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Yes, prenatal vitamins can make you feel sick. Some pregnant women have trouble tolerating certain prenatal supplements, especially those with a lot of iron. If your prenatal vitamin won't stay down, you can take steps to make sure you're getting the important nutrients you need to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the National Institutes of Health recommend that all pregnant women get 27 milligrams (mg) of iron per day, and some prenatal vitamins contain more than that. Check the label: If your vitamin contains extra iron, switch to one with less (as long as you're not anemic). Ask your healthcare provider to recommend a vitamin with the right amount of iron for you.
To prevent feeling sick when you take your prenatal vitamin, try these suggestions:
- Take your prenatal vitamin with food. Taking any kind of vitamin or pill on an empty stomach can make you feel sick.
- Take your vitamin at a different time of day. If you usually take it in the morning, try taking it just before you go to bed.
- Break the tablet in half and take it in divided doses several hours apart.
- Try a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin B6. Research shows that vitamin B6 may relieve nausea during pregnancy for some women.
If these tips don't help, ask your provider whether you can switch to a prenatal vitamin without iron during your first trimester and get iron from food sources instead.
If you just can't stomach prenatal vitamins, at least make sure you get enough folic acid. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that taking folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) in the months before pregnancy and during the first trimester reduces the risk of neural tube defects, which are serious birth defects of the brain and spine.
Experts recommend that you take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily if you're trying to get pregnant and 600 mcg when you are pregnant, so a supplement should contain at least that much. And this is in addition to the folate you get from food, which your body doesn't absorb as well as the synthetic kind.