preconception the science of nutrition

Why You Should Start Your Prenatal Vitamin Sooner Than You Think

Paula James-Martinez

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • Building Nutrient Reserves: The Advantage of Preconception Supplementation
  • Optimizing Egg and Sperm Health: Prenatal Vitamins for Both Partners
  • If You Suspect Pregnancy: Start Prenatals ASAP
  • The Bottom Line

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Navigating the path to motherhood often feels like a series of "expect the unexpected" moments, sprinkled with a dash of "wait, when do I start doing what now?" We get it.

One of the questions that comes up often, is 'when to start taking a prenatal?' Which if you are pregnant might seem obvious, but if you are not currently pregnant the notion of incorporating prenatal vitamins might seem like a distant checkpoint. However the reality is, the earlier you prioritize your nutrition, including potentially taking prenatal supplements, the better.

The first 1,000 days, spanning from conception to your child's second birthday, are nothing short of game-changers. What you consume during this critical window can shape your child's lifelong health.

Knowing this, and the fact the timing of pregnancy can be an unexpected journey. Practitioners recommend that women planning for children start a prenatal supplement at least three months before. 

Building Nutrient Reserves: The Advantage of Preconception Supplementation

Imagine prenatal vitamins as your body's way of squirreling away essential nutrients, much like preparing for winter.

Starting them before conception allows you to build up these nutrient reserves, particularly during the preconception phase, a time when you often have the most control over your nutrient intake without the added stresses of pregnancy or a toddler who hates broccoli.

Folate is particularly important. With the CDC stating it recommends all women of reproductive age to take supplement it, in addition to consuming food with folate from a varied diet, to help prevent some major birth defects.

Optimizing Egg and Sperm Health: Prenatal Vitamins for Both Partners

In the realm of conception, it's a team effort. Both egg and sperm need to be in top-notch shape for their roles in creating a human. So, let's make prenatal vitamins a collective endeavor—for everyone considering the incredible journey of parenthood and ask your partner to start up-leveling his preconception nutrient game too.

If You Suspect Pregnancy: Start Prenatals ASAP

It's common for us to prioritize our health when trying to conceive (TTC). And paying attention to your basic nutritional needs, irrespective of fertility or family planning, is always beneficial.

But if the early prenatal vitamin ship has sailed, and you have just discovered you a pregnant don't panic. Life is full of surprises. If you suspect you might be pregnant, consider that your cue to start taking prenatal vitamins asap.

The Bottom Line

Preconception care isn't just for meticulous planners—it's an invitation for every woman and her partner to prepare for the extraordinary journey of parenthood.

Commencing prenatal vitamins can mark the beginning of this journey, but consistently tending to your nutritional needs should be a lifelong commitment.


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Paula James-Martinez, Filmmaker and Editorial Director

Paula James Martinez is a creative producer, filmmaker, and former fashion editor. She is the director and producer of film company Semi-Retired Productions, and in 2018, started working on her directorial debut on the documentary Born Free, which investigates the truth about birth and maternity in America. She has since founded a non-profit organization The Mother Lovers to raise awareness of the US maternal health crisis.