In today’s day and age, the overwhelming joy of becoming pregnant often comes with an overwhelmingly hefty to-do list. Attend all your checkups, create a registry, throw a shower, decorate a nursery, pick a name, etc. The list goes on. Because of this, important tasks, like taking and choosing your prenatal vitamins, can become just another box to check. But when you think about it, prenatal vitamins should be a priority, not an afterthought. After all, there’s nothing more important than making safe and healthy choices about what goes into your body while you are pregnant. With that said, armed with a little education, thoughtfulness, and honesty, the prenatal vitamins you choose can go a long way towards the health and prosperity of your fetus, your own health and comfort, and your recovery afterward.
To start, begin a dialogue surrounding vitamins with your OB/GYN that includes your diet, your medical history, and any vitamins or supplements you already take. According to California-based OB/GYN Dr. Sheila Loanzon, “With a balanced diet, most well-nourished women will meet the necessary vitamins needed to satisfy the daily requirements for preconception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.”
But, she adds, there should be adjustments to nutrition needs based on lifestyle and pregnancy type, for example, if someone is vegetarian/ vegan or having twin or more pregnancies. “If a patient has had a history of a fetus with a neural tube defect like spina bifida, it is highly encouraged to take folic acid to prevent this from occurring in future pregnancies.” She also says, “Lactating women on vegetarian or vegan diets should be aware of the potential risk for mineral, protein, and vitamin deficiencies.” Also, if you find a supplement that you feel may be right for you and your individual needs, don’t be afraid to bring it into your doctor to have a look at. He or she should be happy to assess it for you and let you know about any appropriate modifications.
Aside from what’s inside your pre- or postnatal supplement, consider cost and convenience as part of the equation as well. For instance, it’s important to take your vitamins on a consistent basis and to do a gut check. If you’re the type of woman who prefers to subscribe to regular deliveries or pay a little extra for individually packaged vitamins you stow in your purse, do it. If you’re still not sure where to begin, use the below as a beginners guide to prenatal categories and go from there.
Dietary restrictions, like being vegan or vegetarian, are a very important thing to consider when choosing a supplement. Not only do you want to make sure that the pill you are consuming follows your diet's guideline, but you may also need more of a certain vitamin than your coworker who is also pregnant but who eats fish, eggs, dairy, and meat.
Ritual’s prenatal vitamin (which is delivered straight to your door for $35/month) is vegan-friendly and includes all the nutrients you need to support a healthy pregnancy in their cleanest, most absorbable forms. This includes omega-3s, choline, vegan-certified vitamin D3 from wild-harvested lichen, iron, and folate. Just be aware that everyone – and all diets – are different. Err on the side of caution and ask your doctor if you should take anything else to support your pregnancy properly.
First-trimester nausea is awful, period. And if your prenatal vitamin makes that worse for you? That just sucks. Luckily, there are vitamin formulas that exist that are easy on the stomach, like Honest Co.’s Whole Food Based Prenatal.
It includes ginger, vitamin B6, and gentle forms of micro-minerals that help reduce nausea. They can even be taken on an empty stomach. Dr. Loanzon agrees and says, “It’s important to find a prenatal vitamin that you can tolerate when you have nausea in the first trimester."
Subscription vitamins are a huge trend right now, and we totally understand why. With your vitamins scheduled to arrive at your door or office exactly when you need them, you don’t have to worry about missing a dose or being stuck with useless leftovers.
Care/of, a company that's gaining popularity for its personalized vitamin packets, has a pre- and postnatal vitamin that's conveniently delivered to you on a schedule, takes your digestion into consideration, comes with separate fish oil and calcium pills, is committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, and comes in daily dose individual packs that are easy to take on the go. What more could you want?
The right prenatal vitamins don’t have to be expensive. Dr. Loanzon says, “Designer prenatal vitamin brands and cost-savings-type prenatal vitamins often have the same vitamin and mineral supplementation; however, there may be more pizzazz, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, or organic specifications in the expensive brands. Be careful with marketing ploys! Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.”
If having the best of everything appeals to you (and it’s okay if it does!) there’s no reason you shouldn’t take the same pre- and postnatal vitamins as wellness guru and Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow.
All kidding aside, her vitamin packs, which are gluten-free and non-GMO, were developed by top doctors and are, according to their website, "a comprehensive vitamin and supplement regimen for pre- and postnatal women, specifically created to aid in replenishing critical nutrition building blocks post-baby."