One of the first things a doctor will do for a pregnant woman is to prescribe prenatal vitamins. However, if you are trying to get pregnant your best bet is to begin the prenatal vitamins on your own. You can find many reputable brands over the counter that will offer the much needed nutrients, especially folate, essential to your baby’s early development. The best case scenario would be to begin taking prenatal vitamins 3 months before you plan to conceive.
If you are one of them millions of women who find themselves pregnant without trying or planning to do so, there is no need to worry. Prenatal vitamins are intended to ensure that both YOU and your baby have all the nutrients needed to stay healthy and vibrant during pregnancy. When choosing a prenatal vitamin it is necessary to find one that contains all the standard vitamins, A, B, C, D and E as well as iron, zinc, folate, calcium and riboflavin. In early pregnancy the most important nutrient is folate or folic acid which is recognized as being a preventative to neural tub defects.
The FDA recommends that any woman of child bearing age take folic acid every day. It is difficult for the body to store folic acid however it is crucial to the early development of the fetus. Often, neural tube defects like spinal bifida and other spinal abnormalities have already occurred by the time the fetus is 8-9 weeks of age. For many women this around the same time that they find out they are pregnant. Folic acid also helps to reduce incidences of cleft palate, congenital heart defects, limb abnormalities as well as many common urinary tract defects. Most women, prior to pregnancy suffer from a deficiency in this nutrient, so taking it is just as important for you as it is in the event that you become pregnant.
Prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace a healthy diet. Remember that your absorption of nutrients and minerals is obtained more quickly by consuming foods that are rich in vitamins. Since so many women suffer from morning sickness, lack of appetite and even vomiting during the first trimester it is more important that ever to make the most of what you eat. Meats, fruits, vegetables and dairy products are healthy building blocks for you and your fetus. If you are unable to eat large meals try to snack through 6-8 times a day on food that offers more than empty calories.
There are many women who take their prenatal vitamins only to find that they feel extremely nauseated afterwards. If this happens to be you, then take the vitamins right before bed rather than in the morning by drinking some milk to coat your stomach. Often, iron in prenatal vitamins can cause constipation as well. If you are constipated, ask your doctor about another prenatal vitamin that may have less iron. Realize of course that pregnancy and anemia often go hand in hand and at some point you may have to eat green leafy vegetables, organ meats and other foods in order to retain your iron counts. Low iron during pregnancy can be extremely dangerous.
The average cost of these vitamins ranges from $10 to $45. There are many natural food companies and herbal shops that sell all natural, organic vitamins that come with a pretty hefty price tag. You should use caution when taking any of these blends, as there are many herbs that can actually cause you to have contractions or miscarry. If you are purchasing a drug store variety, check the labels to make sure that you won’t have to take 2 or even 3 pills in order to get your recommended intake. Most prescription plans also cover some prenatal vitamins.
Taking prenatal vitamins helps to prepare you and your baby for labor and delivery as well. It is most desired to be in optimal shape when you plan to conceive and your immune system and organ functions will benefit dramatically from prenatal vitamins. You may notice that your hair and nails are growing faster than ever and that both are much stronger. This is proof of how vitamin deficient you were before hand. Once you deliver, your doctor will recommend that you continue taking your prenatal vitamins (especially if you are breastfeeding) for at least three months. This helps to keep your energy levels up so that you can remain healthy and take care of your newborn.
If you are thinking about getting pregnant, your best bet is to begin preparing your body for baby. Find prenatal vitamins and get plenty of exercise. Of course eating right is also essential and being at a healthy weight will lessen risks during pregnancy. Another essential component is to make sure that you have quit smoking and that you do not partake in drinking alcoholic beverages which can also be detrimental to your baby’s development.