What To Look For In A Prenatal Vitamin

what to look for in a prenatal vitamin

If you’re trying, already are, or already delivered, prenatal vitamins are important during all three pregnancy ‘phases’. Experts suggest taking a prenatal vitamin as early as three months prior to conception, and until you wean if you’re breastfeeding. Sometimes, getting pregnant can take less or more time than expected. But, that shouldn’t stop you from keeping your body prepared. 

Getting ready for baby means more than setting up a registry on Babylist and designing the perfect nursery. Taking a prenatal vitamin will not only keep your baby healthy as it grows in your womb, it is meant to also keep you healthier, as well. And, the healthier you stay during your pregnancy, the better for both of you. Learn more about why you need a prenatal vitamin, and how to find one perfect for you. 

Why Do Prenatal Vitamins Matter?

Think about this: About three months before your egg releases, it begins to mature in case of conception. Which is why doctors suggest taking a prenatal the moment you begin to think about conceiving. It’s kind of scary to think about, but neural tube defects like spina bifida happen during the first 4-6 weeks after conception. A head start with your prenatal vitamin significantly reduces that risk because the folate in your vitamin is what can prevent that from happening. 

Folic acid, iron, and calcium are three of the heavy hitters your body and baby need during those 40 or so weeks, and possibly beyond. The combination of vitamins available in a prenatal work in harmony to carry you and your unborn child through a healthy pre, during, and post pregnancy time.

  • Folic acid/methylfolate: This is crucial to the development of your baby in order to prevent a Neural Tube Defect. Many people are unable to take folic acid for many different reasons, which is why we use methylfolate in our prenatal vitamins. 
  • Iron: For you, iron will keep you from getting anemic during pregnancy. For your baby, it helps to supply oxygen to the bloodstream, prevent low birth weight, and reduce the risk of premature delivery. 
  • Calcium: While this will give your baby strong and healthy bones, it will work to prevent bone loss in you.  

If you become pregnant before starting your prenatal, which does happen All. The. Time. Then just start taking them as soon as you find out! If you’re a vegetarian, or historically deficient is certain vitamins like D, make sure to discuss additional dosing of your vitamins with your doctor. 

Picked For You: What You Need To Know About Your Pregnancy

How Are Prenatals Different From Regular Vitamins?

Typically, your prenatal vitamin will have higher doses of folic acid and iron than what is found in a regular daily multivitamin. The thing about that multivitamin you’re used to taking is that it’s great for just you. But, when your body is working extra hard to prepare for and grow another human, it’s going to need some extra things that a multivitamin won’t have. In particular, iron and folic acid in higher doses.

When you’re pregnant, the dietary guidelines and dosing requirements are different than when you’re not. And, a good prenatal vitamin will take care of those needs. 

Do I Have To Take A Prenatal Vitamin?

Yes, you really should take a prenatal vitamin. The thing is, finding one that has the least amount of side effects. Some are so huge that you just start gagging the moment you pick up the bottle. Others can make you nauseous and have no appetite. Upset stomachs, diarrhea, and dark stools are also common side effects. 

Some women opt out of prenatal vitamins and instead focus on the foods that would provide their little passenger with the best environment to grow, while keeping momma healthy and strong throughout the pregnancy and beyond. 

There are many women are completely unable to take folic acid, which makes it difficult because folic acid is one of the main reasons prenatal vitamins are encouraged. The MTHFR gene, something everyone has, is meant to break down folic acid into folate and distribute it across your body. Folate makes your DNA, repairs your RNA, as well as produces your red blood cells. It’s a pretty important process.

Sometimes, this MTHFR gene is mutated, which then doesn’t allow your body to turn folic acid into folate, thus causing all sorts of pregnancy complications. If you test positive for the mutated MTHFR, then your prenatal vitamin should include L-methylfolate instead of folic acid

What Should I Look For In My Prenatal Vitamin?

No matter how healthy you eat, prenatal vitamins give you that extra boost when you just can’t fit it all in. Your prenatal should have your back, as well as your unborn baby’s. Key nutrients that should be present in your prenatal vitamin, aside from a form of folate, iron, and calcium are*:

Iodine: This helps support the development of your little one’s thyroid and brain. 

B6: Studies show pregnant women who are getting enough B6 have a decreased risk of morning sickness.

Vitamin B12: When taken with your folate/methylfolate, this Vitamin B12 is believed to prevent spina bifida, along with other spinal and nervous system defects. It gives you a boost of energy during your exhausting first and last trimesters, as well. 

Vitamin C: Helps to develop your baby’s muscles, cartilage, and bones. It also forms blood cells, and collagen. 

Vitamin A: This is important for the growth of your baby while it’s an embryo. The development of the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, eyes, bones, and most of the systems of the body are all dependent on getting enough Vitamin A. It also helps you during postpartum. 

Vitamin D: Getting enough Vitamin D during your pregnancy is essential to both you and your baby. Generally, there isn’t enough present in most of the prenatal vitamins so your doctor may suggest taking an additional supplement.* 

Vitamin K: This vitamin supports healthy blood clotting. Too little Vitamin K can cause hemorrhaging. But, too much can cause problems, as well. It helps to reduce bone loss, as well as osteoporosis, as well. 

Zinc: This vitamin is necessary to support your immune system. It also helps with healthy cell division. 

As with any other supplements, it’s important to make sure to check with your doctor prior to taking a prenatal or starting any new vitamin regimen. 

What Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

You may hear that you can do everything in moderation during your pregnancy. Of course, there are some things that are best if they are completely avoided such as cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol. 

Avoid things like:

  • Fish high in mercury. Tuna, swordfish, and mackerel are prime examples. 
  • Raw fish like sushi is best not eaten until after you’ve given birth. 
  • Raw or undercooked meats. Serve your burgers and steaks medium, at least until you’ve had your baby. 
  • Raw eggs such as poached, lightly scrambled, salad dressings like Caesar, raw cake and cookie batter, and cake frosting. 
  • Only eat organ meat like liver once per week. 
  • Keep your caffeine intake to a minimum, it stays in the placenta longer than it does in the rest of your body.
  • Avoid raw sprouts like alfalfa and bean, they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. 
  • Make sure to wash all your produce very well to reduce the risk of contamination from salmonella, e.Coli, and Listeria. 
  • Only drink pasteurized juices and milk.
  • Keep the junk food to a minimum. 

For a prenatal vitamin that will deliver all the nutrients you need to support the healthiest pregnancy possible, visit our Prenatal Pod page. 

The Tespo Connect will perfectly mix your prenatal vitamin at the push of a button. 


Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that you consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects, and such products may not be safe in all people.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.