Early pregnancy folic acid advice

Understanding the importance of folic acid and when you should take it

Is it too late to take folic acid?

Whether you’re trying to conceive or think you may have already, it’s important to take folic acid

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It’s important to start looking after yourself and your baby from the offset and the two important vitamins you need to take in pregnancy are folic acid and Vitamin D. In fact, it is recommended to take folic acid 2 months prior to conception. If you have a BMI of 30 or above, you should ask your doctor for a prescription for a higher dose of folic acid.

1. Folic acid

Perhaps the most important supplement you can take early on is folic acid. Taken before the first 12 weeks of pregnancy it helps your baby’s neural tube to develop. This tube later turns into baby’s brain and spine. After 12 weeks folic acid isn’t harmful but your baby’s neural tube will have closed so it will not benefit from you taking it. 

It’s important for you too as a lack of folic acid can lead to fewer red blood cells and anaemia, so do make sure you take a daily supplement. It’s safe to take all the way through pregnancy and most pregnancy multivitamins will contain it. 

2. Vitamin D

Experts now recommend that everyone consider taking a Vitamin D supplement over winter as we get it from sunlight and most of us don’t get enough in the UK.
Throughout all of your pregnancy it is recommended that you take a 10 microgram supplement every day to help your baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system to develop.

A lack of Vitamin D causes bones to soften, which can cause a condition called rickets which is on the rise in the UK.

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3. Have I put my baby at risk because I’ve not taken folic acid?

Whilst it’s recommended that women who are trying for a baby take folic acid, the risk is very small and is unlikely to have affected your baby.  If you’re worried do talk to your midwife and start taking a supplement until the end of your first trimester (12 weeks).

4. Are there any vitamins I shouldn’t take?

Avoid any supplements that contain retinol (vitamin A) as large doses can be dangerous to your unborn baby.

Early pregnancy folic acid advice