Supplements

Do Prenatal Vitamins Lead to Weight Gain?

Most mothers cannot wait to gain a little weight and show off their beautiful baby bump during their first pregnancy! Funny enough, baby number two usually brings about the complete opposite reaction with moms hoping to gain as little weight as possible while remaining healthy.

New rumors are circulating the internet that prenatal vitamins will make you gain weight during pregnancy. I feel concerned that such inaccurate information reaches expectant moms and I am happy to report that this information is entirely false!

Basic understanding of weight gain

The human body requires calories to fuel your body and get through the day. We usually gain these calories from the food we consume. When you consume more calories than what you use during the day, this leads to weight gain. It does not make any difference whether you are pregnant or not.

Pre-natal vitamins contain minimal if any calories. This means that there is no way that they can make you gain weight.

As a pregnant woman though, your body will need more calories than usual. The average woman needs to take in about 2000 calories per day. Pregnancy only warrants about 300 additional calories. In other words, the age-old saying that you are eating for two when pregnant is also a myth.

We will discuss how much weight you should be gaining during pregnancy later on but let us first focus on our primary subject: The prenatal vitamin.

pregnancy vitamins

Do I really need prenatal vitamins

Yes. During pregnancy, your body requires more vitamins and minerals than usual. After all, you are responsible for growing a human being!

The vitamins gained through eating a healthy, balanced diet these days is often not sufficient enough when you are not pregnant, which means that you will most likely be lacking in the vitamin department once you are expecting and your unborn baby starts depleting the vitamins you do have in your body.

Prenatal vitamins will also provide your body and your baby with the nutrients you need, but that is hard to get enough of in food, including folic acid and iron. These two nutrients could prevent specific complications that might occur during pregnancy such as neural tube defects, cleft lip/palate, spina bifida and pre-term labor.

Can I take regular multi-vitamins instead

No. Regular multi-vitamins and prenatal vitamins may contain a lot of the same vitamins and minerals. However, it is the quantity will differ. Your body’s nutrient requirements vary when you are pregnant, which is why you will not only need more of each vitamin, but regular multi-vitamins may not contain all the vitamins that are required during pregnancy.

When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?

The ideal time to start taking prenatal vitamins is three months before you conceive!

Knowing 3 months in advance that you are about to get pregnant is an impossibility, of course, so we suggest that you increase your folic acid and iron intake if you are currently trying to conceive. The folic acid will aid in preventing complications such as spina bifida, neural tube defects, etc. and it is crucial that you have enough of these nutrients during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

As with life, falling pregnant is not always something that is always planned, so should your pregnancy come as a surprise, start taking your prenatal vitamins as soon as you find out!

What happens if I do not take prenatal vitamins?

If you decline to take prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, you put both yourself and your baby at risk. Your baby will receive that which he or she needs from your body first, often leaving you depleted of the nutrients that your own body requires to function if you not supplement.

This could lead to serious health issues for yourself for example if your calcium intake is not sufficient, you could lose bone density during pregnancy. Too little iron will also leave you feeling weak and dizzy and could cause you to fall, hurting either yourself or your baby. If you have too little nutrients for your baby, it could lead to severe complications for your baby as well.

While we encourage a healthy balanced diet, it is probably wise not to rely on your diet alone to get all the nutrients you and your baby requires during pregnancy. Better safe than sorry.

Organic prenatal vitamins versus inorganic prenatal vitamins

Many women these days prefer to take natural prenatal vitamins instead of generic, inorganic prenatal vitamins.

While there’s been no sufficient proof that one is more beneficial than the other regarding the benefits to yourself or your baby, your body might react slightly different to the two different types of vitamins with organic vitamins claiming to dull pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness.

Organic prenatal vitamins are also usually slightly more expensive compared to generic prenatal vitamins but seeing that both provide you and your baby with the correct nutrients required, it probably comes down to your personal lifestyle choices.

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Prenatal vitamins post-baby:

Mothers should continue taking prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding seeing that your body will demand additional nutrients to best feed your little one. The quality of your diet will indeed have an impact on the quality of breast milk that you provide your little one with and prenatal vitamins will assist you in providing the best you possibly can for your newborn.

You can also benefit from prenatal vitamins in the first few months even you decide not to breastfeed. Most women lose a sufficient amount of blood during birth, causing them to be iron deficient which in return will lead to feeling tired when you need your energy the most.

It is, however, recommended that you do not continue on prenatal vitamins for too long after baby is born seeing that your body does not require the same amount of iron as when pregnant. Getting too much iron could lead to toxicity over time.

Healthy weight gain during pregnancy

As promised, we are taking a peek at how much weight one should gain during pregnancy.

Weight gain during pregnancy will depend on your pre-pregnancy weight. If you maintained a healthy weight before pregnancy, you should gain between 25 – 35 pounds during your pregnancy. If you were underweight before getting pregnant, you should aim at gaining a little more weight, around 28 – 40 pounds. Overweight people should try to gain no more than 15 – 25 pounds during pregnancy.

Note that the information given is only a guide and should not be considered as medical advice. Every pregnancy is unique and different, and you should just follow the medical advice provided by your doctor.

In conclusion:

Now that we have a clear answer on whether or not prenatal vitamins make you gain weight during pregnancy, I urge every single one of you to bust this myth should you ever come across it. Not only is it untrue but should an expectant mother decline prenatal vitamins based on this fact alone, she could be putting herself and her baby in harm’s way.

Gaining weight is a part of pregnancy, embrace it. There’s nothing more beautiful in this world than a healthy, pregnant mom.

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