1. Prenatal vitamins pack serious Good Stuff. Think folic acid; taking that at least one month prior to conception and during the first trimester can reduce the risk of certain birth defects by up to 70 percent. You also need more iron during those nine months, since pregnant women are more susceptible to anemia.
2. Don’t worry if you have horse-pill phobia. “I take my prenatal with chocolate milk in the morning,” says Heidi Krauss, a mom of two in Dobbs Ferry, New York. “That way, I have an enjoyable way to swallow it and get extra calcium.” You can also crush yours and sprinkle it over food, like a cup of yogurt or cereal. Prenatal vitamins don’t have to be taken whole to work.
3. Yes, you can beat the pill nausea some women get. Taking the vitamin before bedtime can help a lot. “I just slept right through that nauseous feeling,” says Emily Richeda, a mom of one from St. Louis, Minnesota. Ask your ob/gyn about your iron levels; if you aren’t at risk for anemia, she may prescribe a vitamin with slightly less iron, the mineral that typically triggers stomach upset.
4. Most doctors recommend prescription prenatals. “They contain more folic acid than over-the-counter ones and some also have omega-3 fatty acids, which research shows can deliver cognitive benefits in babies up to age 18 months,” says Judith Brown, R.D., author of What to Eat Before, During and After Pregnancy. “Women who don’t eat a lot of fish (a food high in omega-3 fatty acids) might especially want to consider this.”
5. Prenatal vitamins are no substitute for a healthy diet (but you knew that). Get your fruits and veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Add a prenatal vitamin, and you can feel confident that you’re eating your way to a healthy pregnancy.