If you are struggling to get pregnant, it might seem like everyone around you is having babies with ease. Many people assume that they will be able to get pregnant immediately and are unpleasantly surprised when it takes longer than expected, while others are facing known health issues that make conception a challenge.
If you are hoping to get pregnant, you might have heard stories about women who struggle to get pregnant until they start taking prenatal vitamins and then happen to get pregnant right away, but can prenatal vitamins help you get pregnant?
What is the difference between multivitamins and prenatal vitamins?
Most people are aware that nutrient supplementation is important, but not everyone knows the difference between multivitamins and prenatal vitamins. Both contain important vitamins and minerals, but they are formulated quite differently. Multivitamins are formulated to contain the proper amount of vitamins and minerals for adults and may be different for men and women. However, the nutritional needs of pregnant women are substantially different than those of other adults. Prenatal vitamins are designed to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women and can also be used postpartum to support lactation. Pregnant women need much higher amounts of folate, iron, and calcium compared to other adults, and standard multivitamins do not provide these vitamins and minerals in the amount required for fetal development. While prenatal vitamins supply certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in higher quantities than standard multivitamins, they are still not a substitute for eating a healthy diet.
Pregnant women still need to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein in order to meet their daily nutritional requirements. In addition to providing certain vitamins and minerals in larger quantities, prenatal vitamins also do not contain vitamins or minerals that can cause birth defects when consumed in large amounts, such as vitamin A. The body needs vitamin A to function properly, but most people receive enough from their daily diets, and the vitamin can cause birth defects in pregnant women who consume too much. Therefore, most prenatal vitamins avoid vitamin A and other potentially harmful vitamins and minerals altogether.
What are the benefits of prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins may not help you get pregnant, but they are important for many other reasons and offer tons of benefits for pregnant women and the development of the growing fetus. Prenatal vitamins offer a host of benefits pertaining to supporting healthy growth and development, including:
- Folate, or folic acid (vitamin B9) is essential for the prevention of congenital birth defects relating to the development of the neural tube, which cause deformities to the spinal cord and brain.
- The inclusion of iron in a prenatal vitamin helps reduce the likelihood that the mother will experience iron deficiency anemia and supports the proper development of the baby’s blood cells and muscle cells.
- Growing fetuses need a sufficient supply of calcium for the development of strong bones and teeth, and without it, they start leaching calcium from the mother, who can experience bone density depletion. In addition to keeping the bones of the mother strong and supporting fetal development, calcium also helps to maintain proper function of the nervous, muscular, and circulatory systems.
Can prenatal vitamins help you get pregnant?
Despite what your high school health class probably made it sound like, getting pregnant often isn’t as simple as it seems. Many couples struggle with infertility and are looking for anything that can help them conceive. There is some confusion surrounding whether prenatal vitamins can help women get pregnant. While one study showed that women taking prenatal vitamins were more likely to get pregnant while undergoing fertility treatments than women taking folic acid only, most studies have not demonstrated any difference in your chances of conception. However, taking a prenatal vitamin when you are trying to conceive is important in order to support a healthy pregnancy. The right time to start taking a prenatal vitamin is before you start trying to conceive. Women who are hoping to boost their fertility may benefit from using a fertility enhancement supplement.
When should I start using a prenatal vitamins?
Some women think that the time to start using a prenatal vitamin is when they find out that they are pregnant. After all, if prenatal vitamins don’t help you get pregnant, then why take one before pregnancy? However, doctors recommend taking a prenatal vitamin if you are planning to get pregnant starting up to three months before trying to conceive. This gives you ample time to address any existing nutritional deficiencies that may be incompatible with pregnancy, particularly folic acid. Women must have an adequate supply of folic acid when they get pregnant in order to prevent neural tube defects. The development of the neural tube occurs in the first month of pregnancy, before many women know that they are pregnant. Therefore, if you wait until you find out that you are pregnant to start taking a prenatal vitamin and you have an existing folate deficiency, your baby is at higher risk of experiencing neural tube defects that impact the development of the brain and spine. Start using prenatal vitamins about three months before trying to conceive in order to address any existing deficiencies. Other vitamins are designed to address common fertility issues, such as irregular menstrual periods, failure to ovulate, and polycystic ovary syndrome. These supplements can be taken in conjunction with prenatal vitamins while trying to conceive in order to support conception. Following childbirth, it is recommended that women switch to a postnatal vitamin in order to support healthy lactation, mood and cognitive function.
What nutrients should I look for in a prenatal vitamin?
Prenatal vitamins are all different, and some are higher quality than others. When looking for a prenatal vitamin, the most important thing is to choose a prenatal vitamin that contains all the nutrients you and your baby need to support a healthy pregnancy. Look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin B9 in the form of folate, iron, vitamin B6, iodine, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and choline.
What can I do to improve my chances of getting pregnant?
Prenatal vitamins may not improve your chances of getting pregnant, but they do help support a healthy pregnancy right from the very beginning. If you’re eager to get pregnant, there are some other steps you can take to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
- Take a fertility enhancing supplement. Infertility affects about 15 percent of couples who are trying to conceive, and many of the reasons why couples are infertile are very common. Reasons why women may struggle to conceive include menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovary syndrome, and failure to ovulate, among many others. Women who are trying to conceive can help address nutrient deficiencies that contribute to some of these issues by taking a fertility enhancing supplement that is specially formulated to support your reproductive system and enhance fertility.
- Reach a healthy weight. You might be surprised to know that your fertility is heavily influenced by your weight. Women who are even moderately overweight or significantly underweight can have a harder time getting pregnant due to the influence that your weight has on your reproductive hormones, which are responsible for reliable ovulation and successful conception. The number of fat cells in the body influences the production of estrogen, and women who have too much fat will overproduce estrogen, while having too little fat will cause your body to make too little estrogen. Either way, your best bet is to talk to your doctor to make sure you are at a healthy weight in order to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is always bad for you, but it is especially dangerous during pregnancy and can make getting pregnant more difficult. Smoking is commonly associated with preterm birth and low birth weight, among other issues, so the time to quit is before you start trying to conceive.
- Work on your fitness. Doctors recommend that women who are trying to get pregnant work on getting and staying in shape in order to improve their chances of conception. Not only does being in shape make pregnancy and delivery easier, doing a moderate workout of about 30 minutes each day can also help boost your chances of getting pregnant. However, working out too much, especially if it causes you to become underweight, can have the opposite effect.
- Reduce your stress. Everyone gets stressed out from time to time, especially while trying to get pregnant. However, extreme stress, like the kind caused by an unhealthy relationship, horrible boss, or financial stress, can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Improve your chances for conception by making time to unwind, and cutting as much stress out of your life as possible.