Understanding supplements and the Healthy Start scheme
Find out if the Healthy Start scheme could help you get the vitamins you need during pregnancy
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is vital when you’re pregnant, helping to nourish your fast-growing baby. And you’ll also need to take daily supplements for two crucial nutrients - folic acid and vitamin D. The government is keen everyone has access to these, so you may get supplements free of charge.
Here’s a quick guide to what supplements you may need and what you need to know about the Healthy Start scheme.
What you need
When you’re pregnant, it’s important you get a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, vitamin D, iron and calcium. This is why so many mums-to-be take multivitamin supplements, formulated especially for pregnant women.
None of this comes cheap, but the good news is you may qualify for free supplements via the Healthy Start scheme, or even via a local NHS organisation.
The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers for pregnant women and families who qualify. You can use these to buy milk and plain fresh and frozen vegetables at local shops, and you also get coupons that can be exchanged for free vitamins. Just ask your midwife or health visitor where they are accepted in your area. You can also use the Healthy Start postcode search to find where you can use the vouchers.
Healthy Start is available to a range of people – for example if you’re on income support or claiming specific allowances. You can find out more on the NHS website.
If you're not on the Healthy Start scheme, some NHS organisations still offer the vitamins for free or sell them, so have a chat with your midwife about arrangements in your area.
You can start applying at the Healthy Start website, or call the Healthy Start helpline on 0845 607 6823.
Watch out for vitamin A
Make sure you avoid vitamin A supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol), as too much could harm your baby.