When you first visit your ob-gyn to confirm a pregnancy, your doctor will likely prescribe prenatal vitamins and tell you to take them every day. Understanding how prenatal vitamins affect your body and the benefits they provide will help you realize the vital role they play in your pregnancy.
There are myriad vitamins found in prenatal vitamins, which are essentially specially formulated multivitamins geared toward benefiting your baby’s health during pregnancy. The vitamins found in these rather large pills will supplement any vitamins that your body is lacking.
The most important of these vitamins is folic acid, which helps decrease the risk of spina bifida (a serious birth defect in which the spinal canal and backbone do not close up) from developing in your baby. The iron and calcium provided by prenatal vitamins are also important for fetal development.
Prenatal vitamins provide all the good stuff without adding a single calorie to your diet. This means they cannot and do not contribute to weight gain in any way.
If you are gaining what you perceive to be excessive weight during pregnancy, this is perfectly normal and has nothing to do with the prenatal vitamins that you are taking. Rapid weight gain is, in fact, important to a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women should gain between 15 and 40 pounds during the course of their pregnancy, with most women averaging around 30 pounds.
If you are concerned about the amount of weight you are gaining, focus on the fact that after the baby arrives, you will lose much of that weight immediately after delivery and even more weight in the subsequent weeks. You’ll also be able to regain control of your body and take off any lingering pounds with a healthy postpartum diet and exercise regimen. Many women are chagrined by the weight-gain aspect of pregnancy, but it has nothing to do with prenatal vitamins. Take the vitamins as prescribed by your doctor to ensure that your baby is getting all the health benefits these vitamins can provide.