What Happens If You Don’t Take Prenatals While Pregnant?

You have a baby on board. Of course, as usual you’ve been taking your prenantal vitamins. But recently for some reasons you skipped them. So your question holds, “what’s going to happen?”,

Are there any consequences, or is it all just a big fuss over nothing?  We’ll explore everything you need to know about this. Let’s start by describing what prenatals are, and their importances to your journey.

What are prenatal vitamins?

Prenatals or prenatal vitamins are special supplements that are usually recommended for women to take at the onset of conception, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

The nutrients in prenatals are designed to meet the needs of expectant mothers and growing babies and is basically different from regular multivitamins.

So if you’re thinking of replacing it with the regular ones, then you’re probably making a mistake. Let me take you through the key ingredients in prenatals;

  • Folic acid: Reduces risk of neural tube defects. Deficiency of folic acid in pregnancy can cause serious abnormalities in the baby’s brain or spine.
  • Iron: Your body needs extra irons during pregnancy to allow more blood supply your baby with oxygen.
  • Calcium: Very important for your baby’s bone development.
  • Iodine: Helps brain and nervous system development in your baby.
  • D Vitamin: While you need calcium in this journey, vitamin D fosters its quick absorption into your bloodstream to help your baby’s bones and gum cavity development.

Are prenatals actually necessary?

Yes, prenatals are very necessary for every pregnant woman. Mayo clinic in their article on prenatals for pregnancy stated that “it fills nutrient gaps in the mother’s diet”.

They are designed to offer all the necessary minerals and vitamins you need to support the growth of your baby.

Why do pregnant women need prenatals?

Prenatals are important for all pregnant women, and even postpartum. They provide the healthful boost to these nutrients your body requires during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Below are why you need them:

To prevent birth defects

When you take prenatals, they drastically reduce the risk of certain congenital disabilities, which are also the abnormalities that occur to babies sometimes.

The causes of this issue though vary for every woman and circumstances, prenatals vitamins act like a shield to prevent your baby from any potential risk of getting it.

Support fetal development

They contain essential nutrients that helps your baby’s growth and development. These nutrients include folic acid, irons, calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 DHA and all the 8 vitamins.

Lower risk of preterm labor and preterm birth

Preterm labor is when labor occurs very early than the expected time. The average length of pregnancy is between 40 and 41 weeks, thus when labor happens early, chances of pregnancy complications are usually high.

Regularly taking your prenatals should keep this in check.

Reduce the risk of preeclampsia

This is the medical term for high blood pressure during pregnancy. When you stick to your prenatals, you help your blood pressure levels stabilize. This prevents it from getting higher or extremely going down.

Restores healthy micronutrient levels

It also helps in restoring healthy micronutrients levels, which are important for overall wellness during pregnancy.

Reduces oxidative stress

You’re likely to get oxidative stress when there is insufficient antioxidants to get rid of the free radicals in your body. Prenatals gives you plenty antioxidants that reduces the risk of oxidative stress, promoting a better health.

What happens if pregnant women don’t take prenatals for the first trimester?

If you happen to skip your prenatals in the first trimester, then you may potentially face nutrient deficiencies that will affect both you and the baby.

Remember that you can’t get all the nutrients you need in the foods you take; that’s why prenatal vitamins are particularly made to fill in such nutrient gaps.

One most important nutrient you need during pregnancy is folic acid. This nutrient is needed especially during your first trimester, to develop your baby’s neural tube that forms his brain and spinal cord.

Despite its neccesity, you are likely to lack them in your diet, or have them in insufficient quantities. Thus, the need to resort to prenatals.

While your baby may not be severely affected, you put it at a higher risk of developing some diseases.

What happens when you skip prenatals?

If you miss a day or two on your prenatals, you won’t lack any vitamins severely, but it might go a long way to disrupt your habit of taking them regularly. When you eventually disrupt your habits of taking them, then you’re likely to skip more days.

That is where the problem sets in – You’re going to deprive your body of the needed vitamins and minerals.

If you continue to miss these vitamins, then it’ll potentially lead to nutritional gaps over time, which will heighten the risks for pregnancy complications.

What happens if pregnant women don’t take prenatals throughout the journey?

You may not be lucky enough. You can juggle some pregnancy complications throughout the journey. Below are some side effects you’re likely to face;

What are the side effects of not taking prenatals?

  • Neutral tube defects – Folic acid deficiency may result to this issue where your baby’s brain and spinal cord minimally develop.
  • Low birth weight – Iron deficiency may cause anaemia that’ll affect your baby’s weight after delivery.
  • Preterm birth – Iron deficiency increases chances of delivery before expected date.
  • Weak bones – Insufficient calcium and vitamin D can stunt bone growth in the baby and increase foetal risks of rickets(condition where bones are very weakened)
  • Maternal anaemia – Not taking prenatals can also lead to anaemia, which may cause dizziness, fatigue and shortness of breath.
  • Delivery complications – The risks of delivery complications may be sightly higher when you don’t take them at all. Not taking prenatals has been associated with postpartum haemorrhage, which in nine out of ten cases necessitates blood tranfussion.
  • Poor maternal recovery – May affect postpartum healing and even your ability to breastfeed.

Final words

Though every woman has unique pregnancy, it is always necessary to incorporate prenatal vitamins into your diet. It’s understandable that for some reasons you may skip them, but be sure not to skip for long.

If it happens that you skipped a day or two, then it’s fine; don’t skip prenatals for more than two weeks or a month while pregnant – it’s not the best thing to do.


Planned Parenthood (What are Prenatal Vitamins?), Mayo Clinic (Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose), & WebMd (Pregnancy and Prenatal Vitamins)

Georgina Austin

Georgina Austin

Georgina is a certified midwife, a seasoned writer and a mother of twins - Noel and Noelle. She brings to this blog eleven years of experience in maternity support, coupled with her personal motherhood adventures to give you factual information on women's health.

Aside writing on pregnancy and breastfeeding, she writes on sexual health concerns, birth control guides, egg donation, sibling dynamics, and balancing the demands of multiple children.