Question: This is my first pregnancy and I’ve been having a hard time keeping down my prenatal vitamins. I know that they are important to my baby’s well being. As of right now, I’m not taking any vitamins at all, I’m just trying to eat all my fruits and vegetables every day. Am I causing any harm to my baby by not taking these vitamins?
Answer: Well you certainly are not alone. Most moms-to-be have nausea in the first trimester, and many are so sick that a giant vitamin pill is about the last thing they can gag down. Chewable prenatal vitamins can help, but sometimes even those are difficult. It’s great that you are able to eat fruits and veggies—some moms can’t even do that!
The most important nutrient that many moms don’t get enough of in the first trimester is the B vitamin folic acid. Folic acid decreases the chance of several types of birth defects including spina bifida, a condition in which the spine doesn’t close properly. While you can get folic acid from vegetables, fruits, and enriched breads, most of us can benefit from taking extra folic acid early in pregnancy. And the good news is, a 0.4 milligram (400 microgram) folic acid tablet is smaller than a prenatal vitamin, and doesn’t tend to upset your stomach. Alternatively, many doctors and midwives recommend taking two chewable children’s vitamins, which are lower in iron than prenatal vitamins but have enough folic acid and may be easier on your stomach.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about your situation, and see what he or she recommends. Because fetal organs form early in the first trimester, this may be something worth calling about, rather than waiting until your next scheduled appointment. And be reassured that you probably will feel better soon, and able to take your vitamin if you so choose. Meanwhile, keep those fruits and veggies in the lineup. You are doing your best to take care of your little one already!