Everything You Need to Know About Prenatal Vitamins

In a perfect world, you’d be able to get every nutrient, vitamin, and mineral you and your baby need for optimal health. But getting everything from food is difficult, especially during pregnancy when you’re experiencing morning sickness, sensitivity to smell and taste, and your changing body. 

Prenatal vitamins are something every pregnant woman should start as soon as possible — both for your baby’s health and for your own. The team at Signature Women’s Healthcare in Lawrenceville and Lithonia, Georgia want to help.

Our OB/GYN providers, Jacquline Hayles-Patterson, MD and Tyndal M. Jones, MD, have put together this helpful guide with everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins. Keep reading to learn more. 

Why do I need to take prenatal vitamins?

Pregnancy takes a toll on your body at the same time you’re supplying your baby with what it needs to grow. Prenatal vitamins give you and your baby all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs before and during your pregnancy. 

Research shows that some of the minerals and vitamins in your prenatal vitamins help reduce your baby’s risk of developing birth defects and can even help keep away the symptoms of morning sickness for you.  

Regular multivitamins don’t have the recommended levels of folic acid and iron needed to keep your health at optimal levels throughout your pregnancy. Look for vitamins with at least 600-800 micrograms of folic acid and 27 milligrams of iron.

When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?

The best time to start taking prenatal vitamins is before you get pregnant, ideally at least four weeks before conception. However, in the real world we don’t always know when we’re going to conceive. 

If you just found out you’re pregnant and haven’t been taking a prenatal vitamin, don’t panic! Starting prenatal vitamins during the first trimester is best, but taking them throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding helps you and your baby stay healthy. 

Which prenatal vitamin should I take?

Every woman is different, and the prenatal vitamin that’s best for you may be different from the one that’s best for another woman. The best way to find out which prenatal vitamin to take is by discussing it with your doctor at Signature Women’s Healthcare. 

Generally speaking, however, in addition to looking for vitamins with the recommended amounts of folic acid and iron listed above, you’ll want a vitamin that has the following:

Again, be sure to discuss the prenatal vitamin you choose with your Signature Women’s Healthcare provider, as some may contain high doses that could actually harm your baby, such as excess vitamin A. 

What about side effects from prenatal vitamins?

Although prenatal vitamins are good for you and your baby, they can cause some unpleasant side effects. One of the most common side effects comes from the extra iron.

Iron helps make red blood cells, which are needed to get plenty of oxygen to you and your baby. But iron also tends to cause constipation and other digestive issues, like:

Vitamin A can also cause side effects in some women, such as minor hair loss and dry, itchy, or peeling skin, while vitamin E can make it easier for you to get a bruise or rash. Talk to your provider if you’re worried about or have any of these side effects. 

It’s important to note that most women tolerate prenatal vitamins well and don’t experience these side effects. To prevent constipation and other digestive discomforts while taking prenatal vitamins, be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day and add more fiber to your diet to help keep you regular. 

Contact us to learn more about prenatal vitamins or to schedule your prenatal visit at the Signature Women’s Healthcare office nearest you. You can call either office, or book an appointment online today.

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