Do prenatal vitamins have side effects?

Pregnancy is an exciting time—full of joy and anticipation of that baby you’ll soon meet. But do you know what’s not exciting? Nausea, bloating and other weird pregnancy symptoms that mark this happy occasion. In addition to the discomfort of pregnancy, you may also feel confused about choosing the best prenatal vitamin for you, so that baby in your bump grows healthy and strong. If you’ve already reached your limit on the aches, pains and fatigue of pregnancy, you certainly will not want to add any potential side effects from prenatal vitamins. 

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Do prenatal vitamins cause side effects?

Prenatal vitamins can result in unwanted side effects, but with a few tips, you can likely stay clear of adding any more—because constipation is never fun for anyone. Eating healthy foods, drinking enough water and avoiding acidic food and beverages are easy first steps, but always talk with your healthcare provider to determine what you need in a prenatal vitamin, and to discuss any questions or concerns.

Common side effect culprits

The likely side-effect offenders of prenatal vitamins are symptoms commonly associated with pregnancy, so it’s not always easy to determine if the physical symptoms are the result of prenatal vitamins or pregnancy. So what side effects of prenatal vitamins might you experience? 

  • Nausea
  • Differences in urine color or odor (Odd, but typically not problematic) 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation

More is not always better when it comes to the amounts of vitamins and minerals included in prenatal vitamins. For example, too much iron can cause constipation. A thorough evaluation of your health by a professional will help you to avoid excess of minerals and vitamins that can produce side effects for you and affect healthy baby development. 

As you look at the list of side effects, keep in mind the difference between side effects and an allergic reaction. At any time, if you experience a sign of an allergic reaction, such as a rash, swelling or difficulty breathing, get medical help immediately.

Simple steps for soothing side effects

Small adjustments to when and how you take prenatal vitamins are among the tips for reducing side effects. If you notice a pattern of nausea after taking a prenatal vitamin, adjusting when you take the vitamin may reduce or eliminate the queasiness. Try out these tips for nausea:

  • Take prenatal vitamins with food (but avoid food with added sugar).
  • Take prenatal vitamins at night.
  • Divide your daily prenatal vitamin into two rather than taking the entire vitamin at only one time.

Constipation is the gift that keeps on giving. Ok, not it’s not. It’s miserable. Here’s where we circle back around to the importance of eating healthy food, including food that gives your body the right amount of fiber for general well-being and to reduce the chance of constipation. Couple fiber-rich foods with adequate water intake to keep everything on the move. 

If you try the above tips and you’re still experiencing side effects, it may be time to try a different prenatal vitamin. Not all prenatal vitamins are the same! Some are made with food-grade ingredients, others are in liquid or gummy form—one of these options may be a better fit for you. Regardless of the prenatal vitamin you choose, keep your healthcare provider in the loop and always follow the recommended dosage listed on the prenatal vitamin label.