Prenatal Vitamins and Pregnancy
Prenatal vitamins are one of the most important vitamins that you take throughout your pregnancy. Ideally, you should start taking prenatal vitamins when you are trying to conceive a baby. By taking prenatal vitamins while you are trying to conceive, you are preparing your body for the challenging task that lies ahead. Some experts believe that taking prenatal vitamins before you are pregnant might actually reduce your risk of a miscarriage after you become pregnant.
Taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy is not always possible for some people, but taking them during pregnancy is essential. Prenatal vitamins contain one of the most important nutrients that a new mother needs and that is folic acid or folate. By taking in extra folic acid, you lower your chances of your baby being born with an incomplete spinal column which is known as spina bifida. In order for your baby to be protected, it is imperative that folic acid is taken in the first four weeks of fetal development.
This can be a problem for women who do not take prenatal vitamins before they are pregnant. Most of the time, women do not know they are pregnant until after they missed their period which is about two weeks after conception. This is why if you are of child bearing age, you should make it a habit of taking folic acid even if you are not planning to become pregnant because not all pregnancies are planned.
You can still get your folic acid in food. Folic acid is added to many breads and pastas and is found in dark green and orange fruits as well as vegetables. Keep in mind though that taking a daily supplement of folic acid offers more protection from spina bifida then eating the same amount of folic acid in food.
While you are pregnant you should aim to take at least 600 mcg of folic acid a day. If you have had a baby with a neural tube defect, you will have to take 4000 mcg or 4 milligrams of folic acid every day, starting at least a month before you get pregnant. Of course, check with your doctor before any new supplements.
Some women report that they can not take their prenatal vitamins especially in their first trimester. Women who suffer from morning sickness and food aversions find that they can not eat much food. Taking a prenatal on an empty stomach can leave you feeling sick and queasy which is why so many women in the first trimester do not take them. Another reason some women report upset stomachs is due to the high iron level that some prenatal vitamins have. Not only could this cause an upset stomach, this can also lead to constipation which can already be a problem for some pregnant women.
If you find that you can not take your prenatal vitamins, talk to your doctor to see if he can give you a vitamin with less iron or give you a folic acid supplement instead. The worst thing you could do is not take anything, especially during those first few weeks.