If you're thinking about growing your family, chances are that you've heard about prenatal vitamins. In short, they help you ensure that you're getting enough of all the vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy, supporting both your health and the growing baby's health.
For most people, deciding to take a multivitamin during pregnancy is pretty much a no-brainer and in a 2016 survey of over 600 expectant women from Sydney, 79.1% reported taking one . The real question is when to take prenatal vitamins. Let's dive into it.
Why are prenatal vitamins important?
When you're pregnant, your nutritional requirements change. Pregnancy is an extremely demanding process during which nutritional deficiencies tend to get worse (you know, because of all the energy it takes to grow a little human inside of you), so it's only natural that your body needs a little extra support .
Put simply, that's why prenatal multivitamins are so important.
A good prenatal is formulated with key nutrients and is designed specifically to target the nutritional gaps that pregnant women are prone to. It helps keep you healthy and, as a result, keeps your baby healthy — now and in the future.
Kin's Prenatal Vitamin includes 12 highly bioavailable ingredients to help you meet your nutritional needs during those crucial development stages, providing you with ideal amounts of each nutrient — not too much, not too little.
Plus, thanks to its subtle vanilla flavour and smooth soft-gel coating, it's super easy to take and won't make your stomach turn.
When to start taking prenatal vitamins
We've gone over the benefits of taking a prenatal during pregnancy, but the truth is, it's never too early to start prepping your body for your new little tenant and you can actually start taking prenatal vitamins 3 months before you start trying to conceive .
It might seem way too early but many women don’t realise they’re pregnant until well into the first trimester.
For those who don't monitor their cycle religiously, a common symptom of early pregnancy is a missed period, which could actually be 6 weeks or more into their pregnancy. By then, a great deal of fetal development has already taken place .
If you start taking a daily prenatal multivitamin before you plan to fall pregnant, you're essentially creating a nutritional haven for you and your baby, right from the get-go. You're ensuring both your requirements are met, even before you confirm your pregnancy.
Plus, you're reducing the little one's risk of birth defects.
As we said, some of the most important foetal developments take place within the first few weeks. In the first 4 weeks alone the embryo’s eyes, ears, nose, nervous system, and digestive tract are all forming. But perhaps the most important event at this stage is the development of the neural tube, which will form the baby's brain and spinal cord.
This happens within the first 21-28 days, which easily falls into the timeframe when most women won’t even be showing pregnancy symptoms, or have taken a pregnancy test .
If a problem happens during this huge development stage, neural tube defects can take place, such as spina bifida or anencephaly — but the right prenatal can help reduce your odds of these issues occurring.
Which ingredients should I look for in a prenatal vitamin?
Most prenatal vitamins will include a combination of nutrients that pregnant people specifically need. Here are some we consider non-negotiables — and you should too:
Folate is a naturally occurring form of vitamin B9, found in foods like dark leafy greens, beans, peanuts, almonds, oranges, whole grains, and eggs. It plays a vital role in the formation of the baby's spinal cord and studies have also suggested that it can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, and pre-term delivery .
You may have heard before that pregnant women should take folic acid daily, but we actually recommend that you take methylated folate instead. This is because, unlike folic acid, methylated folate has high bioavailability meaning that it's easy for everyone to absorb and use it effectively.
Iron supports a healthy pregnancy by assisting with the formation of new red blood cells, carrying oxygen all around your body, and supporting the baby's development. Low iron in pregnancy can lead to fatigue and trouble concentrating, and can potentially make you more prone to infection . For the baby, it can affect foetal growth and increase the risk of premature birth or low birth weight.
Since 25% of pregnant people struggle with iron deficiency anaemia, and they often don't get enough iron from their diet alone, supplementing while pregnant becomes even more important.
Kin's Iron Support is a daily supplement to relieve fatigue from inadequate iron intake. Designed to support you during conception, pregnancy, postpartum or just daily, it helps maintain healthy iron levels and energy production without constipation and nausea.
Choline positively impacts your baby's brain development (particularly the hippocampus, which has a role in memory, attention, and learning), helps prevent certain mental illnesses, and supports spinal cord development. It also supports the development of the placenta, helping to keep it healthy, and reduces the risk of pregnancy complications, namely preeclampsia.
Vitamin B12 helps folate work its magic: it supports the development of the baby's neural tube and cognitive outcomes and helps create DNA.
A B12 deficiency can put your baby at a higher risk of developing permanent neurological and development issues, and it can also lead to intrauterine growth retardation, which basically means that the little one doesn't grow as they should and is often born with a low birth weight.
Low levels of zinc have been linked to preterm birth, postpartum haemorrhages, congenital malformations, and pre-eclampsia. In some cases, zinc has been found to play a role in prolonging labour — not fun. Since zinc isn't stored in the body, it's important to consume foods that are rich in this mineral, like fish, dairy, and poultry, while also supplementing.
Magnesium helps prevent leg and muscle cramps during pregnancy, reduces the risk of preterm births, and increases infant birth weight.
It also plays an important role in the structure of your baby's bones during the second trimester of pregnancy, especially when paired with calcium (another one to look out for when shopping for prenatal vitamins).
Getting enough vitamin D while you're pregnant helps your body absorb magnesium and calcium for the benefit of your baby's bone health, particularly during the second and third trimesters.
Studies have also shown that vitamin D may improve foetal growth, as well as reduce the risks associated pregnancy complications like with preeclampsia and gestational diabetes .
Combining a healthy diet with a high-quality prenatal vitamin is key to meeting your and your baby's nutritional needs. Start taking it early and give your baby the best possible start.