The Role Of Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy
Chances are very likely that a pregnant woman is already taking some form of prenatal vitamins daily. Prenatal vitamins are vital because they contain crucial vitamins and minerals for womens needs that the average multivitamin does not contain. There is a special significance of using prenatal vitamins during the first trimester of pregnancy to conceive a healthy beginning for the newborn. The importance of the supplements does not diminish during the entire pregnancy.
The baby needs the extra nutrients to help it grow and develop into a healthy child. Consult with a doctor if the supplements make you ill or try taking them with a light snack later in the day. The important thing to remember is not to stop taking them without a doctors recommendation.
Other Supplements In Pregnancy
Other than folic acid, vitamin D and iodine and any supplement prescribed for you by your doctor, there is limited evidence to support the use of supplements during pregnancy.
Emerging research has shown that omega-3 supplements during pregnancy might help reduce the risk of premature birth, and that probiotics might help control blood glucose levels in pregnancy. But it’s not clear whether the benefits of taking these supplements outweigh any possible harms. Until there is better evidence available, it’s best to avoid them unless prescribed by your doctor â particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Because nutritional supplements are classed as ‘complementary medicines’, they are not scrutinised or regulated as much as other medicines.
Planning The Next One
Women who are trying to become pregnant should start taking a prenatal vitamin a few months beforehand to prepare the body for pregnancy. If you chose to breastfeed your baby and are ready to start trying for the next one, your doctor may advise you not to stop taking your prenatal vitamin at all. Or, you may have only a few months of downtime between pregnancies. Whatever the case, involve your doctor whenever you are considering changing from one supplement to another, especially when it involves prenatal vitamins.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins
Most women who take prenatal vitamins as directed by their doctor or midwife experience little or no side effects from prenatal vitamins. The iron in prenatal vitamins may cause constipation, and some women complain of nausea. You also may have diarrhea, dark stools, low appetite, and stomach upset or cramps. Talk with your OB/GYN or midwife about any side effects you have from taking prenatal vitamins.
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Why You Shouldnt Stop Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins
Its only been a few days since Johns Hopkins released the preliminary results of a study on folate levels and autism, and we have already received calls and emails regarding the findings. Unfortunately the headlines in many of the news articles have been incredibly misleading. Take for instance, A Study Asks: Too Much Folic Acid a Cause of Autism? .
Before I discuss the details of the Johns Hopkins study, I want to review why it is so vitally important for reproductive age women to take folate .
Folic acid is a B-vitamin needed for proper cell growth which is found in many multivitamins, as well as many food sources, such as lentils, dried beans and peas, and dark green vegetables. Not so surprisingly, many women do not consume diets with adequate amounts of naturally occurring folic acid. Because folate deficiency in pregnant women has been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, including anencephaly and spina bifida, it is recommended that women take folic acid supplements during pregnancy. It is estimated that by taking these supplements, pregnant women reduce their risk of having a child with a neural tube defect by 50% 70%.
Folate Levels and Risk of Autism
These findings are striking. However, so many questions remain, and the answers to these questions are very important in terms of understanding the clinical significance of these findings.
How Much Folate?
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When To Switch Back To A Regular Multivitamin
Once people hit the six month mark after birth and are no longer lactating, a regular multivitamin, like Essential for Women, should help support nutrient needs. For those who are still breastfeeding, we suggest sticking with a postnatal multivitamin. Pretty simple, right?*
And as always, check with your physician if you have any specific questions about supporting your nutrient needs during this important time. New parentsyou got this.
As a health company that adheres to standardized nutrition researchwhich is often reliant on assigned sex at birthwe face some unique challenges regarding our gender-specific messaging. Our decision to use gendered terms is, unfortunately, a result of these limitations in nutrition research. In cases where complying with the binary distinction is necessary for scientific accuracy purposes, we want to make it very clear that we recognize a persons gender identity might differ from their assigned sex.
When To Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin
If youre thinking about getting pregnant within the next year, it’s a great idea to do your research and find a high-quality prenatal vitamin to start as soon as possible.
“Take them right now,” says Felice Gersh, MD, an OB/GYN specializing in womens health and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, Calif. “I recommend prenatal vitamins to all my reproductive-aged women, whether or not making a baby is a current goal.”
Not only does taking a prenatal vitamin before you start trying to conceive help optimize your health, but it also gets you in the habit of taking the pill daily.
“The idea is to be optimally healthy prior to conception,” says Dr. Gersh. “From the moment of ovulation and fertilization, you want everything perfect. That requires getting an optimal array of nutrients into the body, in order to optimize hormones, control inflammation, nurture the gut microbiome, and promote and support the ability of cells to perform essential functions.”
Some healthcare providers recommend starting a prenatal vitamin three to six months prior to trying to conceive. Organizations like ACOG and the CDC stress that it’s important to start taking folic acid, specifically, at least one month prior to becoming pregnant. Be sure to speak to your OB/GYN or primary care provider early and often so that they can recommend the best course of action for you.
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A New Moms Nutritional Needs
During pregnancy, stores of several nutrients may have been depleted and need to be replenished during the postpartum period.2 Part of your postpartum self-care should focus on restocking nutrients that many have been depleted during pregnancy. Not only does caring for a newborn require increased energy demands, breastfeeding moms need about 500 more calories per day, so you need to continue to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest.
If youre nursing, you want to ensure your milk provides all the vitamins and minerals your newborn needs. While youll do your best to continue eating a healthy diet, taking vitamins while breastfeeding gives you that peace of mind knowing youre getting additional support for possible nutritional gaps in your diet.
Should I Take Prenatal Or Postnatal Vitamins
Your decision to use prenatal or postnatal vitamins after giving birth will depend on your priorities. Itâs fine to take prenatal vitamins after birth, and doctors recommend them. If you found a brand you liked while pregnant, you may be able to continue taking the same type of vitamin after youâve given birth.â
If youâre concerned about your milk supply or have other postnatal issues, postnatal vitamins may be a better option. Your doctor can help you find the one thatâs best for you.
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Supporting Babys Brain Development
Both choline and omega-3s are essential nutrients for the development of your babys brain. Choline availability is crucial for the development of the central nervous system, with evidence of effects on cognitive function in infants, says Dr. Austin.
A type of omega-3, docosahexaenoic acid , is necessary for normal development of the brain and retina, according to Dr. Austin. Fatty fish is the best source of DHA, but its important women of childbearing age choose fish low in mercury and other contaminants, like:
Eicosapentaenoic acid is another type of Omega-3 fatty acid. During pregnancy, EPA helps to transport DHA and increase gene expression important for your babys developing brain cells. Studies show that taking a DHA and EPA supplement may lower the risk for preterm delivery.
What Animals Can Make Vitamin C
Most species of animals synthesise their own vitamin C. It is therefore not a vitamin for them. Synthesis is achieved through a sequence of enzyme driven steps, which convert glucose to ascorbic acid. It is carried out either in the kidneys, in reptiles and birds, or the liver, in mammals and perching birds.
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Benefits Of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are important for your baby’s proper development. The main purpose is to reduce neural tube defectsa type of very serious birth defectin babies, says Dr. Gersh.
The most common neural tube defect is spina bifida, which affects about 1,500 babies born each year in the United States. Folic acid decreases the risk of a birth defect substantially.
The iron in prenatal vitamins is also essential to your baby’s growth. Blood volume doubles in pregnancy so adequate iron intake is essential to prevent anemia and to support the development of the placenta and fetus, says Sari Imberman, MS, RD, founder of Fun With Food, a service that helps parents raise children with happy and healthy dietary habits.
Prenatal vitamins have also been shown to lower the risk of preterm labor, a low birth weight, and preeclampsia. Other benefits are a better mood for the parent, stronger hair, detoxification, and blood production,” says Dr. Gersh.
They may help with morning sickness, too. Studies have shown that women who take prenatal vitamins at least three months prior to conception experience less nausea in their first trimester of pregnancy, says Santos.
Prenatal vitamins can be beneficial in the postpartum period, too. Continuing the prenatal vitamin in postpartum and while breastfeeding is also advised to keep moms body well-nourished and able to produce nutrient-rich breastmilk, says Imberman.
Common Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins
Even among the most seasoned medical professionals, its not always easy to distinguish between pregnancy symptoms and prenatal vitamin side effects. So how can you tell which is to blame? Its a million dollar question, says Dr. Valent. As pregnancy progresses, there are no two hours that are the same. Even if you stop taking your prenatal vitamin and your symptoms go away, theres no saying whether thats because of your pills or your pregnancy.
Nevertheless, prenatal vitamins can contribute to the following side effects in some cases.
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What Happens If I Forget My Prenatal
We get it: vitamins are important. During pregnancy, our bodies need more vitamins than usual. But remembering to take a prenatal every day can be difficult, and a lot of people dont love swallowing bulky pills. So what actually happens if you forget your prenatal vitamin or skip a couple days?
Experts recommend that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive take a prenatal vitamin daily. Things like folic acid, DHA, and omega-3 can be difficult to get from your regular diet, and those nutrients are important for your babys development. For nutrients that can easily be found in the average diet, prenatal vitamins can give you the extra boost you need to make sure you reach 100% of your daily value.
Your baby needs these vitamins and nutrients to grow properly, and you need to make sure there are enough vitamins in your body for the both of you. Folic acid is especially important because it helps prevent neural tube defects, which usually occur in the first trimester. During that time, its incredibly important that you get the right amount of folic acid. However, missing a day or two of taking your prenatal probably isnt going to make a difference for you or your baby as long as you remember to take your prenatal the rest of the time.
When Do You Stop Taking A Prenatal
Not only was when to start taking a prenatal a surprise to me, so was when to stop taking one. Its suggested that new mothers continue to take their prenatal supplements at least four to six weeks after birth. Some experts even suggest continuing your prenatal vitamin up until six months after birth.
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Do Prenatals Help With Lactation
Although theres no clear evidence that PNVs will increase milk supply, several studies suggest that the quality of breastmilk is enhanced with continued PNV use. Since many of the vitamins found in our prenatal can be traced into the bloodstream, it’s a good idea to continue taking a high quality supplement such as Natalist Postnatal Multivitamin.
The Difference Between Prenatal And Postnatal Vitamins
Before you decide to stop taking any vitamins or switch to a different kind, it helps to first understand the goals of each multivitamin.
- Prenatal multivitamins: The word prenatal literally means before birth. So prenatal multivitamins are specifically designed to include just the right combination of essential nutrients to meet the increased nutritional demands of a pregnant woman and her developing baby in utero. For instance, prenatal multivitamins contain extra iron and folate
- Postnatal multivitamins: Also known as postpartum, the word postnatal literally means after birth. So postnatal multivitamins are specifically designed to support the nutritional needs of women who recently gave birth as well as women who are breastfeeding. For instance, because iron needs go down after pregnancy, postnatal multivitamins contain much less iron than prenatal multivitamins.1
The verdict: Since prenatal and postnatal multivitamins are specifically designed to meet different nutritional requirements, its best to take prenatal vitamins while youre pregnant. Then, consider switching to postnatal vitamins after you give birth, whether youre nursing or not.
Learn More: When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
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A Prenatal Vitamin Before Conception Ensure You Have All The Nutrients You Need To Welcome This Little Miracle
- Try various brands: fruity gummies, chewable tablet, big or small pills, a daily dose of 1, 2 or 3 pills as per the bottles indication there are lots of choices and maybe something will suit you better.
- If you have morning sickness and throw up a lot, take your prenatal multivitamin after dinner or even at night.
- Take your prenatal multivitamin with food, so it doesnt sit on an empty stomach.
- If taking a prenatal vitamin makes you constipated, make sure you check these factors:
- Do you drink plenty of water?
- During pregnancy, you need 3L of water per day
- Yes, it has to be mostly water, but it can also be coffee, tea, soup
- Get yourself a water bottle, measure its volume capacity and determine how many times you need to refill it during the day
When Can You Stop Taking Prenatal Vitamins
If you are not going to breastfeed after giving birth, you can return to your daily multivitamin. However, if you plan on breastfeeding, we suggest you continue taking prenatal vitamins until you stop. The vitamins can help your baby keep developing even after birth.
But, choosing to return to your daily multivitamin as you breastfeed is acceptable. All you need to do is optimize your nutrition to accommodate your babys needs.
The most important thing is that you and your baby are getting the appropriate amounts of vitamins. If you think optimizing your daily multivitamin would be too confusing, you can stick to prenatals for a while longer. After all, these supplements are already optimized for babies.
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What Happens If You Dont Take Prenatal Vitamins
Taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy can help prevent miscarriages, defects, and preterm labor. If youre not taking prenatal vitamins, neural tube defects can appear:
- Anencephaly: This occurs when the babys skull and brain doesnt form correctly. Babies that are born with anencephaly dont survive.
- Spina bifida: This occurs when the spine does not form correctly and the baby may have physical disabilities.
Now that we have addressed one of the most asked questions, What happens if you dont take prenatal vitamins?, we can move on to the next section: When to take prenatal vitamins.