9 Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2023, According to Doctors

When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?

Dr. Rankins suggests starting prenatal vitamins three months before you hope to conceive. Thats because women who take supplemental folic acid — a key component of good prenatal vitamins — before they get pregnant can reduce the risk of neural tube defects, which affect the brain and spine.

However, it’s okay if you begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you find out you’re pregnant because some pregnancies may be unplanned or mistimed, meaning you wouldn’t have taken them by conception. Dr. says, “Don’t beat yourself up, just take them as soon as you can.” Rankins.

Just like you can take prenatals before pregnancy, you can also take them after delivery. Prenatal vitamins can actually help fill gaps in your diet and provide essential nutrients when youre breastfeeding, says Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. You can talk to your healthcare provider about continuing to take a prenatal after you give birth to see what is best for you and for how long you should take it.

What are the different types of prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins can be broadly categorized into the following groups, which mostly correspond to how you typically take a multivitamin.

  • Capsules, softgels and tablets: “If a woman wants to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals in one prenatal vitamin, a pill that you swallow whole is the best choice,” says Purdie. There are three types of pills you can take, starting with capsules, which break down in the stomach to avoid any bitter tastes. Softgels are coated in gelatin and often the easiest to swallow. However, since theyre usually made from gelatin, any vegetarians and vegans will want to check if theyre vegan-friendly. Finally, tablets are made of powdered ingredients mixed together that can be coated or uncoated. You might be able to taste any bitterness with these pills — which could be a drawback if youre already experiencing nausea — but they are the only pills that can be split in half or crushed and mixed with food.
  • Liquids, powders and gummy vitamins: If youre pill-averse, you may want to try one of these alternatives for your prenatal vitamins. “For women experiencing nausea, a chewable or liquid vitamin may be a better option, but these may be missing some of the above essential nutrients,” says Dr. Purdie. “It is important to read the labels to see if you would need to take an additional supplement.”
  • You might want to inquire with your doctor about prescription prenatals if you are unable to manage the side effects of over-the-counter pregnancy aids. Both over-the-counter and prescription vitamins will contain all the necessary nutrients, but their formulations may differ. For example, a prescription vitamin may contain iron, which reduces constipation, or it may contain a stool softener to ease constipation or vitamin B6 to ease nausea. Purdie. But there is no need to rush to the doctor if you can tolerate the OTC versions. “Generally, sticking with an over-the-counter vitamin is easier, more convenient, and perhaps even less expensive,” Dr Rankins adds.

    Do prenatal vitamins have side effects?

    Common side effects of prenatal vitamins include constipation and nausea.

    Prenatal vitamins with vitamin B6 have been shown to reduce morning sickness during pregnancy, according to Dr Minkin. Nevertheless, some prenatal vitamins may have the opposite effect and worsen morning sickness. If so, talk to your doctor about switching to one that contains more vitamin B6. ”.

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