During pregnancy, there is an increased need for a constant supply of important nutrients for the mother and baby. A well-balanced diet may not always give the body a good supply of the most important vitamins needed for proper fetal development. It is therefore important for women to take prenatal multivitamins, which offer a host of benefits to the mother and the baby before, during and after pregnancy.
It is recommended that women should start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as they start trying to conceive. One of the greatest benefits of taking such vitamins is that they supply the body with enough folic acid. It is advisable to start taking folic acid vitamins before conception because most birth defects occur within 30 days after conception, a period during which most women do not even know they are pregnant. Vitamins designed for prenatal care supply folic acid to the baby, ensuring that they do not develop neural tube defects. Such defects can later translate into problems with brain and spinal cord development. Multivitamins containing folic acid should be taken throughout the pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins contain recommended amounts of calcium, which is important in pregnancy. During this time, the baby needs an adequate supply of calcium to help in the development of strong bones. Taking these vitamins also prevents a woman from losing her bone density, as the baby may take whatever calcium they need from the mother.
Iron is another important nutrient for both mother and baby. Most women do not get enough iron from their diets, hence the need for a supplemental source of iron. During pregnancy, the blood volume increases by up to 50%. This increases the need for iron, which is important in helping blood carry oxygen to the baby and the placenta. Iron levels in the body may be depleted by constant vomiting in women who have severe morning sickness. To avoid pregnancy anemia caused by iron deficiency, one should take vitamins with the requisite amount of iron.
Multivitamins help reduce the chances of giving birth to preterm babies with low birth weights. One should follow the recommendations of their doctor, since different women have different nutritional requirements. For example, women who have had heavier menstrual flows before pregnancy may need a higher dosage of iron.
Multivitamins taken during and soon after pregnancy can help the mother recover faster after giving birth. These vitamins are especially helpful in replacing the blood lost during child birth. One should seek the advice of a doctor on which multivitamins are best suited for their specific needs.