Prenatals, are they really necessary? We believe they are! Bringing a brand new baby into this world can be stressful (to say the least) and when it comes to mama, you can start taking care of your baby even before you become pregnant. Say what?
If mama has the ability to take care of her own body even before she gets pregnant, she is just setting up more possibilities for a healthy baby.
Prenatals are not a miracle pill. You can do everything in your power to take care of your health but things might not always go as planned.
Don’t let that stop you from trying! By the end of this blog, we hope you have a better understanding of prenatal vitamins and their purpose.
What are Prenatal Vitamins?
A prenatal vitamin is made specifically for a pregnant woman’s needs. Packed with vitamins and minerals that can help the baby grow happy and healthy while taking care of mama as well.
The Purpose of a Prenatal Vitamin
The purpose of prenatal vitamins is not to replace a healthy diet or a lifestyle of exercise. The purpose is to support and add to a healthy lifestyle.
Women who are you trying to conceive and/or are newly pregnant should focus on:
- A healthy diet (full of necessary nutrients)
- Daily exercise
- Quality sleep
- Avoiding high levels of stress
Prenatals often include vitamins and minerals that pregnant women are at risk of being low on and need more of to help their baby’s health. I’ll get into specific ingredients a little later.
Most commonly, women start taking a prenatal vitamin once they find out they are pregnant.
But they also might be going through morning sickness that often comes with pregnancy, which makes eating healthy just about impossible.
It turns into survival mode.
If you’re throwing up all day, the last thing on your mind is making sure you’re eating your fruits and veggies. Making sure you get your prenatal every day might be a little more doable.
What Should I Look for in a Prenatal Supplement?
At a minimum, your prenatal should contain folic acid, better yet, look for a prenatal with a natural or methylated form of folate like FOLINIC acid.
When you become pregnant your body switches into overdrive. After all, it’s now working to support two people, not just one.
Folate is used to make extra blood that is needed during your pregnancy.
It’s recommended that women consume 0.4-0.8mg of folic acid a day from fortified foods or supplements. There is no limit on folate from food.
You’ll often hear folic acid and folate (or folinic) used interchangeably.
Folic acid is the synthesized version that is commonly found in processed foods and supplements. Some women can’t convert this synthetic version properly and thus can’t absorb the much-needed nutrients.
That’s why a natural or methylated form of folate is preferred. Folate is a natural form of active folate and can be found in whole food sources and some supplements.
Taking folate prior to and during pregnancy can improve neurodevelopment in children. The CDC has reported that between 50-70% of birth defects could be prevented each year if the mom took enough folic acid daily. THAT’S A BIG DEAL.
Other ingredients to look for in a prenatal or multivitamin:
- Calcium: Bone health
- Iron: Helps your blood deliver oxygen to your baby
- DHA: Type of Omega-3 fatty acid that promotes brain health during pregnancy and early life
- Vitamin B6: Helps with upset stomach and vomiting, energy for mama, and fetal development
- Ginger: Helps alleviate symptoms of morning sickness
When Should I Start Taking a Prenatal?
If possible, it’s best to start taking a prenatal vitamin prior to conception (at least a month before), especially one that includes folic acid.
Birth defects prevented with the use of folic acid happen within the beginning stages of pregnancy (usually before you even know you’re pregnant).
Nobody expects you to be a psychic and predict when you will get pregnant. So, the safest bet is to start taking a prenatal when you come of childbearing age.
Many prenatal vitamins will plainly state on their labels that they are recommended for use before, during, and after pregnancy! Keep an eye out for that.
Say you get pregnant and you haven’t been taking a prenatal, don’t panic! Do your research and find a good prenatal vitamin to start taking. Take the bottle in when you visit your doctor to ensure it’s the best bet for you!
Prenatal Benefits for Postnatal Life
A prenatal supplement is made specifically for pregnant women’s needs.
Since half of the pregnancies in the United States aren’t planned, it’s recommended to at least be taking a folic acid supplement and/or eat more folate-rich foods to ensure your possible future baby is protected during those early stages.
Prenatal vitamins can also supplement nursing mamas who need plenty of nutrients for breastfeeding.
Protecting your baby starts with taking care of your body and you can never start too soon.
Happy Baby. Happy Mama!