What are prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins comprise daily vitamins and minerals that a woman needs before and during her pregnancy. The most significant vitamin that a woman needs to take while planning a pregnancy is folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that cells in the body need for growing and developing. Taking the appropriate amount of folic acid as advised by the doctor can lower the risk of problems related to the baby’s brain and spine- called neural tube defects (NTDs).
WHEN A WOMAN NEED TO START TAKING PRENATAL VITAMINS?
A woman should start taking folic acid before a woman starts trying to get pregnant. The first few weeks of pregnancy are a very crucial time for fetal and health development. Intake of folic acid and other prenatal vitamins can help to minimize the risk of some congenital disabilities. A woman should consume prenatal vitamins throughout her entire pregnancy period.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF PRENATAL VITAMINS?
Prenatal vitamins generally do not have any side effects, but sometimes intake of prenatal vitamins causes nausea and constipation. Some women can face the problem of nausea or constipation if they consume prenatal vitamins. If this happens, then the consultation with the doctor is critical.
BENEFITS OF PRENATAL VITAMINS
During pregnancy, nutritional needs are essential. For a pregnant woman, she must get proper nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. Nutrients are also needed for the proper development of the baby. Even if a woman eats a wide variety of foods, it isn’t effortless to get all the women and their baby’s nutrients. So, doctors advise pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins to get proper nutrition throughout their pregnancy period.
Taking proper prenatal vitamins and minerals can help maintain women’s health during pregnancy and minimize certain risks related to their child. The benefits of taking prenatal vitamins are:
1. REDUCES THE RISK OF THE CHILD’S DEVELOPING SPINE AND NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS-
Intake of the B vitamin folic acid very early in the pregnancy and before conceiving can substantially minimize the risk of developing neural tube defects, like- spina bifida (cleft spine) and anencephaly i.e. improper development of brain and bones of the skull. By consuming adequate folic acid quantities before and at the early stage of pregnancy, the baby’s risk of being born with the above defects is reduced nearly about 70%.
2. MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF OTHER BIRTH DEFECTS-
Sometimes risks are associated with the baby’s birth, such as a cleft lip or particular heart congenital disabilities. Folic acid helps to minimize the risk of a child being born with the above risks.
3. MAY REDUCE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING PREECLAMPSIA-
During the early stage of pregnancy; if the mother consumes appropriate quantities of folic acid, then the risk of preeclampsia minimizes. Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition characterized by high blood pressure, fluid retention, and excess protein in the urine.
4. HELPS AVOIDING IRON-DEFICIENCY ANEMIA-
A woman’s body requires a lot of iron during pregnancy- approximately double as much as before conception. The body utilizes iron to make haemoglobin (blood) for both the mother and her baby during pregnancy. Iron helps to transfer the oxygen from the mother’s lungs to her baby’s body and the rest of her body. Consuming prenatal vitamins with iron can help to obstruct iron deficiency anaemia, which is a condition that can prompt severe fatigue and other symptoms.
5. MINIMIZES THE RISK OF PRE-TERM DELIVERY, LOW BIRTH WEIGHT, AND INFANT MORTALITY-
Consuming more prenatal vitamins to ensure that the women get enough iron during her pregnancy can help protect her health and her child’s health. Preventing iron deficiency anaemia reduces the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and infant mortality.
6. HELPS TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT CALCIUM FOR THE CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT-
Women attaining the age of 19 years and older require 1,000mg of calcium a day before, during, and after their pregnancy. Women who attain the age of 18 and younger than that require 1,300mg. The baby must get calcium to develop strong teeth and bones, a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles, and normal heart rhythm and blood clotting.
7. HELPS TO PROTECT A MOTHER’S HEALTH FROM THE EFFECTS OF CALCIUM DEFICIENCY-
Acquiring enough calcium can minimize the risk of developing preeclampsia and hypertension (high blood pressure). Suppose the mother’s body does not have sufficient calcium in her diet during pregnancy. In that case, the developing baby will extract the calcium from the mother’s bones, which can hamper the health of the mother in the future. Prenatal vitamins can help to provide at least a portion of the daily calcium needs.
8. MINIMIZES THE RISK OF THE CHILD DEVELOPING RICKETS-
Rickets implies a condition the body of the children is weakened, and the bones soften. It is caused due to the deficiency in vitamin D. It can cause fractures and deformities. Vitamin D facilitates the assimilation of calcium and phosphorus. If the body does not get sufficient vitamin D during pregnancy, there are chances that the baby could be born with a deficiency. The baby might bear at risk for rickets, abnormal bone growth, and delayed development. Prenatal vitamins can help to provide sufficient vitamin D to prevent the above problems.
9. MIGHT HELP TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF PREECLAMPSIA AND GESTATIONAL DIABETES RELATED TO VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY-
Some studies have found some links between vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and both preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
10. PROVIDES MENTAL PEACE BY KNOWING THAT THE MOTHER AND BABY’S NUTRITIONAL NEEDS ARE MET-
It is imperative to eat well during the pregnancy period. The mother must consume a healthy diet that includes meat, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains. During the pregnancy period, there is a more critical requirement of nutrition. Consuming a healthy diet and having prenatal vitamins as advised by the physician can give a mother mental peace by knowing that her child’s nutritional needs are met and will help lead to a healthy pregnancy.
IS THERE ANY NECESSITY TO CONSUME PRENATAL VITAMINS BY EVERY PREGNANT WOMAN?
The most crucial step during the pregnancy period is consuming proper nutrition for the mother’s health and the baby’s health. The nutritional need of the baby is dependent on her mother’s nutrition. It is also dependent on essential vitamins, supplements, and minerals that are very necessary for embryonic and foetal development. A woman can skip taking prenatal vitamins if she consumes a diet full of nutrition, but that should be skipped only according to the doctor’s recommendation. Generally, the doctor recommends taking prenatal vitamins if any woman is planning to conceive or is already pregnant for the baby’s good health.
WHY ARE PRENATAL VITAMINS IMPORTANT?
The consumption of prenatal vitamins helps a woman to ensure that she is getting the proper quantities of nutrients before and during pregnancy. The first few weeks of pregnancy are susceptible. The brain and spine defect occurs in the initial pregnancy period, even before finding a pregnant woman. Before actually finding out that a woman is pregnant, it might be too late to prevent congenital disabilities.
Antara Chowdhury is a Content Marketer and Strategist with 6 years of experience. She is Master degree holder in Journalism and wants to explore everything she can write on.