Importance of Prenatal vitamins

For a healthy pregnancy, women should ensure that their body gets the right amount of nutrition. While following a wholesome diet is always a good idea, it might not be enough to keep up with the growing needs of the baby. Therefore, it is wise that women start taking prenatal vitamins before they conceive. This will help the body recover from any nutritional insufficiencies, making the mother stronger to weather any rapid hormonal and physical challenges during the pregnancy.

Prenatal vitamins contain several types of vitamins and minerals but have a higher content of calcium, folic acid, iodine, and vitamin D as they are essential for the baby’s growth and development. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects that can cause severe anomalies such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Iron, on the other hand, helps amplify the production of red blood cells. Likewise, for developing stronger bones, babies will require adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D, especially in the third trimester.

How to choose the best prenatal vitamins?
There are multiple brands offering prenatal vitamins, however, women should specifically look for products that not only have the essential vitamins for pregnancy but also nutrients such as vitamin A, C, and E, copper, magnesium, zinc, iodine, and omega fatty acids. Although these supplements are available as over-the-counter products, women should seek advice from their gynecologist to pick the best one.

Also, it is imperative to remember that prenatal vitamins can’t act as a substitute for a healthy diet. They merely act as additional support to improve the mother’s nutritional profile.

When should women start using prenatal vitamins?
In most cases, women start taking prenatal vitamins few months before they are intending to conceive. This is because the baby’s neural tube begins developing in the first month of pregnancy itself. Therefore, the mother’s body should be fortified with an adequate supply of nutrients to ensure that the brain and spinal cord develops normally. Although it is a good idea for women of reproductive age to regularly use prenatal vitamins even if they are planning to have a baby after a few years.

In the best interest of the baby’s and mother’s health, it is usually advised to take prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy. Numerous doctors recommend mothers to use these supplements even after childbirth, especially while they are breastfeeding.

Do prenatal vitamins cause side effects?
Typically, prenatal vitamins cause no side-effects. However, some women might feel nauseous after having these types of supplements. In such cases, women should ensure to have their vitamins with meals or before going to bed. Similarly, the iron in prenatal vitamins might contribute to digestive issues, particularly constipation. To deal with this, women should drink plenty of hydrating fluids, increase their fiber intake, and exercise regularly to keep the intestines active. Over-the-counter laxatives shouldn’t be used without the approval of the gynecologist. Most side-effects are temporary and resolve in few days as the body adjusts to the prenatal vitamins.

If women notice any allergic reactions such as itching, rashes, swelling, trouble breathing, and severe wooziness then they should immediately stop using prenatal vitamins and notify their doctor immediately.