Overview and Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

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When you leave the doctor’s office after having your pregnancy confirmed, you’ll likely have two things in hand: a grainy black-and-white ultrasound photo of your little fetus, and a prescription for or sample of prenatal vitamins. The importance of prenatal vitamins during pregnancy cannot be stressed enough! We’ll walk you through the overview and importance of prenatal vitamins during pregnancy.

Overview and importance of prenatal vitamins: why do we take them?

Obviously, eating a healthy and balanced diet is important. But during pregnancy, you want to fill the gaps in your diet to insure you’re getting all the nutrients and vitamins you need. Prenatal vitamins are full of those vitamins and minerals. They also contain things like calcium, iron, and folic acid, which are all vital for a healthy pregnancy.

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Folic acid is one of the most important pieces of the healthy pregnancy puzzle. It helps prevent neural tube defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord. You can get folic acid from leafy green veggies, nuts, and beans. But again, it’s important to fill in those nutritional gaps with supplements! Many women take a folic acid supplement in addition to their prenatal vitamin.

Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days of a pregnancy. This can be before you even know you’re pregnant. Doctors actually recommend that ANY woman who could become pregnant take a folic acid supplement of 400 mg a day.

In addition to folic acid, prenatal vitamins include other nutrients and minerals, like iron, calcium, DHA, and iodine. These are all incredibly important building blocks! Did you know that you need twice as much iron during pregnancy? It helps build red blood cells that delivery oxygen to your baby. While your baby is developing bones, teeth, and muscles, you need 1000 mg of calcium everyday. Vitamin D helps your body absorb that extra calcium. And iodine is necessary for your baby’s developing brain and nervous system.

Overview and importance of prenatal vitamins: when to start, and how to take them!

You should start taking your prenatal vitamins as soon as you think you might be pregnant. If you’re trying to conceive, you should start taking them a few months before the trying turns serious, just to be on the safe side. But since nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned, that isn’t always possible! That’s why doctors recommend women in their childbearing years take a daily folic acid supplement and multivitamin.

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You can get prenatal vitamins in many forms, like pills and liquids. For some women, taking the pills in the first trimester is difficult to manage with their morning sickness. You can talk to your doctor about finding a prenatal vitamin that is easy for you to take.

Depending on the type of vitamin you’re taking, you may have to take it once a day, or multiple times a day. Generally speaking, most vitamins work best taken with water on an empty stomach. But if morning sickness is an issue and you have a hard time taking them on an empty stomach, don’t worry. How and when you take your prenatal vitamins is not nearly as important as making sure you take them every single day.

(Image: iStock / gpointstudio)