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9 Tips For Choosing the Best Prenatal Supplements

9 Tips For Choosing the Best Prenatal Supplements

When you’re pregnant, taking prenatal supplements is essential to growing a healthy baby and reducing the risk of birth defects. Prenatal supplements can also help you feel great during pregnancy and give you the energy you need to stay active, and improve your chances of experiencing successful labor and delivery.

Navigating all the many available prenatal supplements can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure which ones are high in quality or which vitamins are best for you and your growing baby.

Here are nine tips for choosing the best prenatal supplements and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center for all your birthing needs.

What Are Prenatal Supplements?

Prenatal supplements are multivitamins that prevent you from being deficient in certain nutrients during pregnancy. Many times, it can be difficult to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone. Prenatal supplements can help ensure you’re receiving the daily recommended amount of nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Some prenatal supplements contain only folic acid, or vitamin B9, while others contain a long list of nutrients, including antioxidants, probiotics, and amino acids. Choosing a prenatal supplement often comes down to personal preference and to your unique personal health needs based on diet, lifestyle, and medical history.

Why Are Prenatal Supplements Important?

The nutrients in prenatal supplements—specifically folic acid and iron—can reduce your baby’s risk for birth defects.

Folic acid supports the development of your baby’s brain and spine. This vitamin can prevent birth defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly. The CDC recommends taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day during pregnancy to prevent these birth defects.

Iron supports the development of both your placenta and your baby. This mineral helps your body make blood, so your baby has a healthy and adequate oxygen supply. It can also reduce the risk of anemia and low red blood cell count. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends taking 27 mg of iron every day for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Your doctor can talk to you in more detail about the importance of prenatal supplements and offer their own tips on choosing a quality brand.

9 Tips For Choosing a Good Prenatal Supplement

Your OB-GYN, nurse midwife, or primary care doctor can usually recommend the best brands of prenatal supplements to take while you are pregnant. In the meantime, use the below tips when navigating your options for a quality supplement.

1. Note the Serving Sizes

Take a look at the supplement’s serving size or the number of pills you are required to take every day. Some supplements only require you to take one per day. Others may require you to take up to six pills daily, two or three hours apart.

Choose a supplement with serving sizes that align best with your lifestyle and that won’t be difficult to implement into your daily routine. For example, if you tend to lose track of time while you’re at work, you may want to avoid supplements that require you to take them several times a day.

Keep in mind that not getting enough of certain nutrients may increase the risk of birth defects. Be realistic with serving sizes and avoid supplements that won’t fit in with your lifestyle, despite your best intentions.

2. Compare Costs Between Supplements

Prenatal supplements range in price based on factors, including ingredients, whether or not they’re vegan or organic, and the amount in each bottle. Compare pricing before making a decision. Avoid choosing a supplement based on price alone. You should also consider reading reviews of supplements online to see what other moms and OB-GYNs are saying about them.

3. Opt For the Right Nutrients

Folic acid, iron, vitamin D, calcium, choline, and DHA are among the top nutrients that should be included in a quality prenatal vitamin. Make sure the supplement you choose has the right amount of each of these vitamins, so you aren’t falling short.

If you are unsure about the dosage amounts you need in each of these vitamins, consult with your OB-GYN. Your doctor can tell you how much of each of these vitamins you need. Generally, pregnant women need the following daily amounts:

  • Folic acid - 600 mcg
  • Iron - 27 mg
  • Calcium - 1,000 mg
  • Iodine - 220 mcg
  • Choline - 450 mg
  • Vitamin A - 770 mcg
  • Vitamin C - 85 mg
  • Vitamin D - 600 IU
  • Vitamin B6 - 1.9 mg
  • Vitamin B12 - 2.6 mcg

4. Check the Herbs

Some prenatal supplements include herbs that may reduce symptoms like morning sickness and constipation. While herbs can be extremely beneficial, some may also interfere with certain medications you are taking.

Before settling on a supplement, review the list of herbal ingredients and consult with your doctor. Your doctor can check to see if they might interact with any medications you are taking and give you the green light if there are no interactions.

5. Avoid Gummy Supplements

Gummy supplements can be fun, sweet, and convenient to take compared with other supplements, as they can usually be easily chewed and swallowed. Some moms prefer taking gummies over pills, especially during times of morning sickness when the gag reflex is more prone to kicking in. However, many doctors advise against taking gummies since many brands lack key nutrients or contain very small doses.

Avoid taking gummy prenatal supplements unless your doctor recommends otherwise. If you do not like swallowing whole pills, ask your OB-GYN about liquid supplements or other chewable forms that contain all the vitamins you need.

6. Honor Your Personal Preferences

One benefit to there being lots of prenatal supplement brands is that the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a brand that aligns with your personal preferences. You can choose supplements that are vegan, organic, or kosher. You can even choose supplements that lack ingredients to which you’re allergic.

Don’t put your personal preferences aside entirely when choosing a prenatal supplement. Your personal preferences are important to take into account, especially if they make you feel better about the idea of taking daily supplements.

7. Plan To Keep Taking Them

Many OB-GYNs will recommend continuing to take prenatal supplements for up to several months or a year after giving birth. After your baby is born, prenatal supplements can supply you with extra energy and help your body recover more quickly after labor and delivery. They can also support milk production and ensure both you and your baby are getting enough nutrients if you’re breastfeeding.

When choosing a prenatal supplement, keep in mind that it may benefit you to keep taking them for a period of time after giving birth. Choose a supplement that you can easily take regularly despite having busy days and sleepless nights—especially in the beginning.

8. Take Nutrition Into Account

It can be difficult for many Americans to get all the nutrients they need from diet alone, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant. Vitamin B6, iron, and vitamin D are among the top vitamins in which Americans are deficient, reports the CDC.

Take your personal nutrition into account when choosing a prenatal supplement. Make sure the vitamin you choose contains the nutrients in which you’re deficient. For example, if your diet lacks fish, look for a prenatal supplement that contains omega-3s—particularly DHA.

During the last few weeks leading up to childbirth, ask your doctor if or when you should cut back on certain supplements. Some herbs and vitamins can thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding, like fish oil supplements and fenugreek. Your OB-GYN or doctor can advise on whether you should stop taking certain supplements due to the risk of bleeding.

9. Consult With Your Doctor

Your OB-GYN or nurse-midwife can usually provide you with a list of recommended prenatal supplements based on professional experience and feedback from other patients. If you’re still overwhelmed about choosing a supplement, ask your doctor for help and advice. Your provider can help you navigate the many different brands, answer all your questions, and point you in the right direction.

What Else Is Good To Know About Prenatal Supplements?

You should start taking prenatal supplements as soon as you find out you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. The CDC recommends that all women of reproductive age take folic acid every day regardless of whether she is pregnant, as this nutrient can help the body make new cells.

Here are other helpful things you should know about prenatal supplements:

  • Do not take extra doses or extra prenatal pills. Some vitamins, like vitamin A, may increase the risk of birth defects when taken in high doses.
  • Ask your OB-GYN whether you need other supplements on top of prenatal vitamins. Some doctors may suggest taking additional supplements to prevent nutritional deficiency.
  • Ask your OB-GYN to confirm how much folic acid you need if you have a history of pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect. If so, the CDC suggests taking 4,000 mcg of folic acid every day for one month before becoming pregnant and through the first three months of pregnancy.

Prenatal Care At Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a wide range of healthcare services, including prenatal care. Labor, delivery, and breastfeeding support are just some of the many services available at our birthing center. Contact us today at (805) 737-3382 to request an appointment and learn more about our many healthcare services.