Brunette woman in orange shirt holding bottle of vitamins in drugstore

Now that you’ve confirmed you’re pregnant with a home pregnancy test, you might be wondering what to do next. We asked an expert to help bring you the answers.

You may be asking yourself, I’m pregnant, now what? You may be feeling excited, scared, lost and unsure—all at the same time. That’s pretty much how I felt the first time I found out I was pregnant. There really is no preparation for this moment, even if you’ve been waiting for it for a long time. Luckily, we’ve got Dr. Dina Kulik to help answer some questions. From what to do when you find out you’re pregnant to what to look for in a prenatal supplement, Dr. Dina Kulik shares her expert advice.

Dr. Dina Kulik

She’s one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio and print media and via her blog, DrDina.ca. A mother of four boys and a pediatrician in Toronto, she is the founder and CEO of Kidcrew, a multidisciplinary clinic for kids health.

Dr.
Dina Kulik

She’s one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio and print media and via her blog, DrDina.ca. A mother of four boys and a pediatrician in Toronto, she is the founder and CEO of Kidcrew, a multidisciplinary clinic for kids health.

I’ve done the pregnancy test and found out I’m pregnant—now what?

The first thing you should do when you find out you’re pregnant is book an appointment with your doctor. “Sometimes we do confirmatory bloodwork testing versus just the urine testing [of a home pregnancy test],” says Dr. Kulik. “Your doctor will want to ensure you are in top health for your months ahead. Blood work will be done to check for signs of anemia and thyroid health.”

As soon as you know you’re pregnant, you should start taking a multivitamin that has folic acid in it. Folic acid is important because it can help prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida, Dr. Kulik explains. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, folic acid, or folate, is one of the B vitamins important for the healthy growth of your unborn baby.

Prenatal vitamins MATERNA Prenatal Multivitamin by Nestlé and Centrum’s Prenatal + DHA Complete Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement are both highly recommended by doctors. They both include more than the typical recommended amount of folic acid and iron than standard adult multivitamins.

Now that you know you are pregnant, it’s more important than ever to work on being in your best health for you and your baby. That includes eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods or activities that can put you or your baby at risk.

Woman eating salad with glass of orange juice and pile of fruit in front of her

“There are foods that we recommend pregnant women avoid, so it’s worthwhile looking at a list of those things,” informs Dr. Kulik. “For example, raw fish, such as that found in sushi, and certain cheeses can put you at higher risk of infection with a bacteria called Listeria.”

Visit Health Canada for a list of foods to avoid while pregnant, safer alternatives and tips on how to help avoid food poisoning.

What should I look for in a vitamin?

“If there’s no specific increased risk of spina bifida, a typical women’s multivitamin, or prenatal vitamin, has enough folic acid,” says Dr. Kulik. “If someone is at higher risk of spina bifida for their child, they should be taking more than the typical recommended amount of folic acid.”

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, women with certain medical conditions and on certain drugs, or those at higher risk due to family or personal history, may need a higher dose of folic acid. It’s not recommended to increase your dose of folic acid beyond 1 mg per day without a healthcare provider’s advice. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out the correct dosage for you.

Besides folic acid, Dr. Kulik recommends looking for other essential vitamins and nutrients in your prenatal vitamin. “Your multivitamin should have folic acid, calcium, vitamin D and iron. Anything else is just a bonus,” she says.

If vitamins tend to make you nauseated or you have trouble swallowing pills, know that there are options. “There are liquid versions of prenatal vitamins you can take, and there are also certain types where you can split the dosage up over 24 hours by taking one pill in the morning and another at night. There are chewable vitamins and gummies too; there are lots of options now,” informs Dr. Kulik.

Woman holding red gummy vitamin in one hand and glass of water in the other

Some expectant women prefer chewables over pills. If you are experiencing morning (or all-day) sickness, swallowing a prenatal vitamin might not go down easily. First Response’s Prenatal Multivitamin Gummies and Prenatal Chewable Multivitamin by Jamieson Laboratories are considered good alternatives for those unable to stomach prenatal vitamins in pill form.

When should I stop taking a prenatal vitamin?

“I recommend women continue taking multivitamins or prenatal vitamins after the baby is born for three reasons,” says Dr. Kulik. “One, for breastfeeding. Babies are taking calcium, iron and vitamin D from mom’s milk, so moms are at risk of becoming depleted. Also, blood loss in labour and after pregnancy might leave some moms anemic, and pregnancy itself can cause anemia. So, it’s good for moms to bring those levels back up, regardless of breastfeeding.”

Another reason to continue taking prenatal vitamins or multivitamins is that you may get pregnant again. “I tell women to continue taking vitamins for as long as they are of childbearing age,” informs Dr. Kulik. “Even if they are not planning a pregnancy, they are at risk of getting pregnant, and they’ll want to make sure their folic acid is as high as possible,” she continues. “Basically, if you are a woman of childbearing age, you should be taking a multivitamin with folic acid.”

Woman in pink shirt talking to doctor in office

One A Day Women Multivitamin Tablets by Bayer Healthcare Consumer Care and Equate’s Prenatal & Postpartum Multivitamin And Mineral Supplement are specially formulated for women because they include more calcium and vitamin D than regular multivitamins. They both also include the 400 mcg of folic acid that Health Canada recommends during pregnancy.

When it comes to using prenatal vitamins (before, during and after pregnancy), you’re not only helping take care of baby’s health, you’re also helping take care of your health. Getting your daily dose of essential vitamins and nutrients is a quick and simple way to help you be your best self for baby and you.

Visit BabyCenter for tips on what you should and shouldn’t eat to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. BabyCenter also has a pregnancy week-by-week guide so that you can follow along with your baby’s progress.

Congratulations!

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