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How to Choose the Right Prenatal for Your Pregnancy

July 27, 2012

Taking a daily prenatal vitamin is recommended from the day you start trying to conceive. A good prenatal is packed with recommended vitamins, including an increased amount of folic acid and a dose of DHA. But some women find certain prenatals to be difficult to swallow or digest, and finding the right pill for your pregnancy can be a challenge!

If you’ve paid a visit to your ob/gyn for a pre-conception visit, or if you’ve discovered you’re pregnant and have made an appointment, your doctor may have prescribed you a prenatal vitamin already. The upside to these vitamins lies in both the quality and the cost. Most contain every vitamin and mineral you need for pregnancy, and in the right doses. Plus, most contain DHA as well. And since your insurance likely covers your monthly prescription for prenatals, your cost will be much lower than if you opt for an OTC vitamin.

But some women find these heavy-duty prescription prenatal vitamins difficult to digest, especially in the first trimester. The load of iron in these pills can aggravate nausea in early pregnancy. If you’re taking a prescription prenatal and are having trouble keeping it down, scan the shelves at your local pharmacy or health food store for prenatal vitamins that do not contain iron. Make sure they have your daily recommended amounts of necessary ingredients, especially vitamins B6 and B12 and DHA. But most importantly, look for 800 – 1000 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is the real heavy hitter in prenatal vitamins, as a lack of it has been proven to increase your baby’s risk of neural tube defects. And if you find yourself low on iron at any point during your pregnancy, but can’t still can’t stomach prenatals with iron, ask your doctor to recommend more easily digestible iron supplements, or other ways of getting enough iron to prevent anemia.

And of course, all of those healthy vitamins and minerals make for one gigantic pill. A lot of women have trouble swallowing those huge pills everyday, and nausea in early pregnancy only makes that gag reflex more sensitive. If you can’t get your prenatal down, there are several chewable prenatals on the market that may be easier for you to take. There are also smaller prenatals in gel capsule form. Again, check out your health food store, or ask your friends for recommendations. And remember, scrutinize the label of any vitamins you buy over the counter to make you’re getting the most important nutrients you need during pregnancy, or seek out supplementary pills if the vitamin you choose falls short.

At the end of the day, the best prenatal vitamin for you is the one you’ll actually take every day! If you find yourself shying away from any and all prenatals due to stomach upset or difficulty swallowing pills, at least make sure to take your regular multi-vitamin or even Flintstones vitamins. While they don’t provide the same benefits as prenatals, it’s better to reach for these less powerful alternatives than nothing at all.

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