength from the vitamin B supplements.
*My functional medicine doctor did a food and muscle test assessment on me, and also recommended additional supplements to take for adrenal fatigue. I’m happy to answer these questions privately but I believe you should seek professional advice when trying to manage thyroid imbalances. *
Thinking about conceiving…
I took these recommended supplements for about two months and we started trying for pregnancy at the same time. I can’t say for sure if these supplements are how I got pregnant because we were not actively trying prior to including these in my diet. However, I know they did not hinder my ability to conceive and I believe they’ve assisted with maintaining a safe and healthy pregnancy thus far. If I had to consider trying for pregnancy while my body was deficient in key nutrients, I can’t help but believe that our journey to successfully conceive would have been longer and difficult.
After my experience with my functional medicine doctor, I started to evaluate my prenatal vitamin. Coincidentally, the day before I found out I was pregnant, I listened to a podcast by Lacey Dunn, Registered Dietician (Uplift Fit Nutrition, Episode 123) that shared recommendations for supplements for an optimal pregnancy. The speakers talked about several key nutrients in your baby’s development that I was not aware of, such as choline. I checked out my prenatal vitamin and realized that nutrient was not even listed! With this new information, I decided to make the switch to a more optimal prenatal vitamin. The new prenatal I take also meets my requirements in vitamin D and vitamin B, which meant fewer capsules to take per day and less money spent per month. A win-win if you ask me!
As long as I can remember, I get very sick every single winter. I’ve had the flu at least five times since high school. I actually had flu A and B in a six month time frame. During the winter season, I always have a sinus infection, a cold, or just feel like crap. A few contributing factors for my sickly past could very well be hormonal birth control or being hypothyroid for so long and not knowing it. However, I have never felt so good and healthy from a wellbeing perspective and I strongly believe taking the right supplements makes a difference.
Disclaimer: This is a personal opinion and experience. I am not making medical claims, insinuating a cure, or downplaying the severity of COVID-19. I have been exposed to COVID-19 directly at least 3 times in the last two months and have been spared each time. I’ve read articles about studies with correlation on individuals vitamin D levels and if they’ve contracted COVID-19 or not. In these studies, most who have tested positive are indeed deficient in Vitamin D, amongst other nutrients such as Zinc and Vitamin C. I can’t help but wonder that my diligence in taking Vitamin D has kept my immune system strong and healthy.
My Five Favorite Supplements for Pregnancy
Over my pregnancy, I’ve been taking five key supplements that I believe are keeping my baby and I healthy. I’ve had a great response in these supplements and feel confident they are providing us with the nutrients we need. I would like to make clear that supplements cannot be traded for good, nutritious food, so it is very important to be mindful of one’s eating habits in addition to supplementation (although I will say this has been very challenging for me to fully follow during pregnancy!).
As mentioned above, always consult your doctor before trying supplements! These are what are working for me, but everyone’s needs are very different! If you have any questions about my experience, leave a comment below or send me a message on Instagram! I hope this post inspires you to evaluate your supplementation, pregnant or not, and inspire you to give your body the nutrients it deserves!
Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal – I made the switch to this prenatal due to an increase in the amount of Choline, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, the type of Iron, Iodine, Selenium, and Zinc. The only downside is it requires 8 capsules per day.
ProOmega 2000 Nordic Naturals Omega 3 – I’ve been taking this Omega 3 since June 2020, with the instruction of my functional medicine doctor. There are new studies showing the major benefits of Omega 3’s not only for mama but also baby!
Young Living Multi Greens Capsules– Who could benefit from an extra dose of greens? Basically anyone and everyone! I can always increase my vegetable intake and taking this supplement gives me comfort in knowing I am getting more nutrients from vegetables, especially on the days when I’m not eating as many as I should!
Young Living Ningxia Red – The wolfberry ingredients in Ningxia Red have been acknowledged for the immunity benefits. I have had some pregnant mamas tell me they took this during their pregnancy, and it helped with their immune system. I also heard that nurses and doctors have raved about how “healthy” a mother’s placenta looks when she takes Ningxia Red throughout her pregnancy. If you’re interested in any Young Living products, you must purchase through a distributor. My distributor is amazing and I can recommend her to you if you’d like!
Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate – This is my secret weapon. I have been taking magnesium for years to assist with my IBS symptoms. Pregnant women are advised to take 350 – 400 mg of magnesium per day. Magnesium helps with relaxation in sleep, reducing headaches, and preventing leg cramping. One of my most favorite benefits is that it keeps me more regular, which if you’ve ever been pregnant, constipation is no joke! I take 1-2 capsules per day, depending on my daily needs. My prenatal contains about 200 mg of magnesium so I try to stick around that 400 mg per day recommendation.