Having a healthy baby starts well before birth. Don't wait until you find out you're pregnant in order to prepare your body - learn more about the benefits of prenatal vitamins.
Host: Having a healthy baby starts well before birth, even before conception with a healthy lifestyle and prenatal vitamins. OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne LaJoie says don’t wait until you find out you’re pregnant to start getting the vitamins your body and your baby will need. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: Ideally, this is a conversation you’re having before you get pregnant. So, if you’re already pregnant then you can start prenatal vitamins but the important part of prenatal vitamins is the folic acid and so, you really want to start taking that before you are trying to get pregnant because the point of it is to prevent neural tube defects. The neural tube closes very early, so a lot of women, once they realized that they’re pregnant, they already passed the point where the neural tube has closed. Host: The neural tube is the baby’s brain and spinal cord, the most common neural tube defect is spine bifida. When a baby is born with a spine that is not closed causing the exposed nerves to be damaged. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: Most prenatal vitamins contain enough folic acid and the recommendation is really that all women and child bearing age where fertile should be taking folic acid everyday anyway for this reason to prevent neural tube defects. Host: Folic acid is found in most women’s multivitamins as well as in prenatal vitamins, just to make sure your vitamin has enough. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: You can just check the back and the dosage is 600 mcg and you want to make sure that that’s in it. Host: The FDA now requires manufacturers to fortifying rich-grain products like cereal, bread and pasta with extra folic acid. In foods like dark green vegetables and citrus fruits are also great natural sources of folic but experts say these foods are no substitute for taking your vitamins. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: I usually do recommend that women supplement rather than trying to get it from food just because it’s easier. Host: In fact, the body absorbs the synthetic form of folic acid better than folate found actually in food. In addition to iron which helps both moms and babies blood carry oxygen, pregnant and nursing women should be getting plenty of calcium to help maintain bone density. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: And multivitamins or prenatal vitamins typically don’t have a whole lot of calcium in them. So, it’s something that you do need to supplement. The dosage is about 1000 mg per day. Usually, they come in 500 and 600 mg doses. So, you can supplement somewhat with diet and then somewhat with just a tablet, whatever is convenient. Host: A woman should also make sure she’s living a healthy lifestyle before trying to get pregnant. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: It’s important to make sure that you’re eating correctly. That you’re not having excessive alcohol intake, that you’re exercising regularly, that you’re drinking lots of water and you just have a healthy lifestyle so that when you’re going into the pregnancy, you’re kind of optimizing everything. Host: Even though they’re called prenatal, keep taking those vitamins after your baby is born. Dr. Suzanne LaJoie: I usually recommend that women take supplement as long as they’re nursing. So, if a woman’s nursing for six months to a year, I’ll usually recommend that she continue her prenatal vitamin or a multivitamin with the calcium for that long. Host: To keep both mom and baby strong and healthy.