When Do You Really Need to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins? Answered

If you’re unsure when to start taking prenatal vitamins, whether you’re currently pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, the answer might surprise you.

How do you know when to start taking prenatal vitamins? Like, how soon is too soon? And what if you experienced an unplanned pregnancy (raises hand) and didn’t start taking one until a few weeks in? Is that okay, too?

Keep reading for all the answers to your prenatal questions, especially when it comes to the timing of starting and stopping your prenatal.

In this post I cover:

peaceful mom with hands on pregnant belly

This post is sponsored by Modern Fertility. All opinions found within are my own, and products are tested thoroughly by me. I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) should you choose to purchase through a link on this page.

What is Modern Fertility?

Modern Fertility is a women-focused healthcare company committed to making fertility information, education, and support tools accessible and affordable.

Their physician-reviewed at-home fertility hormone test (more on that here) has expanded into a line of prenatal multivitamins, ovulation test strips, pregnancy tests, and more making it easier to get fertility data into the hands of those who want it most. Shop now.

When do you need to start taking a prenatal vitamin?

Before my first pregnancy, my nurse-midwife suggested starting a prenatal after removing my IUD. We were at least six months to a year away from officially “starting” to try to conceive, and taking a prenatal supplement hadn’t crossed my mind.

I thought a prenatal vitamin was only for women who were pregnant, not someone like myself who, at the time, knew I wanted kids someday down the road. I was wrong.

Carley Schweet

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s ideal for any woman of reproductive age to take a prenatal vitamin regularly, but, if possible, at least a minimum of one month before conception.

If you found yourself unexpectedly pregnant and weren’t taking a prenatal – try not to freak out. Just start taking one as soon as possible to ensure that both you and your baby reap the benefits of the essential nutrients and vitamins.

When do you stop taking a prenatal?

Not only was when to start taking a prenatal a surprise to me, so was when to stop taking one. It’s suggested that new mothers continue to take their prenatal supplements at least four to six weeks after birth. Some experts even suggest continuing your prenatal vitamin up until six months after birth.

What if I’m breastfeeding?

For nursing mothers, it’s best to take your prenatal until your baby has fully weaned and you’ve finished pumping and/or breastfeeding, if longer than four to six weeks.

We know that breastfeeding is extremely demanding on the body. Regularly taking your prenatal vitamin can help ensure both you and your little one receive the essential nutrients needed in this delicate and transitional time.

woman looking at prenatal multivitamins in a blue jar

Do you really need a prenatal?

Some of you reading this might be wondering, “do I really need a prenatal? Like, is it actually worth it or necessary?”. While your care provider can best answer this question, know that a prenatal multivitamin contains critical nutrients essential for a healthy baby—more on those below.

Essentially, there’s no harm in taking a high-quality, well-researched prenatal vitamin (like the one from Modern Fertility), but there’s a lot of potential harm in not taking one.

The most important vitamins and nutrients for pregnancy

Taking a prenatal is not an excuse to not eat a well-rounded and varied diet, but the right supplement can help fill in the gaps in your daily intake of food. Here’s some information about the most important nutrients during pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Folic acid can help prevent fetal abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Iron helps make blood which supplies oxygen to your developing fetus and placenta.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D both help the development of a baby’s teeth and bones.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA help promote the healthy development of your baby’s brain.

An important note on DHA

While the American Pregnancy recommends those pregnant consume a minimum of 300 mg of DHA per day, it may be surprising to learn that not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure you’re either getting enough through your diet, taking a DHA supplement on top of your prenatal, taking a prenatal with adequate DHA, or a combination of all three.

If you’re looking for a supplement that contains DHA, the prenatal from Modern Fertility contains 100 mg of DHA, so you have a nice jumpstart on your goal of 300mg when paired with a well-rounded diet.

What happens if you don’t take a prenatal?

While different practitioners and organizations may have varied opinions on the importance of a prenatal, it’s generally agreed that women of reproductive age should take a prenatal.

Notice how that statement doesn’t say “only those pregnant should take a prenatal”? Me, too. Keep reading for more on when to start your prenatal below.

Without adequate vitamins and minerals consumed through your diet and supplementation, your baby can begin to take precious nutrients from you. For example, if there isn’t enough calcium in your diet, it’s thought that baby will receive this mineral by leeching it from your bones and teeth – yikes.

Also, as mentioned above, important vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and more are essential in your baby’s healthy development. If you’re not confident you’re receiving enough through your diet, supplementing with a high-quality prenatal can help.

Finding a prenatal you actually like

And, when you finally know when to start a prenatal, how do you actually find one that you like or can, at least, tolerate daily?

With my first pregnancy, I was generally happy with my prenatal. I even recommended it to some friends and the readers of my blog.

Unfortunately, with my second pregnancy, my body had different plans. I couldn’t keep my original prenatal down, and when I finally did, it caused me to have an upset stomach on top of my all-day morning sickness.

Thankfully, Modern Fertility recently launched their prenatal, and I decided to give it a try. After a month and a half of use with no issues, it has quickly replaced my old one.

Here’s why it’s my go-to prenatal of choice:

  • It contains minimal, high-quality ingredients
  • It has a slight citrus flavor (which seems to calm my nausea)
  • Features sustainable packaging
  • The easy and affordable subscription model

I believe these four key factors make the Modern Fertility prenatal enjoyable for me, so keep an eye out for important factors when looking for the right one for you and your lifestyle.

More on what makes the prenatal from Modern Fertility stand out from others on the market from below.

Introducing the Modern Fertility Prenatal

Modern Fertility – a pioneer in the women’s health space – introduced their new prenatal vitamin, formulated with 12 OB-GYN-backed nutrients based on the latest research on what women of reproductive age actually need.


closeup shot of Modern Fertility prenatal supplements

Why the prenatal from Modern Fertility is different

Aside from containing the top essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy, Modern Fertility is paving a new path for accessibility, sustainability, and beyond in the prenatal vitamin category.

It’s accessible

When it comes to accessibility, for only $30 a month, you can receive Modern Fertility’s high-quality prenatal vitamin, and you can save $5 on your first order here. Plus, their subscription program makes it easy for your prenatal to show up at your door, and you can easily cancel at any time should you need to.

You can rest assured that the Modern Fertility prenatal isn’t packed with filler ingredients or unnecessary nutrients – it’s simply what you need when you need it. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Pro tip: did you know that prenatal vitamins – unlike regular vitamins – are FSA/HSA eligible? So are pregnancy tests, fertility treatments, midwifery services, and breastfeeding classes.

It’s more sustainable

According to The Green Team, Americans throw away enough plastic bottles each year to circle the earth four times (!!!). I wonder how many of those empty plastic bottles used to contain prenatal vitamins?

Modern Fertility is committed to cutting plastic waste, and your first order of their prenatal includes a reusable, child-proof glass jar alongside a pouch of your actual supplements. In the following months after your initial delivery, you’ll receive your refill in only the pouch to reduce the amount of waste produced by excess packaging.

It’s easier on your stomach

Many women find prenatal supplements hard on their stomachs, which is why Modern Fertility picked the most digestible form of each nutrient to include in their prenatal.

On top of that, there’s an added hint of citrus to encourage a calmer, more balanced tummy. It’s thought that lemon and orange can help curb morning sickness and ease nausea, making it the ideal addition to your prenatal supplement.

Save $5 on your first order now.

modern fertility prenatal supplements with oranges and lemons in a bright kitchen

Final thoughts on starting your prenatal vitamin

If you’re dreaming of starting a family someday, know that it’s not too early to start thinking about a prenatal vitamin. It’s essential to find one that fits your lifestyle and budget and makes you feel good, so you can feel confident about taking it through all stages of pre-conception, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond.



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