How can your health impact the development of your baby? To provide for both you and your baby, you need energy and the proper nutritional balance. We’ll cover some basic information about prenatals and how they contribute to a healthy pregnancy so that you can make an informed decision about which prenatal vitamin (if any) to take.
Part 1: Introduction to prenatal vitamins
If you’re new to the world of prenatal vitamins, where do you start? We’ll briefly define what prenatal vitamins are, their ingredients, and how to use them.
What are prenatal vitamins?
Experts recommend taking prenatal vitamins since it can be challenging to provide the right nutritional balance only through your diet during pregnancy. These supplements help fill nutritional gaps and keep you and your growing baby healthy. Some micronutrients, such as folic acid and iodine, have a known impact on your baby’s development. We suggest chatting with your primary care provider to figure out the best prenatal vitamin for your situation. Discuss influential factors such as your lifestyle, any dietary restrictions, and genetic factors.
What’s in a prenatal vitamin?
Experts advise looking for prenatal vitamins with folic acid, calcium, iron, iodine, vitamin C, and zinc. There’s some variability as to how much of each micronutrient is beneficial. Pay attention to what you’re getting from your diet and whether you’re at a higher risk for malnourishment. Risk factors for malnutrition include:
- How many babies you’re pregnant with
- Your age
- Vegan diet
- Weight loss surgery
- Crohn’s disease (and other conditions affecting absorption of nutrients)
- Lactase deficiency
- Smoking, drugs, and alcohol
What do prenatal vitamins do?
Prenatal vitamins are designed to supplement your diet by providing extra nutrients for you and your developing baby. Everything your baby needs comes from you. Studies also suggest that prenatals help prevent physical and mental developmental issues. Folic acid is particularly important because of its role in the development of your baby’s brain and spine. Iron is another micronutrient that’s considered important in pregnancy; it helps transport oxygen from you to your baby.
When to start taking prenatal vitamins
Experts recommend taking prenatal vitamins if you’re thinking about pregnancy, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding. They suggest starting at least one month before conception because prenatal vitamins are designed to help create the right environment for a healthy baby to grow.
Part 2: Benefits and disadvantages of prenatal vitamins in pregnancy
Given the importance of a healthy pregnancy, you may have a lot of questions. To get a better understanding, take a look at the pros and cons.
What are prenatal vitamins good for?
Prenatal vitamins provide the micronutrients needed for your health and the development of your baby. These supplements fill nutritional gaps and help create the environment necessary for your baby to grow.
Benefits of prenatal vitamins
In pregnancy, your body needs a different balance of nutrients to maintain your health and your baby’s. Although you can change your diet to try and fit these needs, it’s challenging to strike the right balance. It can be beneficial to chat with your primary care provider as well as a nutritional expert to find out whether you need to change your micronutrient intake.
What problems can arise by taking prenatal vitamins?
When you’re deciding which prenatal vitamin is right for you, pay attention to both the good and bad aspects. Are you doing any harm (to yourself or your baby) by taking these supplements?
Prenatal side effects
The potential side effects you can experience by taking prenatal vitamins are minor. They include constipation, nausea, low appetite, and cramps. Some studies suggest a link between folic acid and depression. Too little folic acid may be one factor of depression, but you don’t want to overcompensate by taking too much folic acid because this has the potential to cause other issues. Keep in mind, associations between micronutrients and mood still need to be researched more thoroughly. Always discuss this with your primary care provider if you have any additional questions about this association.
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Part 3: Choosing the right prenatal vitamin for you
It can be challenging to sort through all of the choices. How do you decide which prenatal vitamin is best in your situation?
Best prenatal vitamins for pregnancy
We suggest chatting with your primary care provider if you’re having trouble narrowing down your options. Ask for recommendations based upon your circumstances and use the list they provide. If the prenatal vitamins you’re looking at include extra ingredients, ask if the excess may harm you or your baby.
What’s best for you depends on your lifestyle, diet, and preferences on type and form. Prenatal vitamins can be prescription or over-the-counter. Some supplements are chewable while others are swallowable. You can find gummy, capsule, tablet, or liquid forms as well as organic or vegan prenatals.
If you want more guidance about which prenatal vitamin is best for you, we suggest speaking with your OBGYN or primary care provider (and maybe a nutritionist).