According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, even though women can get these substances through their diets, it is recommended that they take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy to ensure that they get an adequate amount of folic acid and iron every day. While prenatal vitamins can lower the risk of some complications, from anemia and preeclampsia to congenital disabilities of the brain and spine, the downside of these vitamins is the heartburn and constipation they cause. It is interesting to note that obstetricians in Germany, Sweden, and France DO NOT recommend that their patients take prenatal vitamins.
Traditionally during pregnancy, women will take additional nutritional supplements, including prenatal vitamins whose responsible formulations of prenatal products could help them achieve recommended vitamin intake.
This is crucial to the baby and the mother’s health without the potential for excess. In addition, requirements for micronutrients increase during pregnancy.
While most nutrients are achieved by eating a healthy balanced meal, many nutrients are under-consumed regularly, making prenatal vitamins a must-have during pregnancy – or are they?
According to WebMD, a pregnant woman’s essential nutrients are folic acid, iron, and calcium.
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Are prenatal vitamins necessary for pregnancy?
Yes. Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins for pregnant women or women trying to conceive. Compared to regular multivitamins, prenatal vitamins have more of the nutrients you need while pregnant.
🤰During pregnancy, your baby gets all the necessary nutrients from you, so you may need more during pregnancy than you did before pregnancy.
Taking prenatal vitamins and maintaining a healthy diet can help give you all the nutrients you and your baby need while reducing the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia.
While they aren’t meant to replace your healthy eating plan, they may help bridge the nutritional gaps by providing extra micronutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy.
Benefits of taking prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins can help prevent miscarriages, congenital disabilities, and preterm labor.
Other benefits of taking prenatal vitamins during pregnancy include
- Some congenital disabilities can occur during the first month of pregnancy. The baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain, develops early, and folic acid intake may prevent these neural tube defects.
- Prenatal vitamins and vitamin D can strengthen your baby’s bones and lower the risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Vitamin D can be derived from red meat, liver, and egg yolk.
- Pregnant women need more iron than those who aren’t pregnant because iron deficiency anemia is expected in early pregnancy. In addition, the iron in the prenatal vitamins can keep oxygen flowing to your organs and reduces the need for blood transfusion while helping prevent some of the effects of maternal blood loss during childbirth.
- Prenatal vitamins help prepare your body to get all the nutrients for you and your baby. If you aren’t on your prenatal vitamins during your pregnancy, you won’t be able to share the nutrients with your baby as they grow.
Side effects of prenatal vitamins
Some prenatal vitamins can cause nausea in the already nauseous pregnant woman.
If this happens to you, share it with your healthcare provider, who may be able to prescribe a different kind of prenatal vitamins that you don’t have to swallow whole. Options include chewable and liquids.
The iron present in the prenatal vitamins may also make you constipated.
If you are constipated, it may help to eat a high-fiber diet, drink lots of water, exercise if your doctor says it’s safe for you, and take stool softeners with your doctor’s permission.
You may also experience diarrhea, dark stool, low appetite, upset stomach, or cramps.
Should all pregnant women take prenatal vitamins?
No. Not at all. Proper nutrition is essential for your baby’s healthy growth and depends on you for all its nutritional needs.
These needs include essential vitamins, supplements, and minerals necessary for fetal and embryonic development.
Ideally, eating a healthy diet with adequate food sources should provide all your developing baby’s nutritional needs except folic acid and Vitamin D.
However, doctors still recommend taking prenatal vitamins if you’re planning to conceive or are already pregnant for your baby’s well-being unless you see a nutritionist for a nutritional assessment.
When should women start taking prenatal vitamins?
Ideally, between 3-4 weeks after conception. This is because significant congenital disabilities of the baby’s brain or spine occur very early in the pregnancy.
This is even before most women realize that they are pregnant. So if you plan on conceiving, you should take a daily prenatal vitamin at least one month before starting.
These prenatal vitamins can help prevent these congenital disabilities If you take them when you are trying for a baby or when you’re not preventing conception.
Do prenatal vitamins make you more fertile?
No data exists indicating that prenatal vitamins will increase your fertility.
The goal of prenatal vitamins while trying for a baby is to aid in a healthy diet to ensure enough vitamins that are needed after conception to allow for a healthy pregnancy.
What if I forget to take my prenatal vitamin?
It’s okay if you forget to take your prenatal vitamins.
Just take it as prescribed the next day, but do not double up or take more than the recommended dosage because the double dose might be too high of a dosage of specific components of the vitamins.
As much as women need access to all the quality and varieties of food and supplements during pregnancy, they also need access to information to adequately educate themselves and access to quality medical care to navigate specific uncertainties and personal health questions.
If you decide to skip prenatal vitamins during your pregnancy, you should ensure that your doctor is fully aware and on board.
If you cannot meet all of your nutritional needs through food, prenatal vitamins may be necessary for the health of both mother and child.