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The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy

Monday, January 11, 2021

Prairie du Chien, WI - A healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals needed — but even with a healthy diet, it can be difficult to consume the correct amount of key nutrients. A prenatal vitamin can help fill any gaps for women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant.

“The need for certain nutrients, such as folate and iron, increases during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” explained Maranda Record, Board-Certified Doctor of Family Medicine at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic. “A prenatal vitamin is specially formulated for the expectant mother and baby.”

“Ideally, you’ll start taking prenatal vitamins before conception,” added Terri Payne, Family Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic. “In fact, it’s generally a good idea for women of reproductive age to regularly take a prenatal vitamin. The baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy — perhaps before you even know that you’re pregnant.”

The obstetric and midwifery care team at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic suggests taking prenatal vitamins throughout the entire pregnancy and, in some cases, even after the baby is born especially if the mom is breastfeeding. Ensuring the prenatal vitamin contains folate and not folic acid is essential. 600 mcg of folate is needed early in pregnancy stages to develop the baby’s brain neural tube and spinal cord.

“Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. The body does not convert folic acid into active vitamin B9 very well, so un-metabolized folic acid may build up in the bloodstream,” explained Molly Schlegel, Certified Nurse Midwife at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic. “The body needs the active form to have any health benefits. High levels of unmetabolized folic acid may negatively affect health. The healthiest sources of vitamin B9 are whole foods, such as leafy green vegetables. If you need to take a folate supplement, methyl folate is a healthier alternative to folic acid. It’s important to remember that prenatal vitamins complement a healthy diet — and are not a substitute for good nutrition. Prenatal vitamins won’t necessarily meet 100 percent of your vitamin and mineral needs.”

Dr. Record, Terri, and Molly provide a safe, woman-centered, empowering approach to care. They provide compassionate care to women and families, through every stage of life. Their team approach allows an expecting mom to develop a custom birth plan, to ensure the care meets their personal desires and needs. Learn more at crossingrivers.org/ob or schedule an appointment by calling 608.357.2500.

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