Prenatal Vitamins - the low down on what to take as well as some South African brand names I recommend

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One of the first things you will start reading about once you are pregnant (or perhaps you were very prepared before hand and had already started taking these) is the advice to take a good prenatal vitamin.

If you have been trying to have a baby, you will probably have already been taking one for a while, but if you are pregnant already and haven't been taking one yet, don't worry too much but start taking one as soon as you can. Not only is your body going to need lots more nutrients in the coming months, but your little bundle is going to need all the help he/she can get to start growing.

There is  lot of great info out there on the quantities you need of each vitamin, but as I am not really a label reader and was very relaxed in my first few weeks of pregnancy, here are the basics:

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1. Folic Acid (good for BEFORE, DURING & AFTER pregnancy)

Neural tube defects occur at a very early stage of development, before many women even know they're pregnant – which is why it's recommended to start taking folic acid before you start trying to conceive.

Recommended Dosage: 500 micrograms or (5 milligrams) per day

You don't need to buy a fancy folic acid, you can get a bottle of them (little yellow pills) over the counter at Clicks or Dischem. Just make sure you do check the labels properly...I nearly walked out with what I though was a really great deal on Folic Acid at Clicks, only to look closer and see that the R22 bottle was for 0.5 micrograms per tablet.

Folic Acid is a teeny tiny yellow pill that is taken once a day. If you take nothing else for the duration of your pregnancy, at least ensure you take Folic Acid.

Price: +-R80 for 100 tablets (which is just over 3 months supply)

2. Prenatal Multivitamin

Pregnavit M ~ (BEFORE, DURING & AFTER pregnancy)

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For the first 3 months I took Pregnavit M (pictured above) which I bought from Clicks and Dischem for about R70 for 30 capsules. I had NO idea what was considered a 'good' prenatal multivitamin, and so picked something that was middle of the range in terms of price. After going to my Gynae for our first check up, she mentioned that most of them are much of a muchness, and so I finished all of the capsules I had before going on to a fancier brand.

Pregnavit M contains folic acid (but not as much as is recommended) so I took both this as well as a Folic Acid tablet once a day for the first 3 months.

I wasn't great about taking either of these vitamins  and as much as the internet and some mommies out there will frighten you into thinking, baby and I seem to be doing okay ;)

Bear in mind that no multivitamin can take the place of (or should ever take the place of) a good balanced diet.

I'm not talking about the occasional hot cross bun or packet of chips you may have guzzled in bed last night.

I'm referring to a diet that consists of mostly fruit and vegetables, low GI or complex carbs (for those of us not able to stick completely to the Banting/Low Carb High Fat eating plan) like rice cakes, oats and whole grains as well as a good amount of dairy. I have been a bit all over the place with my eating habits over the last 4 months of pregnancy, but I do make sure to eat clean/healthily about 75% of the time. I'm planning on doing a blog post on my pregnancy eating habits soon, so bear with me on that one!

Recommended Dosage: 1 capsule per day

Price: +-R70 for 30 capsules (1 months supply)

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Preg Omega Plus~ (BEFORE, DURING & AFTER pregnancy)

PregOmega Plus is seen as the Gucci of the prenatal vitamin world, and as such carries with it a hefty price tag (+-R250 per box). Luckily my sister-in-law gave me the heads up that you can often buy it on special at Clicks for about R190 - R220 and so I waited until I saw it was on special before stocking up. I've been taking it for the past 2 weeks.

It's more of a pain to take because each 1 month supply box comes with 3 separate tablets (30 vitamin and mineral tablets, 30 Omega-3 Fish Oil vegicaps and 30 Calcium, Vitamin D and Magnesium combination tablets). It also contains folic acid (a whole lot more than the recommended dosage) and extra calcium to promote good bone and teeth health. This means you don't need to take Folic Acid alongside this multi-vitamin so at least there's that.

**I was told by a friend that her Medical Aid covers one box of pre-natal vitamins a month, and she is able to claim back for the full cost of the Pregomega Plus. So make sure to read the fine print on your medical aid policy to check whether you can claim back for prenatal vitamins**

Recommended Dosage: 1 capsule from each foil pack per day (3 in total) after meals

Price: +-R250 for 90 capsules (1 months supply)

There is a Pregomega version (without the Plus) which is a bit cheaper than the Plus version, but it doesn't contain the calcuim, magnesium or Vitamin D tablets.

Are there any great prenatal vitamin brands that I'm missing in this post? I'd love to hear from you!

Please leave me a comment below letting me know what you took while pregnant, and if there's anything else that us mommy-to-be's need to know about prenatal vitamins!