Women

Your Pregnancy After 35 : Your Current Medical Condition and Medications (part 4) - Vitamin and Mineral Supplements, Prenatal Vitamins

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Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Be cautious about taking vitamin and mineral supplements during pregnancy. Often people don’t think of vitamins and minerals as harmful, but they can be, especially to your developing baby. Use only those vitamins and minerals your healthcare provider recommends you use or prescribes for you.

Safe Over-the-Counter Medications

Some OTC medications considered fairly safe to use while you’re pregnant include:

acetaminophen (Tylenol)

antacids (Amphojel, Gelusil, Maalox, milk of magnesia)

throat lozenges (Sucrets)

decongestants (chlorpheniramine, Sudafed)

antidiarrheal preparations (Kaopectate)

anti-itch preparations (Benadryl)

some cough medicines (Robitussin)

hemorrhoid preparations (Anusol, Preparation H)

Many vitamin supplements and “megavitamins” sold in health-food stores contain very high amounts of minerals, vitamins and other substances. Even some foods contain extra vitamins and minerals. Some of these supplements could adversely affect your developing baby.

Avoid any vitamins or minerals other than your prenatal vitamin and iron and/or folic-acid supplements unless prescribed by your healthcare provider specifically for you. Read labels on various foods you eat. Don’t self-medicate with other vitamins or minerals—you don’t need them, and they can be dangerous if taken in excessive amounts.

Prenatal vitamins contain the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy. They are prescribed to ensure your health and your baby’s health.

Prenatal Vitamins

At your first prenatal visit, your healthcare provider will probably give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins. It’s very important for you to take these vitamins for your entire pregnancy.

Each vitamin contains many essential ingredients for the development of your baby and your continued good health, which is why we want you to take them every day until your baby is born. A typical prenatal vitamin contains the following:

calcium to build baby’s teeth and bones and to help strengthen yours

copper to help prevent anemia and to aid in bone formation

folic acid to reduce the risk of neural-tube defects and to aid red blood cell production

iodine to help control metabolism

iron to prevent anemia and to help baby’s blood development

vitamins A, B1 and E for general health

vitamins B2, B3, B6 for metabolism

vitamin B12 to promote formation of blood

vitamin C to aid in your body’s absorption of iron

vitamin D to strengthen baby’s bones and teeth, and to help your body use phosphorus and calcium

zinc to help balance fluids in your body and to aid nerve and muscle function

It’s important to know how to take your medicine to get the greatest benefits. Read the label before you take it. Should you take it with food? Before food? After food? No food? A certain number of hours before or after food? When you get up? Before you go to bed? Should you drink extra liquids, avoid milk products or take it in some other special way? Knowing when you should and shouldn’t mix a medication with a food or beverage can increase the benefits of the medicine. Some combinations can be dangerous. Always read directions for taking a medication. If you have questions, discuss them with your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

Sometimes, late in pregnancy, a woman stops taking her prenatal vitamins; she gets tired of taking them or she decides they aren’t necessary. Studies show nearly half of all pregnant women who are prescribed prenatal vitamins don’t take them regularly. The vitamins and iron in prenatal vitamins are essential to the well-being of your baby, so take your prenatal vitamins every day until your baby is born.

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