Your health is just as vital as your baby’s when you are expecting. A balanced diet, adequate rest, and medically supervised supplementation will ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and avoid issues like depression.
Prenatal vitamins contain a selection of vitamins and minerals that will help nourish a woman’s body and ensure the proper development of her growing baby. If you are a mom-to-be, here are some of the top reasons why you should be taking prenatal vitamins:
1. Prevent nutritional gaps
A nutritious diet composed of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and complex carbohydrates is the foundation of a healthy pregnancy. However, even though you may be making sure that you have a healthy diet, taking prenatal vitamins will help prevent any nutritional gaps that can have detrimental effects on your child.
Here are some specific instances where supplementation is highly recommended:
- If you want to optimize your pregnancy because you may not be getting the nutrients and vitamins you and your baby need from your diet alone
- If you are strictly following a specific diet, like a plant-based one
- If you have food allergies or intolerances, for example, when you are celiac or lactose intolerant
- If you are suffering from chronic stress
- If, after taking a blood test, you realize that you are suffering from a deficiency in a particular vitamin or mineral
- If you were taking hormonal birth control pills before your pregnancy
- If you experience hyperemesis gravidarum, a pregnancy complication characterized vomiting and severe nausea
It can be daunting to ensure that all your dietary needs are met during your pregnancy. Always consult with your doctor first to make sure that your diet can support healthy fetal development and determine whether or not you need supplementation.
2. Prevent neural tube defects
Prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid are necessary to prevent the occurrence of neural tube birth defects in your baby. These are conditions that impact the spinal cord and brain, and develop as early as 28 days after conception.
If you are planning to get pregnant, experts recommend taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily as soon as possible, even before actual conception, until the 12th week of your pregnancy.
However, if your unborn child is already suffering from a neural tube defect, make sure to first talk to your health care provider before taking folic acid supplements. A study has shown that taking a higher dose of folic acid supplements can be beneficial for you and your child, but effects vary on a case-to-case basis.
3. Prevent loss of bone density
Calcium is an essential mineral for pregnant women since it helps prevent the mother from experiencing bone density loss. It is also crucial for fetal growth, helping support healthy bone development, and proper muscular and vascular function. The recommended quantity for pregnant women is 1,000 mg a day.
Remember that inadequate calcium intake does not just lead to loss of bone density. It can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and other health conditions. Furthermore, without adequate calcium in your diet, your body will start taking it from your bones’ calcium stores to ensure that there is enough for your baby.
4. Prevent iron deficiency
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition where your body does not have sufficient healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to your body’s organs and tissues. During pregnancy, iron deficiency can lead to severe consequences for you and the baby, including the following:
- Higher risk of having a low birth weight baby
- Higher risk of premature birth or infant death immediately before or after birth
- Higher risk of developing postpartum depression
Because of these risks, it is recommended for expecting women to have an intake of 27 mg of iron every day. Iron supplements can help moms-to-be reduce their risk of developing iron deficiency and endangering their health and their baby.
A critical thing to keep in mind is that too much iron can also be harmful. Always consult with your physician first to ensure that you are taking the right amount. If you notice any side effects before or after consumption, make sure that you alert your health care provider immediately.
Prenatal vitamins are specifically designed to support childbearing women and healthy fetal growth. They contain essential vitamins and minerals that will encourage your baby’s proper development and prevent the occurrence of congenital defects.
However, you should not forget that prenatal vitamins also carry inherent risks. Before choosing a prenatal vitamin to take during your pregnancy, consult with a health care professional first. Your doctor will recommend the right kind and dosage of prenatal vitamins for you and your baby.