Pregnancy can be such a special time and it is most likely full of questions about your changing body and how best to support it.
While a lot of our nutrients come from food, sometimes we need a little extra boost – especially when you’re pregnant.
This is where prenatal vitamins come into play. Dietary supplements specially developed for pregnant women. But what does that mean exactly? What Makes Prenatal Vitamins Special? And why should people take them – or not?
Let’s find out!
Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are easy-to-take nutritional supplements that are used to add extra nutrition and the necessary building blocks for a pregnant person and their growing fetus.
They can be especially helpful in the first trimester when people are more prone to nausea and may have an impaired appetite.
What are some other ways prenatal vitamins can support a healthy pregnancy? When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
They support the development of your baby
Raising a person takes a lot of work! What you give your body will help your baby grow and develop.
You may be wondering what nutrients do what.
Similar to newborn humans, calcium and vitamin D help your baby’s teeth and bones develop.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in various types of fish as well as plant sources such as hemp and chia seeds, along with choline, are helpful for a baby’s brain development.
Help prevent premature labor
The vital mineral magnesium can reduce the risk of preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy as well as reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth.
Prevention of neural tube defects
Neural tube defects are a form of birth defect that affects the baby’s brain. The most common are spina bifida and anencephaly.
To prevent neural tube defects, experts recommend taking folic acid supplements. The US CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) advises people who are already pregnant or who could become pregnant to take 400 µg of folic acid per day.
These defects typically appear in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before someone even realizes they are pregnant. For this reason, they recommend adding folic acid to their wellness routine for anyone who might get pregnant.
They support the placenta and the fetus
Blood volume during pregnancy can increase between twenty and one hundred percent above non-pregnancy levels, with an average of forty-five percent.
With all that extra blood, your body needs more iron than it normally gets. Iron supplements during pregnancy are essential to support your increased blood volume, as well as the placenta and your growing baby.
Blood loss during childbirth is normal. Taking iron during pregnancy helps protect you and prevent complications during childbirth by primarily getting more blood into your circulation and preventing excessive blood loss.
Experts suggest taking 30 mg of iron daily, which is often found in a prenatal multivitamin.
Some people may need more iron if they are anemic or prone to anemia, are pregnant with multiple pregnancies, or have taken iron regularly later in the pregnancy.
You can also help support your iron levels by eating foods high in iron, such as legumes, red meats, and dark, leafy vegetables.
If your iron supplements make your morning sickness worse or cause constipation, try taking another one, ask your doctor for a recommendation, or take a gentle stool softener that is approved for pregnancy.
It can reduce the risk of autism
Researchers found that people who took folic acid or a multivitamin while pregnant were 73 percent less likely to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder.
While these results don’t necessarily mean a simple cause and effect, keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to take prenatal vitamins.
Things to be careful of
Unless directed otherwise by your doctor, take only the recommended dose of prenatal vitamins.
Aside from constipation, most of these nutrients are harmless if you ingest more than the normal dose. However, excess vitamin A can potentially cause liver damage and possibly lead to birth defects.
Extra vitamin E should also be avoided during pregnancy as it can increase the risk of premature amniotic sac and abdominal pain in the pregnant person.
Can You Take Prenatal Vitamins Without Being Pregnant??
Not only is prenatal care suitable for people who are already pregnant, but it can also be helpful for those trying to get pregnant.
Pregnancy can occur unexpectedly, but if there is a chance that you could become pregnant, you can support your body and a potential fetus by taking vitamins and supplements prior to pregnancy.
We understand that this is a lot of information to navigate around and additional things to add to your life. When choosing a prenatal vitamin, consult your doctor. It can be helpful to have your nutritional levels tested and then move on.
Choosing a multivitamin doesn’t have to be stressful! Try to find a brand that makes it seamless by wrapping everything in an easy-to-take capsule or two or manageable sachets that are pre-dosed.
You can do it!