Dr. Banafsheh Bayati, MD, OB/GYN, FACOG had been practicing medicine for nearly two decades when she met with a new patient. “Victoria ‘Tori’ Thain Gioia came to me searching for answers as to why her daughter was born with a cleft lip,” Dr. Bayati says. “I began to research how this defect took place [and] uncovered that it may have been associated with a folate deficiency in the first four to seven weeks in Tori’s pregnancy that was not addressed by the one-size-fits-all prenatal vitamin she had been taking.”
Such a finding led Tori to connect with another mother, Alex, who was also struggling with her prenatal regimen. Together, with Dr. Bayati by their side as Medical Co-Founder, the three created Perelel to reimagine pre and postnatal health by creating vitamins that adapt to the body’s changing needs and support both mom and baby at each unique stage of motherhood. “Perelel was formulated by obstetricians with a knowledge in nutrition and an understanding of the unique needs of our pregnant patients from preconception prior to pregnancy, throughout the first, second and third trimester, postpartum and into the first five years of motherhood.” Here, Dr. Bayati shares the nine things you must know about your prenatals (and some of her favorites from Perelel).
1. One Size Doesn’t Fit All.
Timing of nutrients matter. We know a woman’s nutritional needs change throughout pregnancy to support her growing baby, so shouldn’t your prenatal do the same?
2. There’s a Folic Acid Myth.
Up to 60% of women cannot process folic acid due to a genetic variation, yet folic acid is still a household prenatal ingredient. Instead, you need the natural methylated form of folate, L-5 Methylfolate, and you need a higher dose prior to conceiving and earlier in your pregnancy than later.
3. Less Isn’t Always More.
We tend to associate “fewer” ingredients with “clean” ingredients, but that’s not always the case. Eliminating certain ingredients without a deep knowledge of each trimester’s unique needs is not optimal. Pre-pregnancy needs are very different than the first trimester and certainly different than postpartum. Every pregnant woman feels and knows this to be true. We optimize each period of this journey with exact ingredients that are supportive to the woman and the developing fetus.
4. More Isn’t Always More.
Throwing in everything but the kitchen sink only makes your vitamins impossible to tolerate and harsh on your GI system. That ultimately leads to irregular or lack of use. Instead, your ingredients should be research-backed and targeted so you’re not being overdosed or underdosed. You’re getting exactly what you need, when you need it.
5. There Shouldn’t Be Any Harmful Additives or Fillers.
This is key. Vitamins should smell and taste like vitamins. You should take them with food or at night to help with tolerability. Certain fat-soluble vitamins are best absorbed with a meal. And be aware of any additives to cover taste or smell.
6. Formulations Should Change and be Informed by the Latest Research.
There is always new research coming out in women’s health, and brands should be on top of it for you. For example, we removed biotin from our formulation because we learned biotin can interfere with many common blood test results leading to misdiagnosis. We also included higher doses of choline, as recent research has shown that choline is a crucial nutrient for a baby’s development. Consumers don’t always have time to stay on top of these insights, and you should be able to trust that your prenatal brand has put in the work.
7. Vitamins Aren’t Candy.
Gummy vitamins are less stable than their tablet or capsule alternatives. That’s because vitamins and nutrients are sprayed on like hard-coated candy, which means it’s a less reliable vitamin that can lose potency over time. Also, most chewable or gummy vitamins don’t contain iron, which is a crucial nutrient for pregnant women, because it’s so difficult to mask the metallic taste.
8. Have Your Basic Needs Covered When You Can’t Stomach Much.
In the first trimester, women are often plagued with nausea and incredible morning sickness – making it extra challenging to stomach vitamins. We formulated our packs to allow women to cover their baseline needs on days when they can’t stomach the full pack by taking only the smallest folate pill. This is crucial during the first few weeks of pregnancy when women might forgo their vitamins altogether, but we made a way to cover their baseline needs until they’re ready to take the full pack.
9. Don’t Forget About Postpartum and the Early Years of Motherhood.
Postpartum and early years of motherhood are often forgotten about, but any woman knows that this is a time where some extra support is not only appreciated but much needed. During postpartum, your body needs to recover from birth and provide extra nutrients to your growing baby. Or, if you’re a mother of young children, you know that extra energy and endurance is required for those busy toddler days. Supplements can be tremendously helpful during this time, but optimizing is essential.
[Perelel’s] goal was to create a postnatal vitamin that can be taken up to five years into motherhood that helps manage stress and anxiety, supports sleep and energy, and of course covers nutritional needs. The Mom Multi Support Pack includes an Omega DHA + EPA as research shows that EPA in your Omega may help with postpartum depression and anxiety in addition to supporting metabolism, while the DHA in Omega is crucial for breastfeeding moms to support baby’s brain development. Additionally, the Beauty Blend includes key ingredients like collagen and biotin to help the body heal postpartum and combat hair loss. Finally, the Stress Support Blend is a breastfeeding-safe blend to promote relaxation and help moms unwind. We carefully chose specific ingredients to help moms recover and continue to feel their best.
This article was written in partnership with Perelel.