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Prenatal vitamins: How to choose the right one?


Prenatal vitamins: How to choose the right one?

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there are some key vitamins and minerals you need to help support your health and your baby.
Ideally, you will get the nutrients you need through diet. It’s important to consume a balanced diet with a variety of unprocessed foods, including fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.
But diet alone may not be enough to get you everything you need, says Tidelands Health certified nurse midwife Deborah McKee.
“Many women aren’t able to meet their nutritional requirements throughout pregnancy through diet alone,” says McKee, who treats patients at the Georgetown and Holmestown Road locations of Tidelands Health OB/GYN.
That’s where prenatal vitamins come in.

What to look for

McKee doesn’t recommend a particular brand of prenatal vitamins to patients. Most prenatal multivitamins will have everything you need. Be sure to take supplements in consultation with your provider so you receive the right balance of vitamins and minerals.
“There is too much of a good thing,” McKee cautions. Vitamin A, for example, can cause birth defects in high doses.
Your provider may recommend a particular brand or tell you to take a supplement of a specific vitamin depending on your health and medical history.
At Tidelands Health, expectant mothers can benefit from a comprehensive range of prenatal care, as well as educational and outreach programs, including childbirth classes, a prenatal education series, a monthly breastfeeding support group, lactation education sessions and more.
In recognition of the high-quality childbirth program at Tidelands Health, Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital in 2023 became the first in South Carolina and second in the U.S. to earn advanced certification in perinatal care from The Joint Commission.
Tidelands Waccamaw was also the first hospital in the state to earn the prestigious Baby-Friendly designation recognizing hospitals and birthing centers that offer optimal care for mothers and their babies.
Here are the basic vitamins and minerals commonly included in prenatal vitamins:

Folic acid

Folic acid can help prevent serious abnormalities in the fetal brain and spinal cord. Folic acid is particularly important early on. Women who are trying to become pregnant should start taking it at least a month before they become pregnant, McKee says. That’s why she recommends that all women of child-bearing age take folic acid regularly — so they’re covered in the case of an unplanned pregnancy.


Iron is good for both the fetus and the mother. It helps the development of the fetus and the placenta and can help prevent anemia. Blood volume increases quite a bit with pregnancy, McKee says, and so does the risk of bleeding. Iron can help keep you healthy.

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An important thing to note as you’re choosing a prenatal vitamin is that many gummy supplements don’t contain iron. McKee often recommends gummies in the first trimester when many women may be dealing with nausea and iron isn’t as vital of a supplement. After that, she typically suggests considering a pill with iron.

Vitamin D and calcium

These vitamins are important for the development of your baby’s teeth and bones. If you’re lactose intolerant or otherwise don’t drink milk, these vitamins may already be lacking in your diet. A supplement is an easy way to get both.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help promote the development of your baby’s brain. It can be good to take a supplement during pregnancy that contains these, especially if you don’t have a diet that incorporates fish or other foods with sufficient Omega-3 content.

Tidelands Health certified nurse midwife Deborah McKee provides a broad range of care at the Georgetown and Holmestown Road locations of Tidelands Health Women’s Center. She is accepting new patients.

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