Pregnancy and breastfeeding can be some of the most exciting experiences in a woman’s life. However, they can also be very confusing. Your doctor may talk to you about what is safe to eat and drink and what medications you should avoid, but what about vitamins?
What vitamins should I be TAKING?
Folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) is one of the most important vitamins to take before pregnancy and in early pregnancy because it helps prevent very serious birth defects. Pregnant women and women who are planning to become pregnant should take at least 400 micrograms (or 0.4 milligrams) of folic acid per day. Your doctor may recommend taking a prescription strength folic acid supplement if you are at a higher risk.
Calcium and vitamin D help your baby build strong bones and teeth. Pregnant women need 1000 milligrams of calcium and 600 units of vitamin D per day. Once your baby is born, breast milk does not provide infants with enough vitamin D, even if the mother taking a daily vitamin. Babies who are breastfed or partially breastfed should be given 400 units of vitamin D per day. Vitamin D comes in liquid drops for use in babies.
Iron helps your blood to supply oxygen to your body. When you are pregnant, your need for iron increases because your baby needs oxygen, too. Not getting enough iron can increase the risk of your baby being born too early. Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron per day. Your doctor will check the iron levels in your blood and may recommend more iron if needed.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is important for your baby’s brain and eye development. Pregnant women need 200 milligrams of DHA per day.
Iodine is important to help your thyroid gland make hormones, which helps your baby’s brain and nervous system develop. Pregnant women need 220 micrograms of iodine per day. Breastfeeding women need 290 micrograms of iodine per day.
A good prenatal multivitamin has all of these components, so you typically do not need to take additional vitamins. Prenatal multivitamins can be found at Bremo Pharmacy. Your doctor may recommend taking different amounts than what is recommended. Talk to your doctor if you have questions regarding your specific vitamin needs.
What vitamins should I be LIMITING?
Vitamin A is important for your baby’s growth, but can be dangerous in high doses. Most people get plenty of vitamin A from their diet and most multivitamins contain some amount of vitamin A. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is safe to take these multivitamins, but do not take any additional vitamin A or double up on multivitamins.
In developed countries like the United States, vitamin supplements are not typically necessary for breastfeeding women. Excessive intake of vitamin A should still be avoided and mothers should make sure they are getting enough iodine (as mentioned above).
If you have questions, you can always ask our Bremo pharmacists! They can help you navigate multivitamin labels and identify potential food sources of these vitamins. They can also check your medication list for potential interactions between vitamins and your medications.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, we can help you find the right vitamins to keep you and your baby healthy. We also have resources for maternal care, such as breast pumps and breastfeeding remedies.
Amanda VanInwegen, PharmD Candidate 2020
Breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health. http://www.ods.od.nih.gov. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Breastfeeding. Office on Women’s Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding. Accessed September 16, 2019.
Pregnancy. Office on Women’s Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy. Accessed September 16, 2019.