A balanced diet that provides all the nutrients you need is a vital aspect of good health, especially for expectant mums. Prenatal vitamins are meant to supplement any essential nutrients (which are necessary for the healthy development of the fetus) that are missing from the mother’s diet.
Although many doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins, they still carry certain risks. Before you start taking them, consult your doctor and keep yourself informed about their effects.
Here are some of the pros and cons of taking prenatal vitamins while you’re pregnant.
The Pros Of Taking Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy
The right prenatal vitamins can help ensure a healthier pregnancy by promoting a healthy environment for your baby’s growth, supplementing the nutrients that may be missing from your diet, and preventing nutritional deficiencies.
Promotes Healthy Fetal Development
Expectant mothers like you need to have the right amount of nutrients to ensure the healthy development of their baby. For instance, folic acid is necessary for the proper growth of the brain and the spinal cord and calcium ensures healthy muscular development.
Supplements A Less-Than-Perfect Diet
Some women don’t eat certain types of food, such as meat or dairy. These women would benefit the most from taking prenatal vitamins to supply their bodies with the essential nutrients that are missing from their usual diet. Pregnancy vitamins ensure that the fetus is getting all the nutrients it needs to grow and develop without problems.
The following are some examples of women who might find taking prenatal vitamins very useful:
- Strict vegetarians who don’t get enough iron in their meals.
- Women who don’t spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Women who don’t eat or drink dairy products that contain calcium, an essential nutrient for bone development.
Prevents Nutritional Deficiencies
Prenatal vitamins ensure that you stay healthy during pregnancy. Moreover, these supplements prevent the occurrence of nutritional deficiencies, which can adversely impact not only fetal development but your own health as well.
Some examples of nutritional deficiencies and their possible adverse effects on your baby are listed below:
- Folic acid deficiency – A deficiency in folic acid, a B vitamin often found in green leafy vegetables, can cause miscarriages, deformities such as cleft lip or palate, and heart disorders. It has also been associated with infants with low birth weights and those suffering from neural defects.
- Calcium deficiency – Babies who are calcium deficient have a higher tendency to develop osteoporosis when they’re older.
- Iron deficiency – Insufficient iron intake while you’re pregnant can cause miscarriages and contribute to certain conditions in your baby, such as low birth weight and anemia.
- Vitamin D deficiency – A deficiency in vitamin D can cause weak bones and low blood calcium in newborn babies.
The Cons Of Taking Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy
Sometimes, taking prenatal vitamins is not advisable especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition, are experiencing any side-effects from taking them, or when you find it difficult to remember to take them regularly.
Aggravates Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Prenatal vitamins are not advisable for pregnant women who are suffering from certain medical conditions, unless they get the thumbs-up from their doctor. Prenatal vitamins can cause the following effects on pre-existing medical conditions:
- Worsen kidney stones
- Increase bleeding risk
- Cause allergic reactions
- Cause adverse interactions with medication such as antibiotics and aspirin
Consult with your doctor to make sure that you and your baby are getting enough nutrients from your diet.
Causes Side Effects
Some of the most common side effects of prenatal vitamins are the following:
- Nausea – Never take your prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach to prevent nausea. If possible, take them at night so that you’re still sleeping when the nausea kicks in.
- Constipation – This is caused by the iron content of most prenatal vitamins.
- Colour or odour change in the urine – B vitamins are the usual culprit for this. Nonetheless, don’t be alarmed because these are quite harmless.
One of the most significant disadvantages of taking prenatal vitamins is that it can be difficult for you to determine if you’re suffering from its side effects or if you’re just experiencing the usual pregnancy symptoms.
Difficulty In Taking Them Daily
You may find it difficult to remember to take your prenatal vitamins daily because it’s a new addition to your routine. Some tips and tricks to help you remember are the following:
- Buy a pill reminder case.
- Leave your vitamins in a place where it’s impossible not to see them.
- There are more advanced and high-tech ways to take vitamins such as using a pill reminder app on your phone.
A crucial thing to remember is that prenatal vitamins are not meant to replace the nutrients that you get out of a balanced diet but to only supplement them. A healthy diet that contains all the essential nutrients is always recommended, even when you’re not pregnant. Make sure that you continue to eat healthily and stay fit while taking prenatal vitamins for you and your baby.