Pregnancy, Preventive Care
If you’ve wondered if prenatal vitamins are really worth the hype, the answer, in a nutshell, is yes. While ideally you would get all the important vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants you need from food, the reality is this is hard to achieve. A healthy diet is still incredibly important, but prenatal vitamins can help to fill in nutritional gaps, supplying you and your baby with the important nutrients needed throughout your pregnancy.
The best time to start taking a daily prenatal vitamin is actually before you conceive. Experts recommend taking them, ideally, for three months before trying to conceive. This is because when taken before conception, folate in a prenatal vitamin can significantly reduce the chances of neural tube irregularities like spina bifida. A baby’s neural tube, which will develop into both the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy. If you didn’t take a prenatal vitamin before conception, don’t worry. It’s not too late to start.
Many women also wonder when the best time of day is to take their prenatal vitamins. Ultimately, this is dependent on your schedule and when you’re most likely to remember to take it. Setting phone reminders can help.
If you are pregnant and experiencing morning sickness, it may be best to take your vitamin at night so you can sleep through any nausea.
If you forget to take it one day, it’s best not to double up as this could lead to more nausea or constipation. Also, if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s recommended that you continue taking them after you’ve given birth for about six months.
Prescription prenatal vitamins are more closely regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration than those that are sold over the counter. For this reason, they are more likely to contain the exact amounts of each ingredient that is listed on the label. However, they may also be more expensive than a vitamin you will find on the shelves at a drug store or supermarket. In some instances, insurance coverage may be possible to help lower the cost.
Prenatal vitamins help to provide the important nutrients your growing baby needs as well as to make sure you stay nourished and healthy throughout your pregnancy. Unlike a traditional multivitamin, prenatal vitamins are formulated with specific ingredients to support the needs of you and your baby during each stage of development.
Overall, some of the most important ingredients to look for in a prenatal vitamin are folic acid, calcium, and iron. However, dependent on your overall diet you may have different nutritional needs.
Some also contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) which is important for your baby’s brain tissue growth and function. If your prenatal vitamin doesn’t have DHA in it, you can also take a DHA supplement.
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are 11 key nutrients your body needs leading up to and during pregnancy, including:
Your Axia Women’s Health provider is a great resource in helping to review your medical history and determining which prenatal vitamin choice may be right for you. The bottom line is: the best prenatal vitamin is the one you remember to take each day!