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Q&A: Can Women NOT Take Prenatal Vitamins?

April C. Sanchez, M.D.


Q I am a first time "GRANDMA TO BE". Besides being happy I am very upset. My daughter & her husband are expecting their first baby she is 34 yrs. old. I asked if she is taking pre-natal vitiamins, and she said "NO", that gets sick from them. She said her OB doctor said it's okay not to take pre-natal vitiams. I STRONGLY DISAGREE. What do you think? I fear it will harm the baby if she does not take the proper vitiams. Conserned future Grandma & Grandpa.

A Yes, you are correct in your assertion that prenatal vitamins are an important part of a healthy prenatal regimen. Most importantly, prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, which helps to prevent malformations of the brain and spinal cord of the fetus. Prenatal vitamins also contain a variety of other nutrients necessary for the mother and fetus.

However, the vitamins do no good if they cannot be tolerated by the mother. In fact, if they induce vomiting, the mother may lose vital nutrients which she injested from other food sources. The main source of nutrients for a pregnant woman does come from her diet.

There are a few solutions to the problem, one of which may work for your daughter. There are available, by prescription, chewable prenatal vitamins. Some women have an easier time with these, especially if they feel a large vitamin is difficult to swallow. One brand of these vitamins, Natachew, is said to be similar to children's chewable vitamins. Larger pills may cause a gag reflex and vomiting as they seem to get "stuck in the throat on the way down." Also, there is a relatively new vitamin called Premesis Rx, which is available by prescription. This vitamin contains the folic acid necessary for fetal development as well as B vitamins which have been shown to decrease the nausea of pregnancy. Premesis Rx is designed to be taken in conjunction with a regular prenatal vitamin, but may be used alone if the vitamin cannot be tolerated. At least it provides the recommended dose of folic acid.

Some women cannot tolerate even these newer alternatives. Folic acid is naturally found in dark, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, and whole grain breads and cereals. Most cereals are also fortified with many other vitamins and can be a good dietary choice for the pregnant woman who cannot tolerate vitamins.

The good news is that for most women, the nausea subsides after the first trimester. This makes it much easier to ensure adequate nutrition.

April C. Sanchez, M.D.

Click here to Ask Dr. Sanchez your pregnancy questions.

Dr Sanchez lives with her husband and two boys ages 6 and 2 in Mandeville, Louisinana. She is a Board Certified OBGYN with a dregree from Louisiana State University Medical School. She completed her residency through the Tulane University Medical School Residency Program. She also received a Surgical Excellence Award.

Total Woman Care

She is now practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology at Total Woman Care, in Manderville, Louisiana. The Total Woman Care website, ( is an "Advanced" Obstetrics and Gynecology Practice that cares and provides for the needs of women with total Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding. Dedicated to Provide Obstetrics and Gynecology Related Information for the Women of West St Tammany Parish.

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Jeannetta Aug 7, 2012 02:36:35 PM ET

I took my prenatal vitamins my first 3 or 4 months and then i quit taking them because my friend told me it was on the news that prenatal vitamins are harming unborn babies . is that true ? because my mother is freaking out because i quit taking them but what i herd is scaring me so please help me out thank you .

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