Disclaimer: The information Truly Mama provides is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your own medical care provider before purchasing or taking any prenatal vitamin.
Whether you’re newly pregnant or trying to conceive, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you begin taking a daily prenatal vitamin.
This is to ensure that your body has the proper amount of nourishment that it needs to perform the incredibly impressive feat of growing a human being. That’s not to say that you won’t have a healthy baby without a prenatal vitamin or that taking a prenatal vitamin ensures that everything will go 100% always, of course, but a vitamin can help make sure you’re at least giving your body (and baby!) the best start possible.
Here’s some additional information about prenatal vitamins, along with Truly Mama’s picks for the best prenatal vitamins on the market.
In this article:
- Why are prenatal vitamins important anyways?
- When to take prenatal vitamins?
- What to look for in a prenatal vitamin
- Best prenatal vitamin with Choline : Beli women’s prenatal
- Best prenatal vitamins for men : Beli men’s prenatal vitamin
- Best personalized vitamin : Care/of Personalized Vitamins
- Best vitamins founded by an OB/GYN : Perelel Pre and Postnatal Vitamins
- Best overall prenatal vitamin : Prenatal Vitamin by One-A-Day
- Best organic prenatal vitamin : Garden of Life Organic Prenatal Multivitamin
- Best gummy prenatal : Smarty Pants Daily Organic Gummy Prenatal Multivitamin
- Best prenatal fish oil : Nordic Naturals’ Prenatal DHA
- Best vegan prenatal vitamin s: Pink Stork Vegan Prenatal Vitamins + DHA
- Best prenatal vitamin subscription : Ritual’s Essential Prenatal subscription
- Best aid for cycle regulation : Upspring Fertility Capsules
- FAQs about prenatal vitamins
Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Important?
First up, let’s chat a little about why prenatal vitamins can be helpful. Although it’s always best to eat your vitamins through healthy food when you can, the right prenatal vitamin can help fill in any nutritional gaps you might have. This might be especially important if you’re facing morning sickness, which can make even keeping down a piece of toast feel like a major accomplishment.
(Side note: if you have questions about the right prenatal for your pregnancy, reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help you negative your unique dietary needs or restrictions and brainstorm ways to get around nausea sometimes caused by taking prenatal vitamins.)
And taking a prenatal—even before you start trying to conceive—can help ensure that you are ready to support a growing baby once you do get pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that all people who are planning to get pregnant begin taking a prenatal vitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before pregnancy.
Most prenatals can be bought over-the-counter, but many care providers will write you a prescription at your first prenatal checkup. You should check with your own doctor for recommendations on prenatal vitamins, especially if you have any specific medical needs, but if you’re finding yourself browsing the pharmacy or scrolling through the brands online, we can help you sort through the options.
When Should You Take Prenatal Vitamins?
If you’re thinking about having a baby, the time to start taking a prenatal vitamin is now. Taking a prenatal vitamin while you’re still trying to conceive (TTC) can help prepare your body for the work of early pregnancy. Since you’ll be pregnant for at least a couple weeks before you get a positive pregnancy test, it’s best not to wait until you know you’re pregnant.
The neural tube, which will eventually become the brain and the spinal cord, is developing during those earliest weeks and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends taking folic acid or a vitamin containing it before conception as a preventative measure against birth defects.
You should continue taking your prenatals throughout your pregnancy, but you may be surprised to hear that you also shouldn’t stop taking after your baby is born. Breastfeeding requires a lot of nutrients from the mom and it’s a good idea to continue to support your body during this phase of life if you choose to nurse.
Additionally, a high-quality prenatal multivitamin that will support your body as it heals from childbirth and keeps up with the demands of new motherhood.
“The World Health Organization recommends taking a vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid before getting pregnancy to help prevent against birth defects.”
What to Look For in Prenatal Vitamins
There are two key ingredients that every prenatal vitamin should contain: iron and folic acid:
- Iron. Iron helps lower the risk of a condition called puerperal sepsis, an infection that can occur after a mother’s water breaks during labor up until six weeks postpartum. Supplementing with iron can also reduce the risk of the baby being born early or at a low birth weight as well. The WHO recommends between 30 and 60 milligrams of iron daily throughout pregnancy
- Folic acid. Folic acid has also been deemed essential to healthy fetal development and both the ACOG and the WHO recommends a minimum of 400 micrograms of this supplement daily. Following this guideline could help minimize the risk of birth defects, especially neural tube defects.
And while folic acid and iron are the must-haves in a prenatal vitamin, there are other nutrients that are important to a healthy pregnancy. Specifically, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that expecting moms encourage healthy teeth and bone development in the fetus with calcium and vitamin D. Dairy products, broccoli, fortified breads, cereals, and juices, and almonds are all great sources of calcium. You can also get more Vitamin D by drinking fortified milk and eating salmon, mackerel, and egg yolks.
Choline is also important for brain development and may be hard to find in a prenatal vitamin. The good news is it is pretty easy to add to your diet by eating peanuts, beef and chicken, or drinking milk. Last is omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to be good for the developing brain. Salmon and shellfish are good sources of this nutrient, but a good fish oil supplement can be taken to fill in the gaps.
Now, let’s talk Truly Mama’s picks for the best prenatal vitamins for pregnancy to consider and discuss with your own pregnancy healthcare provider.
Best Prenatal Vitamin with Choline
Best Prenatal Vitamin for Men
Best Personalized Prenatal
Best Prenatal Vitamins From an OB/GYN
Best Overall Prenatal Vitamin
Best Organic Prenatal
Best Gummy Prenatal Vitamin
Best Prenatal Fish Oil
Best Vegan Prenatal Vitamin
Best Prenatal Subscription
Best Vitamin for Irregular Cycles
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
If you can, start your prenatal one month before you start trying to conceive, as recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. During those first weeks of pregnancy, the fetus is developing their neural tube. Taking a prenatal containing at least 400 mcg folic acid can help lower the risk of neural tube birth defects.
How long does it take for prenatal vitamins to work?
It isn’t clear exactly how long it takes prenatal vitamins to work, but it is recommended by the ACOG and WHO that women who may get pregnant start their prenatal before trying to conceive. In addition to a healthy diet, the nutrients in prenatal vitamins can help prepare your body for pregnancy and support healthy fetal development.
It is OK to take prenatal vitamins at bedtime?
The best time to take a prenatal vitamin is when it will be easy to remember. If you’re finding it hard to stomach your prenatal first thing in the morning, you may have more luck waiting and having it with a snack before bed. If you’re vomiting after taking your prenatal, talk with your care provider. They may have suggestions for changing your routine to make taking a supplement easier on your stomach.
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