Prenatal vitamins—why do they matter, how do you choose, and what do they do? Whether you’re trying to conceive or you’re already pregnant, prenatal vitamins are very beneficial to your baby’s health.
A healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you and your baby need—but you could still be lacking some key nutrients. That’s where prenatal vitamins come in. They fill the gaps in your nutrition, so you and your baby can be at your healthiest.
When Do You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Most of the time, you’ll want to take prenatal vitamins throughout your entire pregnancy. Your doctor might even suggest that you keep taking them even after your baby is born, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
What Makes Them Different From Other Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins usually contain more folic acid and iron than your standard multivitamin. This is important because folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects or serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. The iron in a prenatal supports your baby’s growth and development and can prevent them from having anemia.
There’s even been some research suggesting that taking prenatal vitamins can decrease your risk of having a baby who is small for their gestational age.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Some women report feeling nauseous after taking prenatal vitamins. If you find yourself feeling this way, try taking your vitamins with a snack or meal, or before you go to bed for the night. Sometimes the iron in your prenatal can cause constipation. If you’re experiencing this, here are a few things to try:
- Drink lots of water
- Increase the amount of fiber in your diet
- Include more physical activity in your routine, as long as it’s safe
- If the problem persists, ask your doctor about using a stool softener
What About Other Nutrients?
Omega-3 fatty acids can help with your baby’s brain development but aren’t found in every prenatal vitamin. If you don’t eat a lot of fish, chia seeds, walnuts, or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, your doctor might recommend a supplement in addition to your prenatal vitamins.
Calcium and vitamin D are also very important, especially during your third trimester. That’s when your baby’s bones are growing quickly and getting stronger!
How Do You Choose a Brand?
Prenatal vitamins are widely available over-the-counter from most pharmacies or grocery stores. Your doctor might suggest a specific brand that they trust, but they also might leave it up to you. Generally, you just want to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, calcium, iron, and vitamin D—those are the basics. If you can find prenatals that also contain vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, iodine, and copper that’s even better!
Keep in mind that prenatal vitamins are supposed to complement a healthy diet, not substitute good nutrition. Also remember that every woman’s nutritional needs will be different! Always talk to your doctor. They might recommend higher or lower doses of certain vitamins.
Interested in more maternity advice? Visit RMC’s website today.