Not much about pregnancy is easy, but at least one thing can be. Prenatal vitamins are an easy way to supplement your body’s need for important nutrients during pregnancy, and they can offer many great benefits. Finding a good prenatal vitamin is a very helpful first step — even if you follow a balanced and healthy diet, the extra support can be beneficial.
Although they are helpful to take at any point, timing can make a big difference in amplifying the impact they can have. Here at iwi, we want to help you understand the best ways to care for yourself and your baby, so we are happy to provide some tips to guide your decision on when you should start taking prenatal vitamins.
Why Should Pregnant Women Take Prenatal Vitamins?
During pregnancy, your body has a lot to handle. While supporting your baby's growth, your body needs to provide important nutrients to develop the baby's cells and organs and make extra blood to generate the placenta and transport those nutrients. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent way to obtain many nutrients needed to support these changes from one convenient source and support an overall healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins are formulated with nutrients that are especially important during pregnancy, like calcium, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D. These nutrients help promote the healthy growth and development of your baby while also giving you the nutrients you need to remain strong and healthy during all weeks of pregnancy.
Pregnancy is taxing on your body, so prenatal vitamins are great for restoring the nutrients you normally need, which your body is now redirecting to your baby. Receiving the nutrients in a prenatal vitamin may also help soothe some unpleasant symptoms, like nausea and morning sickness, that come during pregnancy.
How Is a Prenatal Vitamin Different from a Daily Multivitamin?
There are several important nutrients that women should obtain daily, but when supporting the development of a new baby, the body’s need for certain nutrients, like iron and calcium, increases greatly. Prenatal multivitamins are formulated specifically to target those needs and provide nutrients that are especially important for a baby’s development.
Although a multivitamin can provide a wide range of helpful nutrients, they are formulated more for a standard daily recommended intake, whereas during pregnancy, the daily recommended intake for many important vitamins, like calcium and iron, is higher. When pregnant, all your nutrient intake goes to the growing baby first, so you need the extra nutrition.
When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Although prenatal vitamins are highly beneficial during pregnancy, timing is everything. To maximize the benefits of these vitamins, you want to be sure to take them at the appropriate time during your pregnancy. As you consider the best time to start taking prenatal vitamins, you should keep a few things in mind.
1. Get a Head Start
Ideally, you should start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you start trying to get pregnant, meaning you should take them preconception. Experts recommend taking a prenatal vitamin at least one month before pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins do not have any effect on helping you conceive, but they are helpful to already have in your system once you do.
Nutrient levels in the body can take some time to start to build up, especially if you have any nutrient deficiencies, so taking them early helps your body work up the necessary nutrients to support the baby before it needs them.
2. Take Them as Soon as Possible
If pregnancy happens faster than you expected, you still have the opportunity to make up for lost time. It is never too late to start taking a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy. However, to maximize their benefits, you should take prenatal vitamins as soon as you know you are pregnant.
The baby starts developing right away, so the extra nutrients are immediately helpful for you and your baby. The development of the neural tube, which becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord, happens within the first month of pregnancy, so it is important to start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible to support this crucial process and get all the nutrients your baby needs.
3. Don’t Overdo It
Even if you do not start taking your prenatal vitamin right away, you should not try to overcompensate by taking extra doses once you start. Once you start taking your prenatal vitamin, you should follow the dosage instructions for the best results. At the same time, when you start taking your prenatal vitamin, you can use it to replace your daily multivitamin.
If you are concerned about needing some nutrients more than others, you should talk to your healthcare provider, who can help you determine the best route to receiving the nutrients you need.
4. Do Not Stop After Your Baby Is Born
Although prenatal vitamins are highly beneficial during pregnancy, they do not stop being beneficial once you give birth. You continue to pass on important nutrients to the baby when breastfeeding, so you should continue to take a prenatal vitamin until you stop.
When breastfeeding, you still provide the baby with several key nutrients, like DHA and folic acid, so it is best to stick with a prenatal vitamin rather than a general multivitamin since they better account for these needs.
5. Know What To Look for
Before taking prenatal vitamins, you should know what nutrients and ingredients to look for in your search for the right supplement to fill nutritional gaps and ensure your wellness is supported properly. This process should begin early so you can find the right supplement and start taking it in time to support the baby (and yourself).
The nutrients a baby receives throughout its development impact health even past birth, so this process is important! One of the essential nutrients to look for is folic acid or folate, one of the B vitamins important for a baby’s cognitive development.
Another crucial nutrient during pregnancy is DHA omega-3. DHA plays a very important role in developing a baby’s brain and eyes, making up the foundation of many cells. The body does not naturally produce EPA and DHA omega-3son its own, so it is important to obtain them through supplementation. Many supplements do not contain omega-3 fatty acids, so you may need to obtain them separately.
Fortunately, though, that is not always the case.
For a prenatal vitamin that is rich in omega-3s, folic acid, and a range of other important nutrients like vitamin D, try iwi’s prenatal supplement. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or OB/GYN to discuss what may be most helpful for you in a prenatal vitamin. Your health history and lifestyle may prompt specific needs.
Take a Prenatal Vitamin That Works
Ultimately, the right prenatal vitamin is a huge boost during pregnancy, helping to replenish the nutrients that your body is passing on and providing extra support for the baby’s growth and development. Although it is never too late to start taking one, you should start taking a prenatal vitamin as early as possible, even before you start trying for a baby. At iwi, we are here to help.
When you start taking your prenatal vitamin, you want to find one that provides you and your baby with the best possible combination of nutrients. Fortunately, you do not have to look much farther than iwi’s prenatal supplement, which is rich in essential omega-3s, folic acid, and iron to support you and your baby’s health.
When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins? | Cleveland Clinic