July 14, 2022 2:18 pm
Prenatal vitamins are vitamins designed to be taken during pregnancy, but they can also be beneficial for women trying to conceive.
If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, it’s a good idea to start preparing your body in advance. Taking steps to become the healthiest version of yourself before conceiving will improve the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Part of that preparation? Ensuring your body has the nutrients it needs to support a pregnancy and promote fetal growth and development.
What Prenatal Vitamins Are
Taking a prenatal vitamin, also sometimes called a prenatal multivitamin, is an important step toward promoting a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. These specialized vitamins, which are available by prescription and over the counter, are formulated to include nutrients that help promote growth and development.
Prenatals are different from your everyday multivitamin, even if you take one specifically for women’s health. That’s because your needs change during pregnancy, and you will need larger amounts of certain nutrients, including folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids and iodine.
Taking folic acid specifically is important since it helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine (known as neural tube defects) beginning in the earliest days of pregnancy. Folic acid, also called folate, is a type of B vitamin that’s essential for growth and development. While it can be found in food, most women do not get enough through their diet.
Because folic acid is such an important nutrient, experts recommend taking 400 mcg of the vitamin per day while trying to conceive. During pregnancy, prenatal vitamins often provide 600 mcg of folic acid or more.
It’s important to note that prenatals only contain nutrients, so they are not harmful in any way for women who are not pregnant. In fact, even men can take them.
Other Steps You Can Take to Prepare for Pregnancy
If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, your best first move is to schedule an appointment with your OB-GYN or primary care provider. A women’s health specialist can conduct a pre-pregnancy checkup, designed to help ensure you’re healthy enough to conceive and carry a pregnancy.
This checkup will also include tips and guidance for preparing for pregnancy. This may include a prescription for or recommendation to take prenatal vitamins, or at least a folic acid supplement, to prepare your body for conception.
Beyond taking a prenatal vitamin, your provider may also recommend you make some other lifestyle changes to ensure you’re at your healthiest. This may include cleaning up your eating habits. A healthy diet, filled with fruits and vegetables, is a good place to begin your journey to a healthy pregnancy.
In addition to simply making smart food choices, you might also want to consider increasing your intake of certain foods, such as tuna or salmon, which contain omega-3 fatty acids; leafy greens that are rich in folic acid; and low-fat dairy, a good source of calcium and vitamin D. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol.
Exercising regularly, prioritizing quality sleep, finding healthy ways to manage stress and not smoking are also steps to take to help prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.
Whether you’re thinking about planning a family or already expecting a new addition to the family, the Magnolia Women’s Center at Magnolia Regional Health Center offers the expert care you need.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center