Prenatal vitamins are important for every expectant mother, regardless of her current lifestyle, exercise plan, diet or situation. When you become pregnant, you grow a small human inside of you — which means your normal requirements for nutrients and vitamins will increase. While a change in your lifestyle is necessary to have a healthy pregnancy, prenatal vitamins are necessary, too.

But, if you’re new to pregnancy, or if you didn’t think that you were going to become pregnant, you may not be sure where to start when it comes to prenatal vitamins for pregnancy. There are a lot to choose from, and this is just one of many big decisions you’ll need to make in your nine months of pregnancy.

Fortunately, UnplannedPregnancy.com is here to help. Below, you’ll find the basics that you need to know about prenatal vitamins to start your pregnancy on a healthy note. However, remember that the information in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Only your personal obstetrician can give you the best guidance on recommended prenatal vitamins for your pregnancy.

What are Prenatal Vitamins?

You know that carrying a child during pregnancy requires you to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. But, no matter how healthy you eat, it is still highly recommended that you take good prenatal vitamins, as well. Your body requires a great deal of vitamins and minerals during these nine months of change, and doctors have identified prenatal vitamins as the best way to get the nutrients you need.

Prenatal vitamins include many different multivitamins and minerals, but only your obstetrician can tell you which are the best prenatal vitamins for your pregnancy. Keep this in mind: Prenatal vitamins are a complement to a healthy diet, not a replacement for it. You cannot get all the vitamins and minerals you need from prenatal pills; you must still eat a well-balanced diet to get the most of these medicines.

Ideally, expectant mothers will start taking prenatal vitamins before they conceive but, if you have just found out about your pregnancy, that’s okay, too. You’ll want to see your doctor to determine what the recommended prenatal vitamins for your situation are so you can start taking them as soon as possible.

What are the Best Prenatal Vitamins for Pregnancy?

As mentioned, the top prenatal vitamins for you will always be determined by your obstetrician. Certain women have specific nutritional needs, and your doctor knows best which will be the best prenatal vitamins for pregnancy in your situation.

However, regardless of your situation, there are a few widely recommended prenatal vitamins for expectant mothers:

  • Folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube birth defects
  • Calcium, which helps prevent an expectant mother from losing her own bone density as the baby uses calcium for its own bone growth
  • Iron, which helps blood carry oxygen to the mother and baby
  • Iodine, which reduces the chance of stunted physical growth, severe mental disability, deafness, miscarriage, and stillbirth

Many of the best prenatal vitamins will include all of these nutrients and more. The best over-the-counter prenatal vitamins will include all of the aforementioned vitamins, as well as Vitamins D, A, E.

Often, you will get what you need in purchasing over-the-counter prenatal vitamins, but in some cases, your doctor may recommend certain prescription prenatal vitamins. Again, this is why it’s so important to speak with your doctor before starting any vitamin or supplement routine.

What Else Should I Know About Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

Taking prenatal vitamins may seem simple enough as having one multivitamin pill every day, but that’s not the case. As with any medication, it’s important that you consult a doctor, because taking prenatal vitamins incorrectly can harm both you and your unborn baby.

If you take too much of them, prenatal vitamins for pregnancy can jeopardize your baby’s (and your own) health. Inappropriate amounts of synthetic vitamins can lead to you overdosing on a particular nutrient. There can be “too much of a good thing” when it comes to prenatal vitamins; side effects can be as small as diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps or as dangerous as permanent nerve damage and damage to your heart and bone health.

In addition, many expectant mothers experience side effects from their prenatal vitamins. This is completely normal. The most common side effects include nausea and constipation. Making sure you take your pills on a full stomach and drink plenty of water can help alleviate these symptoms during your pregnancy. If your side effects become worse or include other symptoms, don’t be afraid to mention it to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe alternative prenatal vitamins or adjust the vitamin levels you had previously been taking.

Remember: The best person to talk to about recommended prenatal vitamins for your pregnancy will always be your doctor. If you have any more questions about prenatal vitamins and nutrients, or any other aspects of a healthy pregnancy, please speak with your local obstetrician.