It is important for most women of childbearing age to take a daily prenatal supplement. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all women between 15 and 45 years of age should consume folic acid daily.1 This is because half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned and because folic acid can help prevent spina bifida and anencephaly, two common and serious neural tube defects (NTDs).1
These NTDs can occur as early as 3-4 weeks after conception, before most women know they are pregnant. “The CDC estimates that most of these birth defects could be prevented if this recommendation were followed before and during early pregnancy.”1
If you have received a prescription, your doctor has recommended a prenatal vitamin that may contain a higher dosage of nutrients. Prescription prenatal vitamins are often covered by insurance.
The following describes key benefits associated with prescription prenatal vitamins.
Post-pregnancy, your prenatal vitamins provide an important source of nutrition for you and your baby during breastfeeding.
For baby: While you are breastfeeding, prenatal vitamins continue to provide key nutrients that support your baby’s healthy development, including folic acid, calcium, and iron.9 The DHA found in breast milk also supports healthy infant brain, eye, and nervous system development.5-6
For you: B vitamins help support milk production and energy levels.10 Even if you are not breast feeding, continuing to take a prenatal vitamin is recommended because it helps replenish iron stores depleted during the third trimester and delivery.11
Iron helps to prepare your body before and after delivery. Your body can lose up to 20% of its blood supply during a normal delivery. Maternal iron deficiency has been associated with depression, stress, and cognitive function in the postpartum period. After pregnancy, supplementing with iron daily helps replenish what is needed to maintain healthy iron levels in the body.12