- Prenatal vitamins pack a lot of nutrients that your baby needs to grow and develop!
- There are different kinds so always talk with your provider when you decide to take some.
- Plan out what to take, when to take them, and know why you take them!
Prenatal vitamins are multi-vitamins specifically tailored to pregnancy to make sure your body has the nutrients it needs to grow a healthy baby. They typically include more folic acid, calcium, and iron than a regular women’s multivitamin. The goal of a vitamin is to supplement a healthy diet, not provide all the nutrients that you need for pregnancy.
There are a lot of nutrients in a prenatal vitamin. Here are some of the most common, the role they play in a healthy pregnancy, and some foods that contain them:
- Vitamin A: Supports the development of healthy eyes, ears, limbs, and the heart. Find it in eggs and cheese.
- Vitamin B: The B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, panthothenic acid, biotin, phridoxine, folate, and cobalamin) are some of the most important during pregnancy in preventing fetal abnormalities. Find them in peas and fruit.
- Vitamin C & E: Helps your bodies absorb iron, support a healthy immune system, and are critical in the production of collagen (the protein found in bone, skin, tendons, and cartilage). Find in oranges, nuts, and seeds.
- Vitamin D: Helps strengthen bones and teeth, plus helps both mom and baby with mood, brain function, and immune system health. Find in fortified milk and well prepared salmon.
- Folic Acid or Folate: Supports the baby’s brain and spinal cord development, preventing neural tube defects. Find in leafy greens and whole-grains.
- Calcium: Supports bone development of the baby and strengthens your bones during pregnancy too. Find in milk and yogurt.
- Iron: Helps the blood carry oxygen and supports the development of the placenta. Supports the baby’s overall growth and prevents mom from becoming anemic where you have a lower number of healthy red blood cells. Find in beans and lean meats.
- Iodine: Supports healthy thyroid function, metabolism, fetal growth, and hearing. Find in sea fish.
- Magnesium: Supports healthy blood pressure and healthy birth weight. Find in almonds and leafy greens.
- Zinc: Supports immune, nerve, and muscle function. Find in some cereals and beans.
You do not have to rely only on your prenatal vitamins to get all the nutrients your baby needs! Chat with your provider to see what nutrients would be good for your pregnancy, and they may recommend to just eat more of certain foods to get that nutrient. If you already have a prenatal vitamin picked out, you can bring or take a picture of the container to show your provider at an appointment, so that they can determine if it’s a good fit!
How Long Should I Take Them?
You can start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test and even before you start trying to get pregnant. This helps your body store up the nutrients and support the baby’s early development. You should take the vitamins during your entire pregnancy. They are helpful for your body the whole time you are breastfeeding as well, which could be a year after giving birth or even longer!
Are There Negative Side Effects?
Sometimes prenatal vitamins can make your stomach more upset. Having a meal or snack and a full glass of water with the vitamin will help, as does taking it before bed instead of first thing in the morning. If the vitamin is high in iron, you may also feel constipated. Drinking lots of water will help with this too!
Where Do I Go From Here?
Do your research, and check out some prenatal vitamins at your local grocery store, pharmacy, or online. Then talk with your provider about the ones you found, and get their take on what prenatal vitamins would be best for your pregnancy.
Once you have them, make it part of your daily routine! Taking a daily prenatal vitamin can feel like just one more thing to remember. Make it easy and pick a time of day to take the vitamin. After breakfast is perfect! If nausea is a problem, particularly in early pregnancy, right before bed can be a better time.
Prenatal vitamins are not replacements for nutritious meals. Take a look at our nutrients during pregnancy and exercise blogs for more information on how you and your baby can have the happiest and healthiest of all pregnancies!