The Importance of DHA in Pregnancy: Benefits For You & Baby

Posted by Riannon Page on

Pregnancy is a transformative journey that requires optimal nourishment for both the mother and the developing baby. When it comes to essential nutrients, one that plays a vital role in promoting healthy fetal development and supporting maternal well-being is DHA.

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid, and you might have seen the name in your Fish oil supplement alongside its counterpart EPA. However, in this blog, we will only be focusing on DHA and its role in pregnancy. 

Let us begin with what is DHA, and why is it important.

DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid. Being part of the essential fatty acid means that it is important for our health, but our body cannot make it on its own and we can only get it through diet or supplement. DHA is critical for optimal functioning of the brain, eyes, and nervous system. During pregnancy, DHA accumulates rapidly in the fetal brain and eyes, particularly during the third trimester when brain growth is most prominent. It forms a structural component of brain cells and plays a vital role in the development of neural connections and the overall growth of the baby's brain.

Benefits for your baby.

Research suggests that a sufficient supply of DHA during pregnancy can positively impact your child's cognitive development and visual acuity. Adequate DHA levels have been associated with improved cognitive abilities, attention span, and language skills in children as well as a reduced risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Furthermore, DHA promotes optimal visual development, reducing the risk of vision problems later in life. It has also can help reduce the risk of childhood asthma and eczema as well as supporting good hand-eye coordination.

Benefits for you.

DHA has been shown to have a positive impact on maternal mental health. Studies have linked adequate DHA intake to a reduced risk of postpartum depression and improved overall mood stability in new mothers. Additionally, DHA has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts such as joint pain, and inflammation. DHA also plays a crucial role in maintaining the cardiovascular health of the mother by helping to regulate blood pressure, reducing triglyceride levels, promoting healthy blood vessel function, and supporting the production of pregnancy hormones.

So, if we can’t produce DHA, where can we find it?

The best sources of DHA include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout. However, it is important to note that due to concerns about heavy metal and pollutant exposure, pregnant women should choose fish with low mercury levels and limit their consumption to 2-3 servings per week. If you have dietary restrictions or struggle to meet the demand through food, a good practitioner-grade supplement is recommended. Our top retail recommendation is the Bioceuticals Ultra Clean DHA. DHA supplements derived from microalgae are also available for those who are vegan/vegetarian.

Just a reminder:

Every pregnancy is unique, and individual needs may vary. It is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified naturopath to determine the appropriate dosage and supplementation plan that aligns with your specific needs and circumstances. Note: It is recommended to stop DHA supplementation around 4-6 weeks leading up to delivery.

If you need support and guidance as to what supplement to take and when for preconception, pregnancy, and/or postpartum. Book in with one of our qualified naturopaths for a personalized care plan. Book Here

 

 

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