Updated on March 26, 2021 by Lyric Fergusson
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was sitting on the examination table of my doctor’s office. He told me my pregnancy test came back positive. The first thing he said following my test result was, “We need to get you on a prenatal vitamin.” So my doctor wrote me a prescription for a prenatal vitamin and I was on my way.
Before I left, my doctor advised that any over-the-counter prenatal vitamin would suffice. I thought this would be a quick trip to the drugstore until I got to the aisle of prenatal vitamins. There was an entire row dedicated just to them. Should I buy gummy prenatal vitamins or capsules? Organic? How important is DHA? Some agency is setting standards for prenatal vitamins, right?
Picking a prenatal vitamin does not have to be an overwhelming experience. Here’s a breakdown of seven of the best prenatal vitamins to help you find the best one for your pregnancy.
Best Prenatal Gummies & Capsules
(Made by moms — $$)
Why it’s great: Pink Stork’s Total Prenatal Vitamins with DHA and Folic Acid is one of many items from a line of products made by women for women. This women-owned organization came up with this specific formula for your prenatal needs and put it into capsule form. It encompasses the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy, as well as giving you a moderate dose of iron. The makers of this vitamin made it with attention to detail (as moms tend to do), so each pill is scented to avoid a nauseating smell that morning sick moms will appreciate. Not only does this prenatal give you everything you’ll need during pregnancy, but it’s also vegetarian.
Keep in mind: Expecting moms should note, too much iron can be troublesome on your stomach, and in rare cases, very high doses are risky. Pink Stork kept their iron dosage at 100% of your daily need, no more or less, so you’re safe using this one.
Good for: Women that want a prenatal by women who understand their exact needs.
(Best basic formula – $)
Why it’s great: These prenatal gummies are very candy-like. They’re gummy, sweet, and have a sugary coating. Plus, you’ll get your average run of the mill prenatal vitamins that you need, but at a more affordable price as they are an Amazon brand. No fluffs, or specialty here, just a well balanced, prenatal multivitamin that tastes good. It covers all the bases of a prenatal multivitamin without adding thirty bucks to your next pharmacy bill.
Keep in mind: Like most gummy prenatal vitamins they do not have iron and are made from animal products, so I would not encourage this for vegetarians or women in need of iron.
Good for: Women of average health who do not need to spend extra money on a fancy prenatal vitamin.
(Best for morning sickness — $$)
Why it’s great: OLLY Prenatal Multivitamin gummies are your standard multivitamin, though they try to set themselves apart from the competition by indicating they include folic acid and DHA. However, most prenatal multivitamins contain these benefits, as it’s widely known to support brain development for your growing fetus. Coming in a variety of citrus flavors, these delightful gummies were popular among mom’s navigating hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as morning sickness, because they’re gentle on your tummy. Plus, just two gummies deliver the same nutrition as other prenatal multivitamins that necessitate a dosage of four gummies for maximum benefits.
Keep in mind: These also don’t contain iron, so you’ll need to take that separately.
Good for: Women that suffer from morning sickness and need a prenatal that’s easy on their sensitive tummy.
(Best for iron seeking moms — $$$)
Why it’s great: Actif Organic is one of the few prenatal vitamins that contains iron. Most multivitamins with iron are only available in pill form, so it’s rare to find them in the gummy variety. While this isn’t a gummy, it’s a softgel, making it a lot easier to swallow. It also has an advanced formula with all the nutrients you and your baby need. Each ingredient is 100% organic and this vitamin complex is allergen and gluten free. The best news is that you only need to take one a day!
Keep in mind: You should always talk to your doctor about whether you should be taking iron or not, but this brand uses plant-sourced iron, which is easier on your stomach and doesn’t cause constipation.
Good for: Women that are prone to anemia and need to be taking iron along with their prenatals.
(Best plant-based — $$)
Why it’s great: This organic prenatal multivitamin from Garden of Life is a good fit for moms with complex dietary needs. It has a comprehensive blend of vitamins and minerals to encourage a healthy pregnancy, without additives or animal products. It is free of all the typical things food-based supplements tend to have, such as gluten, and GMOs. It’s also vegan and kosher. They also taste amazing! With only five grams of sugar, four of which are natural sugar derived from fruit, this multivitamin is as close to nature as they come.
Keep in mind: These do have a strong flavor, so if you’re sensitive to that, these might not be the best. However, the flavor tastes great to most women.
Good for: Vegans or vegetarians, as these have all natural, plant-based ingredients.
(Best for natural moms — $$)
Why it’s great: This prenatal gummy vitamin has a fusion of all the necessary vitamins and minerals to support your body and your baby’s growth. Plus, it gets bonus points for being vegan AND organic for expecting moms with specific dietary needs. SmartyPants created this mint-flavored formula with morning sick moms in mind, as it is easy on the stomach. This is also one of the few prenatal vitamins made with probiotics. But, SmartyPants makes a similar multivitamin to support healthy pregnancies without probiotics too, as not all moms are looking for digestive/gut health help.
Keep in mind: Some moms have found the minty flavor too powerful for their taste but generally the flavor is well received.
Good for: Women that want a prenatal vitamin that also contains probiotics.
(Best allergy friendly — $$)
Why it’s great: SmartyPants created this prenatal multivitamin with moms working through food allergies in mind. These vitamins are free of gluten, nuts, milk, eggs, and more, so the company really did a great job of creating something that most women could take, no matter their allergies. These daily multivitamins contain the typical mix of nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy. Plus, they’re made from all-natural ingredients. They’re also available at a more affordable price than others that are also sensitive to women with allergies.
Keep in mind: These do contain a little more sugar than some, but it gives them a great taste and makes them easier to consume.
Good for: Women that have all different kinds of food allergies.
FAQs about Prenatal Gummies & Capsules
1. What is the difference between a multivitamin for women and a prenatal vitamin?
There is a long list of suggested vitamins and minerals necessary to support a healthy pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, look for calcium, iodine, folic acid or folate, and choline, among other vitamins, to support brain and organ development in your baby, as well as strength for the mom who is fostering a healthy place for all this growth.
The mixture of multivitamins needed to support fetal development are not necessarily in your average multivitamin, or even a multivitamin tailored for women.
Talk with your healthcare provider about what areas of your diet need more support than others and find the prenatal multivitamin that will fill the holes of your diet.
2. How do I know which multivitamin is right for me?
Prenatal multivitamins are not a one-size-fits-all. Consult with your doctor to discuss the results of your latest blood work, and family history, to identify areas of your diet that need to be supplemented or considered when choosing a prenatal vitamin.
Keep in mind, the operative word is “supplement.” Prenatal vitamins will help support an expecting mom’s growth, as well as the fetus thriving inside, but it won’t do all the work for you. It’s important to consume a diet with DHA, omega fats, and a range of vitamins and minerals to optimize a healthy pregnancy.
3. When should I start taking a prenatal vitamin?
Ideally, women should start taking prenatal vitamins three months before they become pregnant. If you are trying to conceive, start taking prenatal vitamins right away. The mix of vitamins and minerals will not only encourage a healthy pregnancy, but they will create a healthy environment for your growing baby, as well as support early brain development.
If you are not in the category of women who intentionally became pregnant, (like myself) do not stress. Better late than never. Eat a well-balanced diet and supplement with the prenatal vitamin that promotes your diet and lifestyle.
4. Are prenatal vitamins necessary?
Yes! There is no scenario where taking a prenatal multivitamin harms you. Some prenatal vitamins may upset your stomach, aggravate morning sickness, or contribute to other bothersome symptoms that are typical when pregnant.
If you find yourself in this boat, don’t ditch all prenatal vitamins. Keep looking until you find one that works for you. There are endless studies that prove some vitamins can prevent birth defects as well as other health challenges.
Additionally, while too much iron can have negative effects, the average woman does not absorb enough iron. That, combined with the early stages of pregnancy when a woman’s body creates extra blood for the placenta and fetus, it is highly likely that you will only benefit from a prenatal vitamin.
Do not let the staggering information get the best of you. This will only be the first of many instances in motherhood where information overload can cause anxiety. Let the facts and your knowledge of your body’s capabilities guide your decision-making.
The diversity in multivitamins exists to include every expecting mom, so they can foster a healthy, comfortable pregnancy. Talk with your doctor to find the supplement that will help you and your baby reach your full potential.