• pregnant woman drinking milkThe debate over the need for supplementation continues, but what everyone agrees on is the importance of preparing a woman’s body for pregnancy, as well as maintaining the health of that pregnancy. To make sure that the baby has the best chances of thriving in the external world, it’s essential to create a nutrient-rich, toxic-free environment within its internal world during those 9 crucial months of growth and development.

    What they do
    Just like prenatal vitamins, maternity milks are marketed to promote healthy pregnancy and lactation. They claim to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed to support her changing body. Most are specially formulated to have increased amounts of certain nutrients that are particularly important during pregnancy and throughout lactation, such as folic acid, choline, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), iron, and calcium:

    - Folic acid and choline are extremely important before and during pregnancy because they support the growth and proper development of the baby’s nervous system. Keep in mind that the baby’s nervous system (which includes the brain) is the first system to form, and it basically dictates how the rest of the baby develops, well after they are born.

    - DHA, a type of beneficial fat, is important in the regulation of the hormonal changes that occur in the mother.

    - Iron is another crucial mineral because the maternal blood volume increases dramatically, and iron is needed to create more hemoglobin, a major component of blood cells, to provide proper oxygen and nutrient delivery to both Mom and Baby.

    - Calcium is needed by the heart, nerves, bones, and muscles. If Baby doesn’t get enough, he or she will take it from Mom, who needs it just as badly for her changing body.

    (Related story: The 8 Vitamins Vital to your Pregnancy)

    For all intents and purposes, maternity milk drinks are on the right track for providing much-needed nutrients. Plus, they tend to be lower in fat and higher in nutritional content than most full-cream milks on the market. For women who, for whatever reason, are significantly limited in their ability to obtain sufficient levels of nutrients, maternity milk drinks are adequate in providing minimum levels of nutrition for both the mother and baby. However, if you are looking to do more than just meet the minimum requirements, maternity milk drinks should not be your only source of prenatal supplementation.

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