Is long-term use of prenatal vitamins recommended?

All Woman

Dear Dr Mitchell,

I want to continue taking prenatal vitamins even though my baby is now weaned. The vitamins — specifically Natelle — help me feel less tired, and have other benefits like keeping my hair from shedding. Whenever I stop for a week or so I'm extremely exhausted and generally unable to function. Are prenatal vitamins something I can take for the long term?

The practice of taking vitamin supplements is a very good one. Prenatal vitamins have a good balance of multivitamins and iron that are suitable for pregnant women. They also give the mother the extra supplements that are required during breastfeeding.

During pregnancy, the improved nutrition and vitamin supplementation helps your hair to grow. With delivery and the change in the hormone levels, it is not unusual to have some extra shedding of the hair.

It is totally safe to continue the prenatal vitamins, especially if you have some left over after breastfeeding is discontinued. However, any multivitamin preparation will work in this regard and might be more cost effective than taking prenatal vitamins.

The fact that you suffer from such extreme exhaustion is significant and should be investigated. You should get a blood count done to see if your haemoglobin is low. This would suggest that you suffer from anaemia and would need extra iron supplementation. It is extremely important that you pay attention to your diet and consume a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables along with your proteins and carbohydrates. A regular exercise routine will also help in this regard.

Caring for a baby and assuming all your other responsibilities can be demanding and may result in exhaustion. It is, however, important to get a complete physical examination, including your blood pressure, blood sugar and thyroid function test done.

Mobilising some extra help at home will help you to get some relief and allow you to spend more valuable time with your baby without being exhausted.

Consult your doctor who will advise you further.

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 876-968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.

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