When you are pregnant, so much of the baby’s development and growth is dependent on what you eat. This applies throughout the three major stages of pregnancy, being, the first, second and third trimester. Yet, it is difficult to get all the nutrients you and your baby require. Even if you eat a wide range of foods including vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, and grains among others, you are still not getting the essential vitamins and nutrients. Prenatal vitamins are advised for women who are nursing, who are pregnant, and who are trying to conceive. Prenatal supplements ensure that you are getting the right amount of certain crucial vitamins and minerals.
Moreover, prenatal supplements are even more imperative for women with pregnancy issues, health complications, or dietary limitations. This includes women:
- Having twins or higher multiples
- Who have had gastric bypass surgery
- Who has a certain chronic disease
- Having an eating disorder
- Who have certain blood disorders
- One who smoke or abuse other substances
- Who has a food intolerance
- Who are vegetarians
How are Prenatal Supplements Different from Other Health Supplements?
As compared to standard adult multivitamins, prenatal supplements contain more iron and folic acid.
- Iron helps with the growth and development of the baby. Moreover, it also helps prevent anemia that lowers the count of healthy blood cells in the blood.
- Folic acid ensures to avoid conditions like neural tube defects that can cause severe abnormalities in the spinal cord and brain of the developing fetus.
According to health experts, prenatal supplements can help reduce the risk of having a baby who is small for his/her gestational age.
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Do You Need to be Concerned about these Nutrients?
Iron is required to make red blood cells. When women are pregnant, they gain more blood mass. An average woman needs 18mg of iron per day compared to men who only require 8mg. On the other hand, the daily iron requirement for pregnant women is about 27mg, especially during the last trimester when the fetus starts storing iron to last for the first few months of life. Pregnant women become iron deficient because the baby starts taking whatever iron it requires.
Further, folic acid is the primary nutrient in prenatal supplements as it decreases the risk of neural tube defects. The risk of neural tube defects is the highest during the first trimester, particularly during the first few weeks. This is why health professionals advice taking prenatal supplements three months before conception. The required daily dosage of folate for pregnant women is 0.4-0.8mg. However, it is easy to get the required dosage from food, even from folate-rich foods like liver, asparagus, and spinach. Hence, supplementation is necessary regardless of diet.
Prepare Your Body Before Conceiving
You can prepare your body before conception. Doctors and health professionals advice aspiring mothers to prepare their bodies for the conception of the baby. Having large amounts of folate in the body before conceiving is a healthy way to decrease the risk of neural defects and enhance the growth and development of the fetus.
Prenatal supplements are crucial to the overall health of women, and you don’t have to be pregnant to take these supplements. You can also take these vitamins after giving birth. Prenatal supplements are daily multivitamins that are safe to consume for both men and women, but there might be specific side effects that can cause complications in pregnant women.
Dangers or Side Effects of Prenatal Supplements
Side effects are always hovering when it comes to taking any supplement or medication. The most common side effects that pregnant women experience when taking prenatal supplements are constipation and nausea. Hence, the doctors prescribe prenatal supplements along with vitamin C. Doctors say that the symptoms and signs of side effects can be managed or reduced by changing the brand or form of the medication or adjusting the dosage, setting, and time in which the supplement is taken. In most cases, these supplements are taken along with food or at night before bed.
Women may experience uneasiness after taking the supplement. So to prevent such issues:
- Include physical activity in your daily routine until and unless your health care provider says no
- Include more fiber in your diet
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Ask your physician about the recommended dosage
When it comes to prenatal supplements, the nutrient requirements are tailored according to pregnancy that includes nutrients like iron, folic acid, DHA, Vitamin D, and calcium. Hence, it is easy to distinguish prenatal supplements from your regular multivitamin or vitamin-specific supplements. Moreover, prenatal supplements consist of low amounts of fat-soluble vitamin A and are classified as dietary supplements.
Only take prenatal supplements prescribed by your concerned doctor. Your doctor might be able to prescribe you the supplement according to your requirements. In case, if you feel nauseated after taking the supplement, immediately talk to your health care provider.