When should you start taking prenatal vitamins?

Babies are real go-getters when it comes to development. If it were the 100-yard dash, they’d be the first out the starting blocks. This no-procrastination approach to development influences the timing of when to start taking prenatal vitamins. If you are planning to become pregnant in the very near future, get on the prenatals NOW. From the time of conception, there’s no delay—crucial development is occurring quickly, and taking a prenatal vitamin even before pregnancy can help to reduce disruptions to healthy development that can result from nutritional deficiencies.

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Still wondering about prenatal vitamins and their importance? Scan below for suggestions about when to start taking prenatal vitamins and why.

Timing matters with prenatal vitamins

The general recommendation is to start taking a prenatal vitamin at least one month prior to becoming pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or may—surprise!—become pregnant, taking a prenatal vitamin can help you keep ahead of the development game, especially when it comes to supporting early growth. And if you’re a few years away from trying for a baby, you’ll want to start taking prenatals sooner than you may realize.

Once you begin taking a prenatal vitamin, continue to make it part of your daily schedule throughout pregnancy and possibly while breastfeeding. Taking a prenatal vitamin at the same time each day may help you to remember, but you may also adjust the timing to address any side effects, such as nausea. For example, some mamas find it helpful to take a prenatal vitamin at night or with food to lessen queasiness. 

As you make preparations for pregnancy, remember to include a prenatal vitamin before you actually become pregnant. This is also a great time to take another look at your diet. A prenatal vitamin is intended as a supplement to a healthy diet. Stock your pantry and refrigerator with healthy foods, like green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and healthy proteins, and meet with a healthcare provider before pregnancy to know your levels and avoid any deficiencies or avoid excess amounts of vitamins or minerals. 

Taking prenatals can affect early development

Rapid development occurs early on, including the cellular foundation that begins the development of organs and systems. Folic acid (or folate) is among the vital contributors to healthy baby development. Your baby needs this nutrient for brain and spine development, which helps to avoid any neural tube defects like spina bifida. 

Other early developmental milestones include the beginning development of the circulatory and digestive systems at week 4, along with the nervous system by the end of week 4. At week 5, the start of arm and leg development begin. These among other developments remind us why taking a prenatal vitamin early on (and even before pregnancy) is important. 

In short? Developing babies make most to-do lists look pretty lame. But mamas, this to-do list is also your to-do list, and your important role includes eating right and taking a supplemental prenatal vitamin.