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Prenatal Vitamins Before, During, and After Pregnancy

Updated on April 20, 2016
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Marissa is the writer of ThePracticalMommy and the blog Mommy Knows What's Best. She is a stay-at-home mom to four and was a teacher.

One a Day Prenatal Vitamins

One a Day Prenatal Vitamins with DHA
One a Day Prenatal Vitamins with DHA | Source

Prenatal Vitamins for Pregnancy

Eating healthy during pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for your baby, but how can you ensure that you're getting all of the important vitamins and minerals you need? By taking a prenatal vitamin, you can be sure that you are getting all of the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.

What Do Prenatal Vitamins Do?

Prenatal vitamins are designed specifically for the needs of pregnant women. They are full of only the essential vitamins and minerals needed to support the pregnancy and healthy growth of the baby without providing too much or too little of those vitamins and minerals, which can be harmful. They also contain specific vitamins, like the B vitamin folic acid, which help reduce the chances of birth defects.

Prenatal vitamins also support a healthy immune system in the mother whose immune defense is lowered due to the pregnancy. Along with that, they provide energy for the pregnant mother who may feel fatigued during much of the pregnancy.

Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy

It is perfectly safe to take prenatal vitamins before pregnancy. It's important for women who are trying to conceive to build up their stores of folic acid, iron, calcium, and other vital minerals and vitamins to prepare their bodies when they need to support a growing baby.

Some women take prenatal vitamins with the intention of growing stronger nails and thicker hair. These claims are unproven. In fact, it may not be safe for just any woman to take prenatal vitamins since they are specially formulated for supporting healthy pregnancies and may contain too much of the vitamins and minerals that the average woman may not need.

Taking Prenatal Vitamins

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Tell your doctor about any extra supplements you have been taking. Some may not be safe for pregnancy. At the onset of pregnancy is a great time to start taking prenatal vitamins.
Tell your doctor about any extra supplements you have been taking. Some may not be safe for pregnancy.
Tell your doctor about any extra supplements you have been taking. Some may not be safe for pregnancy. | Source
At the onset of pregnancy is a great time to start taking prenatal vitamins.
At the onset of pregnancy is a great time to start taking prenatal vitamins. | Source

When to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Most doctors will recommend that women of childbearing age should take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before conception to make sure that their bodies have enough of the vital nutrients necessary to support a healthy pregnancy. The folic acid aids in preventing neural tubal defects, which often occur in the first month of pregnancy when the neural tube is growing.

If you just found out you're pregnant, you can start taking the vitamins right away. If you are already taking a daily multi-vitamin, you can continue to take it. Other supplements may not be safe to take; discontinue use of those. Speak with your doctor about which kind of vitamin is right for you during pregnancy.

Natural Prenatal Vitamins

Nature Made Prenatal Vitamins are natural and made to be easily digested.
Nature Made Prenatal Vitamins are natural and made to be easily digested. | Source

Cost of Prenatal Vitamins

Most prenatal vitamins come in over the counter forms and can range from $5.00-$30.00 for a monthly or bi-monthly supply. There are both brand name and generic, along with a variety of supplements made especially for pregnant women.

Some doctors may prescribe a prenatal vitamin with DHA, Omega-3s, and higher amounts of the usual vitamins and minerals. These vitamins tend to be a bit more expensive than the over the counter versions. If you can afford it (some insurance plans don't cover these) and they don't make you sick, they may be worth it. It is not necessary to have prescription, but if it makes you feel more comfortable, go for it.

Prenatal Vitamin Ingredients

Not all prenatal vitamins are the same. Many come in capsule form while others are liquid or gummy vitamins. Some are natural while others contain man made ingredients.

The most important thing to consider when choosing which kind of prenatal vitamin to take is the ingredients in the vitamin. If the vitamin doesn't have the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals (see chart below), it may not be doing the job necessary to help you maintain a healthy pregnancy or to help the baby grow as best as he or she can.

Below is information about why the ingredients are vital during pregnancy.

Prenatal Vitamin Ingredients

Vitamin or Mineral
Recommended Amount
Vitafusion Daily Vitamin
Folic Acid
400 mcg
400 mcg
Vitamin D
400 IU
800 IU
Calcium
200-300 mcg
0
Vitamin C
70 mg
30 mg
Thiamine
3 mg
0
Riboflavin
2 mg
0
Niacin
20 mg
10 mg
Vitamin B-12
6 mcg
12 mcg
Vitamin E
10 mg
10 mg
Zinc
15 mg
0
Iron
17 mg
0
Recommended prenatal vitamin ingredients as per WebMD, compared to a regular daily vitamin.

Good Prenatal Vitamin

A good prenatal vitamin will have all of the necessary vitamins and minerals listed in the chart above. Read the labels!
A good prenatal vitamin will have all of the necessary vitamins and minerals listed in the chart above. Read the labels! | Source

Prenatal Vitamins with DHA

Did you take prenatal vitamins with DHA during pregnancy?

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Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy

It is important to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. Each of the vitamins and minerals helps to support the nutritional needs of the baby and the mother. Here is what each vitamin and mineral in a prenatal vitamin does:

  • Folic Acid. Helps to reduce the risk of neural tubal defects, especially in early pregnancy.
  • Iron. Supports the increase of blood volume in the mother and supports healthy growth of the baby and placenta.
  • Calcium. Helps to promote strong bones, healthy heart, nerves, and muscles.
  • Vitamin D. Helps to maintain levels of calcium in the body.
  • Vitamin C. Supports the immune system and helps to heal and repair tissues and cells.
  • Thiamine. Works to change carbohydrates into energy.
  • Vitamin E. Works as an antioxidant.
  • Riboflavin. Helps with bone, nerve, and muscle development.
  • Niacin. Works to change calories into energy.
  • Zinc. Supports a healthy immune system and helps with the rapid cell growth.

Of course, all of these vitamins and minerals must be taken in proper amounts. Too much of any of them is not safe nor good for the baby. Too little of them can cause problems as well. By taking a prenatal vitamin that has the recommended amounts of all of them, you can be sure you're getting the amounts that are just right for your pregnant body.

Liquid Prenatal Vitamins

Like the chewable vitamins, liquid prenatal vitamins are often better for those who cannot swallow a pill or capsule. These vitamins are fast acting as they don't need to break down as much as a solid vitamin.

Chewable Prenatal Vitamins

Taking a chewable vitamin may be easier than swallowing a pill or capsule for some women. On the other hand, some chewables have a very strong taste that may upset morning sickness. If you don't like the strong taste, try a gummy vitamin, but beware: some of the gummy vitamins don't contain all of the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Prenatal Vitamins with DHA

Many vitamins are now accompanied with a DHA supplement. DHA is important for the brain, eyes, and central nervous system and their development. It may also help with postnatal depression for mothers. Ask your doctor if it is right for you.

Organic Prenatal Vitamins

Organic vitamins are available for those who do not want to ingest man-made ingredients. Often-times, these vitamins are labelled as 'natural'. Read the labels carefully and make sure they still have the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Prenatal Vitamins Side Effects

Side Effect
Solution
Nausea
Find a vitamin that doesn't have a strong taste and is easy to swallow
Constipation (from Iron)
Increase your intake of fiber and water
Gas or cramps
Increase water intake and take with a meal
Discoloration of urine
Increase water intake
Allergic reaction
Immediately contact your doctor
With any prenatal vitamin, there may be side effects. Many doctors recommend a children's vitamin if the prenatal vitamins do not work for you.

Side Effects of Prenatal Vitamins

The side effect from prenatal vitamins that most plagues pregnant women is nausea. Sometimes, the taste or smell of them can make you sick; other times the vitamins irritate your stomach. If the vitamins you're taking bother you, ask if you can switch brands or take a children's chewable vitamin.

Another side effect from the vitamins is constipation, which is caused by iron. To combat this, drink plenty of water and increase your fiber intake.

Some women may have an allergic reaction to prenatal vitamins. If this happens to you, contact your doctor immediately and refrain from taking the vitamins.

Postnatal Supplements

Taking iron after giving birth helps to restore blood volume after losing a lot of blood.
Taking iron after giving birth helps to restore blood volume after losing a lot of blood. | Source

Prenatal Vitamins After Pregnancy

You can continue to take prenatal vitamins after your pregnancy. After giving birth, your body needs help restoring tissues and cells, and prenatal vitamins help with just that. They also support your weakened immune system, help with the massive blood loss, and help with breastfeeding by providing enough calcium and iron.

Your doctor may recommend a separate iron supplement to boost your levels of iron. If that is the case, you will also want to increase your fiber intake or take a stool softener as iron can cause constipation.

Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Just like everything else you put into your body, you need to be careful about what prenatal vitamins you take and when you take them. Be informed and know what is right for you. Taking prenatal vitamins before, during, and after pregnancy helps to ensure that you and your baby are getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to support healthy growth and birth.

┬ęThePracticalMommy

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    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      Ashuiadetroit, speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your prenatal vitamins. He/she may be able to prescribe something that won't make you sick. Best wishes!

    • profile image

      aushiadetroit 3 years ago

      The doctor gave me some blue prenatal pill I don't want too take it in get sick

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      Hi Meg, if you ate a balanced diet before seeing the doctor and if you're taking them now, your baby should be just fine. Consider all of the women who never take them yet have healthy babies! Speak with your doctor if you still have concerns. Congrats, and best wishes!

    • profile image

      meg 3 years ago

      Im almost in my 3rd month of bein pregnant and im just now able to start the prenatals due to not bein able to see a doc bc of the holidays..do you think the baby will still be ok even with me starting them so late?

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 3 years ago from United States

      bigboss, you should take them every day, right up until you have a baby. They won't hurt. Just make sure they contain folic acid, which is vital for your baby's development.

    • profile image

      bigboss 3 years ago

      Ive been trying to get pregnant i will be trying those gummy prenatal. Vitamins hopefully they work ...but idk how long to take them for

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      prettynutjob30, yes, they are recommended when you're trying to conceive as I said above. They help your body prepare for the task of taking care of a baby during pregnancy.

      Thanks for reading!

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      I was told by a friend that taking prenatal vitamins are good for women trying to conceive as well because they are a complete source of just about every vitamin. Great hub, voted up, more and shared.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      lee, it depends what you're taking them for. If you're taking them because you might become pregnant in the near future, then it's perfectly fine. If you're just taking them for the sake of taking them, you may want to consider speaking with your doctor first or finding another daily vitamin that may better meet your nutritional needs.

    • profile image

      lee 4 years ago

      is takein prenatal vitamins with minerals for women before during & after pregnancy ok to take not being pregnant

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
      Author

      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      LaciKomula, oh, there's so much husbands don't understand about pregnancy! ;) There definitely are side effects with prenatal vitamins; I got very nauseous when I took the ones the doctor prescribed for me. Sometimes, they're just too much for our systems, especially when we're battling morning sickness at the same time. Plus, the added iron can make you constipated. Fun, right?

      Congrats on your third baby! I hope all goes well for you. Thanks for reading. :)

    • LaciKomula profile image

      LaciKomula 4 years ago from Indiana

      Ugh I hate taking prenatal vitamins, but I do and will continue to do so. I tried to tell my husband there were some side effects, but he just laughed, you'd think he'd listen with this being out third child. Maybe I can get him to read this too :D

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      teaches12345, yeah, there are some unpleasant side effects, even from prenatal vitamins. The worst one for me was the nausea. Who needs that when you already have morning sickness?

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I think this hub is right on with what it takes to have a healthy baby. Great advice and information to know for the mom-to-be. I didn't knoow there were side effects, also a good add to the topic.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image
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      Marissa 4 years ago from United States

      april holland, that's great that you have been taking prenatal vitamins since before your pregnancy. Best of luck to you in the pregnancy, and thanks for commenting! :D

    • april holland profile image

      April Savage 4 years ago from Florida

      So true! Love this article, I am pregnant with my third child now and I am grateful I started taking prenatal months ago!! Great article!!

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