Pregnancy

Are Prenatal Vitamins Necessary During Pregnancy?

Are Prenatal Vitamins Necessary During Pregnancy?

Key Takeaways

  • Prenatal vitamins not only cater to the needs of the fetus, but also benefit the needs of the mother as well.
  • Mothers should continue a healthy diet while taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Prenatal vitamins are not meant to substitute healthy foods in a mother's diet.
  • Some prenatal vitamins come with mild side effects, like nausea.

Vitamin supplements that are taken before, during, and after pregnancy are known as prenatal vitamins. These vitamins are similar to multivitamin supplements, but specifically cater to the nutritional needs of expecting mothers. It goes without saying that pregnant women are often encouraged to eat a variety of high-quality foods in large quantities; yet, vitamin supplements will help to bridge the nutritional gap in an expecting mother's diet, if the vitamins are attainable. Prenatal vitamins contain a number of minerals and vitamins. The most important components in prenatal vitamins are folic acid, iron, and calcium, which play a major role in the development and health of the fetus. Prenatal vitamins also supply the necessary nutrients the expectant mother needs.

Folic acid is very important to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus. These defects can lead to serious brain and spinal cord injuries for the child. Iron prevents anemia, and is vital for the growth and development of a healthy fetus. Vitamin supplements are also found to reduce the risk of having an underweight newborn. Calcium is important for expecting mothers, as it prevents the loss of bone density. The developing fetus depends on calcium from the mother to grow its bones. Prenatal vitamins are also important and provide other nutrients that may be lacking in the normal diet of the mother.

What should an expecting mother pay attention to when choosing a prenatal vitamin? The vitamins that an expecting mother should consume are folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin C, Zinc, copper, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, vitamin E, and vitamin D. However, one should always remember that prenatal vitamins are never a substitute for a healthy diet. In some cases, doctors may prescribe a specific type of vitamin supplement based on the needs of the expecting mother.

Ideally one should start taking prenatal vitamins before conception. This is because the neural tube of the fetus develops during the first month of pregnancy, a woman may even know she is pregnant. Prenatal vitamins should be taken throughout the pregnancy. In some cases, doctors may suggest to continue the vitamin supplements even after delivery, especially if you are breastfeeding.

Prenatal vitamins may present several side effects in some women. Some women experience queasiness and nausea while taking these supplements. In such cases, one can try to take them with a snack before going to bed. If certain supplements cause constipation, the expecting mother should try to drink plenty of fluids and incorporate more fiber in her diet.