Everyone knows how important getting the right vitamins and minerals is during pregnancy. Most women have to take a daily supplement although some do okay with diet changes. I recommend using both methods combined. Baby takes a LOT out of mum, so it’s best to be as healthy as possible from the get-go.
But when is the best time to start taking prenatal vitamins? Most women that I have talked to said that they didn’t start until after they found out they were pregnant. However, research indicates that the optimal time to start taking supplements is actually 3 months BEFORE you conceive!
It takes time for your body to reach the optimal nutritional status that supports a healthy pregnancy — that means starting a prenatal even before you stop birth control methods.
According to OBGYN Dr. Jason Rothbart, “most women don’t find out they are pregnant until around 4-7 weeks pregnant, which is past the first 28 days. In the first 28 days, the organs are rapidly forming. The neural tube (which becomes the central nervous system and vertebral column) is almost completely formed and closed by the end of 28 days.” The essential nutrient Folate helps promote healthy development neural tube.
Odds are that your diet is not giving you enough of the vitamins that you need to create a healthy and thriving human being
Prenatal vitamins are there to assist with that.
Reaching a healthy nutritional status requires consistent intake, which means a healthy mix of a good diet and vitamin supplementation. It’s important to reach and maintain these optimal nutrient levels before you’re pregnant, which takes months. Starting your prenatal early can have a long-term positive impact. For example, research shows that having sufficient levels of Vitamin D before pregnancy can support a healthy birth weight.
For some additional ways to naturally add nutrients to your diet, check out this blog post by Leigh Ann Dutton.
I recently had an appointment with my own OBGYN and she told me to get on prenatals immediately since we are trying to conceive. I have low stores of most vitamins and minerals anyway and all of my pregnancies have taken a huge toll on my body.
Not having the right levels of vitamins and minerals during a pregnancy can really cause major issues
Not only could it lead to a harder pregnancy for mum, it can also cause birth defects on the extreme side and on the mild side, it can set your baby up for a lifetime of depleted levels themselves.
Prenatal vitamins typically contain more folic acid and iron than do standard adult multivitamins. Here’s why:
- Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
- Iron supports the baby’s growth and development. Iron also helps prevent anemia, a condition in which blood has a low number of healthy red blood cells.
Not all prenatal vitamins include omega-3 fatty acids, which might help promote a baby’s brain development. If you don’t eat fish or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, your health care provider might recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements in addition to prenatal vitamins.
Calcium and vitamin D are important as well — especially during the third trimester, when your baby’s bones are rapidly growing and strengthening.
It also might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, iodine and copper.
Remember, prenatal vitamins are a complement to a healthy diet — not a substitute for good nutrition
Prenatal vitamins won’t necessarily meet 100 percent of your vitamin and mineral needs.
In addition, your health care provider might suggest higher doses of certain nutrients depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’ve given birth to a baby who has a neural tube defect, your health care provider might recommend a separate supplement containing a higher dose of folic acid — such as 4 milligrams (4,000 micrograms) — before and during any subsequent pregnancies.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, midwife, certified nutritionist or naturopath. I am not qualified to give medical advice and the following should not be viewed as such. You should always discuss medical questions and concerns with your doctor!