A Bit About Those Horse Pills, I Mean, Prenatals

I was one of the lucky ones and had no morning sickness when I was pregnant. What I did have was a WICKED gag reflex and I'd puke at the drop of a hat. And sometimes when you're preggers and you puke or sneeze, you, um, well ... pee a little. SO EMBARRASSING! 

Anyway, I only puked when I had to swallow the gigantic prenatal vitamins my midwife prescribed. After three tries, I wearily called the practice and begged for something else. Their advice? Chewable kids' vitamins. YES WAY! And TADA! No more puking! But I also had to make sure I was getting the right ones so that I had enough folic acid and iron during my pregnancies. One of my best friend's morning sickness was cured when she STARTED taking prenatals. See? Every woman is different. Like snowflakes. Not that pregnant women are snowflakes but snowflakes are all different. Sheesh. Never mind.


What's in those prenatals anyway? Are they really necessary? Can you get along without them during any part of your pregnancy or should you make sure you take them religiously?

In order to get the folic acid, iron, and other nutrients you need, the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends women take a prenatal vitamin supplement daily. Of course, eating the right diet can provide all of those vitamins and nutrients for you (and no gagging on large pills!), but some women have problems getting all of the right food sources. For example, leafy greens, beans, and citrus fruit take care of many of those needs, but they may also cause massive heartburn (try papaya juice or peppermint tea. TRUST ME) or abdominal distension (that's a fancy word for gas). So for some, it's just easier to take the vitamin. Of course, you should talk to your practitioner about taking a prenatal if you are already taking a daily vitamin or certain medications.

So what's in them? Well, do your research ahead of time but most prenatal vitamins have the following (or should):

  • Folic Acid: Helps prevent neural tube defects.
  • Iron: For red blood cells and oxygen for your baby. Also helps you not poo (try fiber).
  • Vitamin A: healthy skin and eyesight. CARROTS!
  • Calcium: Helps build strong bones and teeth. So you can ruin them later with candy.
  • Vitamin C: Healthy teeth and bones and helps you absorb iron. You know, so you can't poo.
  • Vitamin B6: Red blood cells and use of protein and fat.
  • Vitamin B12: Two times the B6. KIDDING! It's for nervous system health.
  • Folate: Helps produce blood and protein and helps enzymes develop.

There are other vitamins and minerals but these are the most important. Again, talk to your practitioner about what's right for you. Excess of some vitamins and minerals can actually be harmful (too much of a good thing). Happy swallowing!

What has been your experience with prenatal vitamins? 

Image via Marj Hatzell

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