Problems with Prenatal Vitamins

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Stomach pain from prenatal vitamins

June 2004

Has anyone else had horrible stomach problems with prenatal vitamins? I have tried 3 different kinds and I am having serious stomach pains (no, I'm not pregnant...just planning ahead!) I'm certain it is the vitamins because as soon as I stop taking them, the pain goes away. I would be interested to hear similar stories, and more importantly curious to know if you found any prenatal vitamins that don't make your stomach upset! Trying to get my Folic Acid!

I also got a bad reaction from the standard prenatal vitamins. You might want to try the ones made from 100% whole foods and not from synthetic sources. The Baby and Me brand worked really well for me, but not sure where you would find them up in No. Cal. (I got them in LA). Picky about vitamins
I could not take prenatal vitamins. I took 2 children's chewable vitamins instead. I think the Flinstones ones worked fine for my tummy.
try eating a little bread with it. Also, sounds nutty, but you could also try a little citrus juice, which helps absorb the iron. I used to get aches, but they eventually went away, or maybe I just stopped noticing. A friend of mine completely stopped taking the prenatal vitamins, because they made her ill.
I can't take vitamins, either, while pregnant or not. My stomach either hurts or gets queasy. While pregnant I just endeavored to eat a very balanced diet. Now that I'm not pregnant, I just recently discovered that I can stomach Luna bars quite well... maybe too well - they're delicious! They are fortified with all kinds of vitamins and while I don't have a wrapper here in front of me, I believe they give you 100% of your folic acid. The way I look at it, one Luna bar and a couple of glasses of milk, and I'm set. anon
As with any vitamins, you especially can't take prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach. Are you eating a meal first? IF that's not the case, then I can't think of any other reason for stomach pain. Been There
I'm so sorry to hear about the tummy problems. I used to get queasy taking prenatal vitamins myself until my OB said I didn't have to take them, advice I followed during both of my pregnancies. I was told by my doctor that if I ate healthy enough I really didn't need to take them. I believe that was some good piece of advice too, both of my kids were born really healthy and not underweight. They also didn't develop any problems later. I'm not a doctor I'm only telling you the advice I received from my own OB. As long as I ate well, I really shouldn't worry about taking pre-natal vitamins. :) Mariana
I'm not sure what kind of stomach pain you are experiencing, but I did get extreme nausea from taking pre-natal vitamins that I purchased on my own. When I finally saw my ob/gyn, she gave me some prescription ones that were lower in iron. Apparently it was too much iron that was upsetting my stomach. With the pills she gave me I only had to take one, once a day. It made a lot of difference. My advice is to ask your ob/gyn for a sample of some pills that his/her patients have had good experiences with. I'm sure the stomach upset is relatively common. Good luck with the pills and with your big plans! Karen
You may be reacting to the iron in pre-natal vitamins. Make sure you've eaten before you take it. Also, I found that the time of day makes a big difference for me (this was also true when I used to take birth control pills). If I take my vitamin in the middle of the day, such as after lunch, I often feel sick to my stomach, but if I take it at night after dinner, I feel fine. Good luck!! Beth
One of the most common irritants in the prenatal vitamin is the iron. Pre-pregnant, your iron needs are quite low, so you may not need that particular supplement. I took Centrum multivitamin during all of my pregnancy, and just added a separate iron supplement as I ended the first trimester. For the first trimester, you can compare the folate content of the prenatal with the centrum and buy a separate folate supplement if you need it. You may not need it as you may get the balance of the folate from a fortified breakfast cereal or a nutritional bar.
Prenatal vitamins made me vaguely and unpleasantly nauseaus (which may not be the same thing as your stomach pains) if I didn't eat some high-protein food with them. If you're not eating well just before you take the vitamin, you might try it. When I did eat well, they never bothered me. There are lots of good sources of nutritional folic acid. In addition to being easy on the stomach, these are more easily absorbed and used by your body. Have you considered going straight to the source? Beans, especially kidney beans, are a rich source. Check online for more foods high in folic acid if you're curious. Best of luck. DL
Two suggestions: 1) take the vitamins with a meal, not on an empty stomach; and/or 2) take them just before going to bed. My OB recommended taking them before bed time if they caused stomach pain. Good luck. Tracy
Get one without iron or just take folic acid alone. Many women are sick from the iron in prenatals. Good luck trying to conceive. Annie
The iron in prenatal vitamins can cause constipation and stomach pain. Some providers will recommend switching to regular vitamins plus some extra folic acid for the time being, provided you're not anemic. That way you get the vitamins your baby really needs without the pain. Ask your doctor. elise
I had the same problem, except I had stomach pain and threw up after taking the vitamins. Nothing worked, not different kinds of vitamins, not taking them with food, not different times of day or different foods. Once I even threw up while driving across the Bay Bridge to work (luckily the NY Times was in the car -- turns out it is a very absorbent paper). With my first kid I stressed about it and kept trying to take them. With my second I gave up very very early (around 6 weeks into the pregnancy), and concentrated on eating breakfast cereal with added folic acid (Total is one) every day and making sure I ate a lot of spinach, chard, broccoli, etc. You may want to keep trying to take them, but if you can't don't panic -- just focus on getting what you need elsewhere. There's enough to worry about in a pregnancy without adding stomach pain to it. Been there
I didn't see the original post, but I couldn't believe none of the replies mentioned Premesis vitamins. With my first 2 pregnancies I was SICK for the first couple months and couldn't keep down vitamins. With this one, my midwife gave me Premesis (a Rx prenatal vitamin containing folic acid, plus Vitamin B6, B12, and calcium; the latter 3 all help get rid of nausea.) He said to take it IN THE MORNING BEFORE I GET OUT OF BED, which I thought was crazy, but it works! My nausea is much less severe with this pregnancy, and I'm convinced it's because of the Premesis. Ask your health care provider about it! Heidi

Morning sickness worsened by vitamins

Jan 2004

I am 10 wks pregnant and I've had ''morning sickness'' 24/7. After much trial and error I discovered that the prenatal vitamins were really making things worse. I tried everything from skipping every other day to resorting to chewable children's vitamins. Nothing worked. Actually it's so bad that when I tried to eat a bowl of ''Total'' cereal I had the same extreme reaction. My OB/GYN said to stop taking them and to concentrate on eating but it still has me worried. This is my second pregancy. I was sick w/ the first but don't remember feeling quite so awful every single day. I feel as if my stomach is much more sensitive since I had my gallbladder removed a year ago. Just wondering how safe this really is, not that I feel like I have much choice. Any advice? Words of wisdom? Sick as a dog

I was extremely sick for several months of my pregnancy. From about six weeks on I couldn't take prenatal vitamins and shortly after could barely tolerate any food. It wasn't until I was about 14-15 weeks that my doctors became very concerned (and I eventually needed a feeding tube in my arm because I eventually stopped eating altogether due to severe nausea). Throughtout those weeks, I was really worried about providing adequate nourishment to the baby. I was repeatedly told that even though I was barely eating & taking no vitamins that the baby was fine in the first trimester as the baby was taking everything it needed from the mom. And, sure enough, I had a healthy baby several months later. So, I wouldn't worry about it too much and do the best you can. Later on when you can tolerate vitamins, start taking them again. Also, it really helps to take them with food as they can make you even more nausious on an empty tummy! Good luck! Jenn
I had horrible morning sickness with both pregnancies. I was sick 24/7 for the first 18 weeks, and continued to be sick every morning until delivery. There were weeks upon weeks of eating nothing but white bread and water. Suffice it to say, I couldn't take prenatal vitamins at all. And both of my daughters were perfectly healthy. After both pregnancies, I was healthy, too. So I don't think you should worry about it too much. If you can take them, great, otherwise, don't torture yourself. I remember my ob's (different for each pregnancy) telling me that the baby will take what s/he needs from your body--the harm (if any) will be to yourself (small comfort). Try to eat healthy foods when you can eat again, and don't! stress about the vitamins! Hope you feel better soon. former puker
You poor thing- this is a common reaction for mom's who take prenatal vitamins... I would listen to your doc about being careful with your diet and making sure your eating right, but that may be hard as a lot of things probably make you sick. I would say, if you CAN take the vitamins, DO, but if you can't stomach it, then don't and watch your diet as much as you can. Mostly you want to make sur eyour getting folic acid which is very important for your newly growing fetus. If you can't take the whole vitamin, try taking separate folic acid and maybe some vitamin C too which is really good for preg. mommies. If you would like more tips or have other questions, email me off list... I'm a doula so I'd like to point you in the right direction if you want.... Shaana
I completely understand...I am pregnant with #3, and this one included 4 months of morning sickness, non stop. I took my vitamins right before going to bed, and this seemed to help. I still take them at this time now. I found all the medication to help with the morning sickness, only made me feel yucky in other ways, not worth it. Good luck - focus on that little miracle that will soon be with you. That's the only thing that has gotten me through! Melissa
Some prenatal vitamins made me sick too. I finally got the Whole Foods brand and they worked for me. Not sure why, but you could try a different brand and see if that helps, or maybe just taking 1/2. sick of vitamins too
I feel for you (had 3 pregnancies with nausea/vomitting 24/7 for many months). My OBGYN suggested keeping up just a folic acid supplement, so you should check about this with your doctor (it's difficult to get enough folic acid through diet only during pregnancy, esp. w/the vomitting). Best of luck to you. anon.
Ask your doctor about special prenatal vitamins to aid with ''morning sickness''. I too had constant nausea (throughout my pregnancy) and could not take the regular prenatal vit. I think the iron in particular worsens nausea. My dr. game me a milder pill that had a lot of B vitamins, which are supposed to reduce nausea. For me, this type was better, but it was still very hard to swallow the huge pill. The midwife in the practice advised me to try to take the pill after eating whatever I could so that I'd be taking it on as full of a stomach as possible. Though I couldn't eat much I could manage to eat potato chips, which settled my stomach (potatoes also have B vitamins). I still couldn't get the vitamin down every day during the 1st trimester. Good luck. It's not fun feeling this way - believe me, I know! anon.