They usually say that you’re eating for two when you’re pregnant. While the usual thinking about this is having an excuse for increased calorie intake, what’s actually more appropriate about this statement is the need for increased nutrition.
Babies need particular nutrients to properly develop inside their mother’s womb. Since normal diets alone may not be enough to fulfill the daily nutritional requirements of both the mother and the child, expecting moms resort to prenatal vitamins to minimize the nutritional gap.
The Key Components of Prenatal Vitamins
There are various types of prenatal vitamins available out there. The nutrient makeup of each brand may slightly vary, but there won’t be much difference when it comes to the key components. These are:
- Folic Acid: Also known as folate, folic acid helps minimize your child’s risk of suffering from neural tube defects (e.g. spina bifida).
- Calcium: Your baby will need enough calcium to develop functional muscles and bones.
- Iron: A woman’s blood volume rises during pregnancy, so she’ll also need more iron for efficient oxygen transport.
- Omega-3s: These are essential for your baby’s brain development.
Other components of prenatal vitamins include:
- Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E
While prenatal vitamins are mostly for the baby’s health and development, it also has a number of health benefits for the mother. It reduces the following negative symptoms that are common during pregnancy:
- Fatigue and Weakness
- Low Appetite
- Low Immunity Levels
- Brain Fog
- Muscle Cramps
- Skin Irritation
- Postpartum Depression
Prenatal Vitamins and Their Known Side Effects
While prenatal vitamins are here to provide the necessary nutrients for your baby, they also have side effects to watch out for.
Many women are able to tolerate it without any ill side effects, but if you experience any of the following symptoms below, at least you won’t be surprised when they actually occur:
- Stomach Upsets or Cramps
- Dark Stools
- Urine Color Changes
- Unusual Tastes in the Mouth
It’s usually the iron in prenatal vitamins that causes constipation and dark-colored stools. Meanwhile, B vitamins are responsible for the changes in urine color. Usually, drinking more fluids and eating more fiber would solve these issues.
With time, these side effects should go away on their own. However, if they don’t, make sure that you contact your doctor right away.
You should also seek help if you notice any of these more serious side effects:
- Allergic Reactions: Immediate medical help is needed if you notice any common symptoms of allergies (e.g. hives; rashes; wheezing; chest or throat tightness; breathing, talking or swallowing difficulties; red, blistered, or swollen skin; swollen face, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat)
- Bloody, Black, or Tarry Stools
- Very Bad Belly Pains, Stomach Upsets, or Stomach Cramps
- Vomiting Blood
- Vomit That Appears Similar to Coffee Grounds
Dealing with the Side Effects
You may have been eating right and avoiding all the bad food during your term, but sometimes you get unlucky with the bad side effects of pregnancy and prenatal supplements. Fortunately, you can continue drinking your vitamins and reduce the occurrences of side effects by following a few simple tips:
- Never drink your supplements on an empty stomach. Drink it with smoothies or fruit juices instead. This is usually a good solution for nausea, but if that doesn’t help, switching one prenatal vitamin with two chewable vitamins for kids may do the trick. Children’s vitamins generally have the main vitamins of prenatal vitamins, but with lower doses. Ask your doctor about this before making the switch.
- Change your vitamin drinking schedule. You can also try cutting the tablet in half––take one in the morning, and the other in the evening. There’s really no best time to drink it during the day as every woman is different, but you should drink it on a consistent schedule.
- Trying another brand may also be a solution.
In any case, make sure that you always follow the supplement instructions, as too much of certain nutrients (e.g. Vitamin A, folic acid) may cause birth defects. It’s rare that you’d ever get that close to a toxic amount, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Like any other medicine, prenatal vitamins may cause side effects. Fortunately, most women are able to tolerate it without any problems.
However, if you do experience any of the side effects mentioned above, make sure that you get in touch with your doctor so they could give proper advice on how to minimize it.