Prenatal vitamins are designed to give you and your baby critical nutrient support for a healthy pregnancy. Whether you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant, your body has extra nutrient demands that are difficult to meet with a whole food balanced diet alone.

What do prenatal vitamins do?

Prenatal vitamins give you the vitamins and minerals you need before, during, and after pregnancy. (1, 2)

Here is how prenatal vitamins support you and your baby when trying to conceive and during pregnancy:


Fertility health support

Research shows that deficiencies in vitamins A, B6, D, E, and B12, iron, and folate may make it difficult to reach your fertility goals. (3) Supplementation for these key nutrients will support your body as you pursue them.

If you are undergoing fertility treatment, research shows that supplementation with methylfolate and B12 may support assisted reproductive technology. (4)

Placenta development

During pregnancy, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to your baby, provides immune health support, removes waste and carbon dioxide, and produces hormones. (5)

Research shows that prenatal vitamin ingredients including iron, probiotics, and vitamin D, provide beneficial support for placenta development. (6, 7, 8)


Fetal development

By the sixth week of your pregnancy, your baby’s neural tube closes. Your baby’s brain, spinal cord, and skull develop from the neural tube. (2, 9)

A prenatal vitamin that includes methylfolate is essential to supporting neural tube development and neurological health including memory, visual, and language skills. (1, 2)


Healthy iron stores

Pregnant women, babies, and infants are at risk of iron deficiency. During pregnancy, your body needs extra iron to support fetal and placenta development and to increase your red blood cell volume. Unfortunately, many women are deficient in iron. (10) Prenatal vitamins with iron can help reduce the risk of iron deficiency during pregnancy.


Vitamin D supplementation

Vitamin D is an essential micronutrient for women trying to conceive and for pregnancy support. When you’re trying to conceive, vitamin D helps regulate your sex hormones. A prenatal vitamin should include vitamin D. Research shows that it may support better birth outcomes for women receiving fertility treatments and it might help reduce miscarriage risk during the first trimester. (11, 12, 13)


Daily nutritional support

It’s not always easy to eat a balanced whole-foods diet to give your body all of the extra nutrients it needs before,  during, and after pregnancy. A prenatal vitamin can help you fill nutritional gaps and give you the extra support you and your baby need for better overall health.


Essential prenatal vitamin ingredients

It’s important your prenatal vitamin contains these essential ingredients:

1. Folate

Folate is the generic term for vitamin B9. Folate is a critical nutrient for methylation, a vital process that occurs in every cell of your body.

Folic acid, methylfolate, folinic acid, and food folate are all forms of folate. However, these subtypes of folate are not the same.

Folic acid is the form commonly found in multivitamins because it is cheaper and more stable. But people with the MTHFR gene variation (up to 60% of people) metabolize folic acid inefficiently or not at all.

Because of this we only use methylfolate in our formulas. Methylfolate is the active form of folate found in our bodies. Your body can convert and use methylfolate immediately. 

2.   Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is critical to your baby’s development and your health. (14, 15, 16, 17) Vitamin B12:

  • Supports central nervous system and brain development
  • Is essential for DNA creation
  • Helps make serotonin, which affects your mood, sleep, and memory
  • Supports red blood cell production
  • Supports production of SAMe, which is required for healthy immune function

3.   Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is another essential micronutrient in prenatal vitamins that: (18, 19, 20, 21)

  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Supports healthy blood vessels
  • Helps support neurotransmitter development
  • May reduce nausea and morning sickness

4. Choline

Choline has several critical roles during pregnancy, including tissue expansion, brain development, and neurotransmission. Sufficient intake of choline is critical for proper brain function and neurodevelopment. (22, 23)

Choline is a bulky ingredient, making it difficult to include it in a once-day prenatal vitamin. This is why we offer our Mama Bird AM/PM Prenatal Multi+ a twice-daily prenatal vitamin with the extra choline you need. We also have Mama Bird Mineral Complex which is perfect to pair with any prenatal vitamin.

5. Iron

Iron is used to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to organs and tissues, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. This essential nutrient is critical to growth, development, and hormone production. (24)

During pregnancy, your body needs extra blood volume to deliver nutrients and oxygen to your baby. Researchers report women who consumed iron supplements had a significantly lower risk of ovulatory infertility compared to women who did not use iron supplements. Experts also believe iron deficiency is related to babies being born prematurely or undersized. (25)

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is a global health crisis, with an estimated 50% of the population deficient in this micronutrient. Consuming vitamin D is essential for women trying to conceive or who are pregnant. (26)

Vitamin D has many roles including helping with calcium absorption, providing immune support, and supporting communication between your brain and body. (27)

7. Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that have a diverse role in your whole-body health before, during, and after pregnancy. (28, 29, 30, 31) Probiotics:

  • Encourage better digestion and healthy regularity
  • Balance intestinal flora and nutrient absorption
  • Help make serotonin
  • Support your immune response
  • Influence brain function through the Gut Microbiome System to address brain fog and slight memory issues

8. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is categorized into two groups: retinoids and carotenoids. We include both forms in our prenatal vitamins to help support those who have trouble converting provitamin A compounds (beta-carotene) into the active retinyl/retinol forms. Both types of vitamin A: (32, 33, 34)

  • Support reproductive health
  • Maintain visual development
  • Support a healthy immune system
  • Help with the formation of new brain cells
  • Support skin health
  • Contribute to memory and learning

9.  Zinc

Zinc has an important role in hormone production and fertility, affecting estrogen and progesterone production. This trace mineral is active within all bodily tissues:

  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Contributes to brain cell processing
  • Supports communication between brain cells
  • Supports learning, thinking, and reasoning

In addition to these essential prenatal vitamin ingredients, DHA is an important nutrient before, during, and after pregnancy. Your baby’s brain, spinal cord, and eyes need DHA to develop properly. (35) DHA:

  • Supports a healthy immune system
  • Supports the formation of brain cells and brain cell connections
  • Helps release serotonin for memory, sleep, mood, and behavior

To ensure you are getting adequate DHA before, during, and after pregnancy, we recommend taking DHA as a separate supplement. It’s important you are receiving the triglyceride form of DHA. This is the form of DHA that is closest to its natural state, is ultra-purified, and is free of mercury. We only use real triglyceride oil. We avoid ethyl ester oil which can break down into alcohol in your body.

Our Mama Bird Prenatal DHA and Vegan Prenatal DHA are crafted for preparing, pregnant, and lactating mothers.


(1) Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, How to choose (Accessed August 2, 2022)

(2) Fetal development: The 1st trimester (Accessed August 2, 2022)

(3) Nutrition and Female Fertility: An Interdependent Correlation. Frontier in Endocrinology. 2019;10:346. Published 2019 Jun 7

(4) 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate and Vitamin B12 Supplementation Is Associated with Clinical Pregnancy and Live Birth in Women Undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Nov 23;18(23):12280

(5) Placenta (Accessed August 2, 2022)

(6) Maternal iron homeostasis: effect on placental development and function. Reproduction. Volume 160: Issue 4. Pages R65-R78. Published Oct 2020$002frep$002f160$002f4$002fREP-20-0271.xml

(7) Vitamin D Effects on Pregnancy and the Placenta. 2010 Dec;31(12):1027-34. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2010.08.015. Epub 2010 Sep 22. PMID: 20863562; PMCID: PMC2993775.

(8) Placental Impact of Dietary Supplements: More Than Micronutrients. Clin Ther. 2021 Feb;43(2):226-245. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2020.11.017. Epub 2020 Dec 23. PMID: 33358257; PMCID: PMC8026523.

(9) Folic Acid Now (Accessed August 2, 2022) CDC

(10) Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Nutritional Status During Pregnancy and Lactation. Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I Weight Gain: Part II Nutrient Supplements. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990. 14, Iron Nutrition During Pregnancy.

(11) Shedding new light on female fertility: The role of vitamin D, Rev Endocr Metab Disord DOI 10.1007/s11154-017-9407-2.

(12) Vitamin D linked with better live birth rates in women undergoing assisted reproduction. (Accessed July 11, 2022) ScienceDaily

(13) Insufficient vitamin D linked to miscarriage among women with prior pregnancy loss. (Accessed July 11, 2022) National Institutes of Health

(14) The effects of vitamin B12 supplementation in pregnancy and postpartum on growth and neurodevelopment in early childhood: Study Protocol for a Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial, BMJ Open, 2017 Aug 29;7(8):e016434.

(15) Folate and vitamin B-12 deficiencies additively impaired memory function and disturbed the gut microbiota in amyloid-β infused rats, Int J Vitam Nutr Res, 2019 Dec 16, 1-13.

(16) New insights into erythropoiesis: the roles of folate, vitamin B12, and iron, Annual Review of Nutrition, 2004;24:105-31.

(17) Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course, Nutrients, 2018 Oct; 10(10): 1531, Published online 2018 Oct 17.

(18) Vitamin B6 and Immune Competence, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 51, Issue 8, August 1993, Pages 217–225. Tufts University, USA.

(19) Vitamin B6: A Molecule for Human Health? MDPI, Molecules 2010, 15(1), 442-459; Published: 20 January 2010.

(20) The aetiological role of maternal vitamin-B6 deficiency in the development of atherosclerosis, Lancet, London, England, 1977 Mar 19;1(8012):628-30.

(21) Natural Sources of Vitamin B During Pregnancy (Accessed August 2, 2022) American Pregnancy Association

(22) Long-term effects of maternal choline supplementation on CA1 pyramidal neuron gene expression in the Ts65Dn mouse model of Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. FASEB J. 2019 Sep;33(9):9871-9884.

(23) Choline: Exploring the Growing Science on Its Benefits for Moms and Babies. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1823. Published 2019 Aug 7.

(24) Iron: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals (Accessed August 2, 2022) National Institutes of Health

(25) Iron intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Nov;108(5):1145-52.

(26) Vitamin D Deficiency. [Updated 2022 May 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.

27) Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Consumers (Accessed July 11, 2022) National Institutes of Health

(28) Probiotics: effects on immunity, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 73, Issue 2, February 2001, Pages 444s–450s.

(29) The Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis, Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Volume 6, Issue 2, 2018, Pages 133-148.

(30) Probiotics and pregnancy, Curr Diab Rep, 2015 Jan;15(1):567.

(31) Probiotic Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 Improves Protein Absorption and Utilization, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, Probiotics Antimicrob Proteins, 2018 Dec;10(4):611-615.

(32) Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage, Nat Rev Immunol, 2008 Sep;8(9):685-98.

(33) Vitamin A: its many roles-from vision and synaptic plasticity to infant mortality, J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol, 2020 May;206(3):389-399. Epub 2020 Feb 7.

(34) Role of Vitamin A in Mammary Gland Development and Lactation, Nutrients, 2019 Dec 27;12(1):80.

(35) Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the developing central nervous system (CNS) – Implications for dietary recommendations, Biochimie, Volume 93, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 7-12.