This Is When You Should Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are an important part of keeping both baby and mom healthy. While you may know you're supposed to take prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy, experts say you should actually start taking them even sooner.

Your body needs more nutrients — like folic acid and iron — when pregnant. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects that affect the fetal brain and spinal cord, which starts developing during the first month of pregnancy (via Mayo Clinic). It is recommended to start taking extra folic acid, or prenatal vitamins, at least three months before you become pregnant.

You may be wondering how you're supposed to know exactly when you're going to get pregnant. Since there is no prediction on how long it will take to conceive, many gynecologists actually recommend starting to take prenatal vitamins, as well as cutting out other unhealthy behaviors like smoking, as soon as you're ready to start trying to have children, according to Healthline.

How prenatal vitamins can make you feel

Some healthcare providers say that women of reproductive age should take prenatal vitamins on a regular basis (via Mayo Clinic). However, you want to be mindful to avoid taking multivitamins or prenatal vitamins in higher-than-necessary doses, as they can be harmful to your developing baby.

Prenatal vitamins have some side effects like nausea or constipation. In those cases, it is best to consult with your doctor about switching to a different brand or trying the vitamin in a different form — like gummies, capsules, or shakes (via Healthline). You can also experiment with taking your vitamin with or without food to see what works best for your body. And if you're experiencing constipation, up your water intake.

If you aren't taking prenatal vitamins and find out you're pregnant, try not to panic. Just start taking them right away to promote a happy, healthy pregnancy.