Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of folic acid, calcium and iron to support your baby’s growth. While they are definitely important during pregnancy, it’s also smart to take prenatal vitamins before pregnancy, whether you are trying to conceive or not. MayoClinic.com suggests that you start taking prenatal vitamins at least three months before conception.
It’s smart for anyone to take a multivitamin to make up for deficiencies in food choices. Pregnant women require additional folic acid, iron and calcium. During the first few weeks in the womb, a baby is developing its organs and will begin needing these vitamins and minerals early. You should take prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant so that you can ensure that you have enough stored long before your baby actually needs it. It’s common to not realize that you’re pregnant until you are four to six weeks pregnant.
There are both over-the-counter and prescription prenatal vitamins. Both types include the types of vitamins that you’ll find in a traditional multivitamin — vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin and so on — but have the extra vitamins and minerals a woman needs. Prescription prenatal vitamins are not necessarily better than over-the-counter versions. Additionally, some types of prenatal vitamins also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which promote healthy brain development, and vitamin D to help increase calcium absorption.
The additional vitamins and minerals in prenatal vitamins play an important role. Folic acid prevents birth defects. Calcium helps develop bones and teeth, and iron helps develop muscles and blood. If the mother doesn’t have enough calcium or iron, the baby will start to deplete the mother’s reserves. You can prevent this by taking prenatal vitamins before trying for a baby, as this builds up your stores.
How to Take
MayoClinic.com suggests that you take your prenatal vitamin with water or juice rather than milk or soda. You should take one pill per day, unless your particular brand recommends otherwise. It does not matter what time of day you take your vitamin.
Some women feel a bit sick to the stomach after taking a prenatal vitamin. If this is true for you, try taking your vitamin with food, which should calm the effects. Additionally, the extra iron in your prenatal vitamins can cause you to become constipated and to have dark black stools. You can resolve this by eating foods that contain more fiber.