Prenatal Vitamins: Side Effects and Benefits

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Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are essential to good health of both the mother and the fetus during most pregnancies. For example, the folic acid in prenatal vitamins can reduce the risk of the baby being born with certain birth defects such as spinal bifida. The calcium in prenatal vitamins ensures that the baby does not leech the mother’s calcium from her bones, leaving her at risk of low bone density and possible bone conditions later in life. The iron affects both mother and fetus, assisting the blood in both bodies to carry oxygen efficiently. However, prenatal vitamins also include several side effects.

Side Effects of Prenatal Vitamins

Especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, many women may suffer side effects from taking their prenatal vitamins. Side effects may include an increase in nausea and vomiting, especially in women already suffering from severe morning sickness. They can also cause other digestive issues, such as indigestion, diarrhea, bloating, or constipation. Some women also complain of headaches and fatigue after taking their prenatal vitamins. Discuss any unusual or extreme side effects with your doctor to ensure that they are not due to alternative problems.

Avoiding the Side Effects

If your prenatal vitamins make you extremely nauseous or unable to keep any food down, speak with your doctor about an alternative to your current prenatal vitamins. Side effects in some women are caused by the iron in the vitamins, so a doctor might suggest a different brand of prenatal vitamins that has a lower dose of iron. Other women are sensitive to the texture of the vitamin or to swallowing pills in general. This problem can often be solved by taking a chewable or liquid prenatal vitamin instead. In extreme cases, a doctor might suggest that the vitamins be discontinued entirely and be replaced with a vitamin-rich diet. Do not take this last measure without the support of your doctor or another medical professional.