It is important that your body has a good balance of vitamins and minerals in order to promote a healthy pregnancy. Sufficient vitamins for a healthy pregnancy may be consumed within a balanced diet, however, there are government recommendations of supplements that are suggested to ensure certain essential vitamin levels are maintained.
It is advised that women take folic acid whilst trying to get pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This has been proven to reduce the risks of rare neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida.
It is recommended that women take 400 micrograms daily. In some cases, where there is an increased risk of Spina Bifida or you are taking drugs for a medical condition, a higher dosage may be prescribed.
You are entitled to free folic acid on the NHS during this period and your GP will prescribe it for you at your initial appointment. It can be collected from any chemist with a dispensary.
A good supply of Vitamin D is required for pregnant women to maintain the health of their teeth and bones, as well as providing an adequate supply to the baby. A lack of Vitamin D in children may increase the risk of bone softening which can lead to Rickets.
The sun provides our main source of Vitamin D, so women who have reduced exposure to natural sunlight may be depleted. Your risks increase if you spend prolonged periods of time indoors or wear clothing which fully covers your skin whilst outdoors.
If you are living in specific boroughs of London such as Lambeth, you will be eligible to claim free vitamin D through pregnancy and during your breastfeeding period.
Check with your GP or Midwife first, but it is generally recommended that pregnant women take 10 micrograms of Vitamin D daily.
You may also choose to take a multi-vitamin supplement to boost your dietary intake. There are lots of brands which are specifically aimed towards pregnancy. Many of these will include Folic acid and Vitamin D, so check the label first. It is advisable to stick to the recommended dosage of vitamin supplementation during pregnancy, as your body may not benefit from taking increased doses.
There is currently a government scheme known as ‘Healthy Start’ which provides eligible pregnant women with vouchers for milk, vegetables and healthy start vitamin tablets at local shops. The vouchers are aimed at low-income families, although some NHS hospitals will either provide free or sell healthy start tablets, which contain vitamin D, Vitamin C and Folic Acid. Check with your Midwife during your first appointment.
It has been advised not to take Vitamin A (retinol) supplements during pregnancy, as too much Vitamin A could harm your baby.