Pregnancy Home > Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins provide important vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy. They are also beneficial for women who are breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant. You can buy prenatal vitamins over the counter, but some are only available with a prescription. They come in several forms, including tablets, softgels, chewable tablets, and as a liquid. Side effects may include nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.

What Are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamin and mineral supplements that are specifically designed for pregnant women. They are also beneficial for women who are breastfeeding or trying to conceive. Some prenatal vitamins are only available with a prescription (see Prescription Prenatal Vitamins), although several non-prescription forms are also available (see Over-the-Counter Prenatal Vitamins).
 
(Click Prenatal Vitamin Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Do I Need a Prenatal Vitamin?

If you are careful to eat a balanced and nutritious diet, you may not need to take a prenatal vitamin. It is particularly important to get enough folic acid, calcium, and iron. However, it is difficult for most women to get all of the nutrients they need just through dietary means, due to a variety of reasons, such as morning sickness, food allergies, restrictive diets (such as a vegetarian diet), or simply busy lifestyles.
 
Because prenatal vitamins are safe and inexpensive, most healthcare providers recommend them for all pregnant women.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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