The side effects of prenatal vitamins may include digestive problems, body aches, or changes to your skin and hair. These side effects are also common side effects of being pregnant. If you are experiencing prenatal vitamin side effects, there are solutions to ease these symptoms. (1)
What are Common Side Effects of Prenatal Vitamins?
The common side effects of prenatal vitamins may include stomach and digestive discomfort, body aches, skin concerns, or even the hiccups. It can be difficult to know if your prenatal vitamin is causing these symptoms or if they are side effects of being pregnant. (1)
- Nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, or stomach discomfort
During pregnancy, your stomach is sensitive due to slowed digestion. And due to changes in your hormones, you may be extra sensitive to smell, and your sense of taste may change. These changes may make it challenging to swallow and digest your prenatal vitamins. (2,3)
- What causes constipation during pregnancy?
The iron in your prenatal vitamin can cause constipation, though constipation is common during pregnancy, regardless of iron intake. Your growing baby and uterus put pressure on your rectum and lower intestine. Higher levels of progesterone slow muscular contractions. Together these pregnancy changes may cause food to move more slowly through your intestines, causing constipation. (1,4)
- Gas or bloating
The increased levels of progesterone during pregnancy relax your muscles, including those in your intestine. When your intestine slows down, your digestion also slows, causing gas to accumulate, which may result in bloating, burping, or flatulence. Some ingredients in your prenatal vitamin may also cause this digestive discomfort. (5)
- Hair and skin changes
Some pregnant mamas may experience hair loss or growth or skin changes including dry, itchy skin or rashes. These symptoms may be side effects of your prenatal vitamins, or they may be due to the hormonal changes you’re experiencing during pregnancy. (6)
Weight gain is not a side effect of your prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins do not contain calories. Weight gain during pregnancy is caused by your growing baby and your body changing to support and encourage a healthy pregnancy. (7,8)
How to Manage Prenatal Vitamin Side Effects
It is important to continue taking prenatal vitamins to give you the vitamins and minerals you need to support a healthy pregnancy and healthy neurodevelopment for your baby. But, if you are experiencing prenatal side effects, consult your care provider. (9)
To manage prenatal vitamin side effects these tips may help:
- To ease nausea and stomach upset, take a half tablet of your prenatal vitamin in the morning for four days. If you’re doing okay after this, add the other half tablet in the evening for four days. If you continue to feel okay, switch to taking an entire prenatal vitamin tablet daily at whatever time works best for you. Watch my video about what to do if your prenatal vitamin upsets your stomach.
- To help relieve symptoms of nausea and morning sickness, look for a prenatal vitamin that contains probiotics and digestive enzymes, which can aid digestion. Herbs such as ginger and chamomile also help ease nausea. A prenatal vitamin with probiotics, enzymes, and herbs is gentler on the stomach.
Another way to ease nausea and morning sickness is to look for a pregnancy-safe herbal morning sickness supplement. Make sure your morning sickness supplement contains ginger – an ingredient with a long history of reducing nausea associated with morning sickness. (10)
- To ease digestive problems, try taking your prenatal vitamin with food. Our prenatal vitamins are designed to be taken without food – but you can take them with food. Everyone is different, so do what makes it easiest for you to take prenatal vitamins. (10)
- To help manage constipation make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Water keeps things moving through your system and bowel movements soft. Try to drink 10 cups of water a day and avoid drinks high in sugar and carbonated drinks since these may cause more bloating and gas. (9)
- To ease digestive discomfort side effects, try to get in daily exercise. Exercise stimulates digestion, may help prevent constipation, and keeps you regular. Low impact exercise, such as walking, is great to support regular digestion. (9)
- Gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort can be exacerbated by some foods. Try keeping a food diary, tracking when you take your prenatal vitamin and the foods you’re eating. This can help you identify any problem foods and highlight if you feel better taking your prenatal vitamin with or without food. (10)
- To help support your digestion and balance your intestinal flora, a probiotic may help. Probiotics can encourage the growth of more beneficial bacteria in your gut, which can help your intestines move food through. (11)
- Review the ingredients in your prenatal vitamin. Some prenatal vitamins may include ingredients that trigger taste or smell aversions and cause hair or skin side effects, body aches, or digestive discomfort. Make sure your prenatal vitamin does not contain artificial colors or flavors, is free of dairy, soy, nuts, and gluten, and is non-GMO.
You may not experience any side effects from your prenatal vitamins. Your pregnancy experience is unique, and you may not have the same symptoms as your friends or other mamas. And keep in mind it can be difficult to differentiate prenatal vitamin side effects from common pregnancy symptoms.
Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins
The benefits of prenatal vitamins strongly outweigh any symptoms you may be experiencing. We understand that nausea, constipation, gas, and other symptoms are not pleasant, but these are often due to the changes happening in your body to support your growing baby.
Prenatal vitamins provide a broad spectrum of health benefits for you and your baby including fertility support, placenta development, healthy iron stores, fetal development, and more. (9)
A prenatal vitamin can help you fill nutritional gaps and give you the extra support you and your baby need for overall health. Critical growth and development happen during every month of your pregnancy, this is why your healthcare practitioner recommends you take a daily prenatal vitamin. (9)
If you’re struggling with symptoms and side effects, please discuss these with your healthcare practitioner while continuing to take your prenatal vitamins – they are important for your healthy pregnancy and baby. (9)