I started taking Pregnacare in the first trimester around weeks 6-7 and pretty much straight away they gave me side effects. Now, this isn’t a full on moan – well, it is slightly – but more of a question: if Pregnacare is making so many women feel sick and nauseous, why can’t they change the ingredients?

Don’t just take my word for it, you only have to do a quick Google search to see what I’m talking about – there’s endless forum posts of pregnant women discussing this. I did suffer with hyperemesis so I can’t blame the pregnancy vitamins for my sickness but it definitely contributed to making me feel way more nauseous than I was in the early weeks, and to a lesser extent, later on. I’d take the vitamins (which taste horrendous) and within an hour or two, feel waves of nausea come on. Other women reported side effects of fatigue, bouts of sickness, constipation, abdominal cramps etc.

If you don’t know, Pregnacare is the UK’s most popular prenatal supplement brand and the vitamins contain all the nutrients we need for a balanced, healthy pregnancy. According to their marketing material, products have been “carefully developed by experts so that all ingredient levels are within safe levels for pregnancy and are moderate rather than excessive.”

They also say that Pregnacare is:

  • Suitable for vegetarians
  • Free from artificial colours
  • No lactose
  • No salt, yeast or gelatin
  • Gluten free
  • Pregnacare is not tested on animals

So with all that, you can see why it’s essentially the prenatal supplement to take. 

I started with the tablets but found they were too big for my pea head and so moved to the liquid but the smell with both isn’t nice to say the least. I can’t even explain it but if you’ve taken Pregnacare, you’ll know. It’s the after taste too that lingers and makes it worst. I’ll be honest, I didn’t take them religiously due to hyperemesis and actually still don’t, I’d say it’s more like every other day now but better than nothing, right? If I find a suitable replacement that doesn’t make me feel crap, I’ll become more diligent about it but for now I figured I’ll do as best as I can. I took my folic acid everyday up to 3 months – along with a few other tablets from IVF – but I need a prenatal supplement to be taken throughout pregnancy. They are important after all.

After a good few attempts at making Pregnacare work for me, this is now how I take mine to minimise the side effects:

  • Never on an empty stomach and always after a small meal or snack 
  • The liquid version mixed in a glass of mango juice (it helps to take away the smell)
  • At night so that the side effects are ‘not as bad’ by morning.

Let’s break down the ingredients as this could give a few answers:

Purified Water, Raw Cane Sugar, Sweetener: Maltitol Syrup, Magnesium Gluconate, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Glycerin, Ferrous Sulphate, Betacarotene (Vegetable Glycerin, Polysorbate 80, Vegetable Oil, Rosemary Extract, Antioxidants: Mixed Tocopherols), Zinc Gluconate, Acidity Regulator: Citric Acid, Stabiliser: Xanthan Gum, Niacin (as Nicotinamide), Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCl), Flavouring: Orange Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate, Pantothenic Acid (D-Panthenol), Vitamin E (DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Thiamin (Vitamin B1 as Hydrochloride), Copper Sulphate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid (as Pteroylmonoglutamic Acid), Potassium Iodide, D-Biotin, Vitamin K, Sodium Selenate, Antioxidant: Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin).

And for the nutritional information, the liquid version contains: Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Biotin, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Iodine and Betacarotene (Natural Source).

Blimey, that’s a lot. I’ve read that zinc could be the culprit but also that, depending on individual diets, some of us just may not need all of those nutrients and it could be too much for our bodies. 

I’m moaning… because I can’t find an alternative and as a mama-to-be, I know I should be taking some kind of pregnancy vitamins. I asked my GP, midwife and gynaecologist on three separate occasions what I can replace them with but they all gave the same answer: there isn’t anything, Pregnacare is what they recommend, and I should continue. I get this, cos take Vitamin A for example, it builds eye and brain development and helps with respiratory development, while iron helps the blood carry oxygen and Vitamin K supports healthy bone formation, blood clotting and healing. Pregnacare does contain a good amount of nutrients for a mama-to-be and her baby. 

However, I read a blog the other day where a lady mentioned she swapped Pregnacare for Seven Sisters. I had a quick look online and couldn’t find an alternative but I’ll check with the pharmacist next time I’m in the chemist. There’s also the idea of taking vitamins individually and focusing on what you actually need – I may try this as believe it or not, I’m Vitamin D deficient despite living in Dubai, and calcium deficient (no surprises there, I don’t consume much dairy). 

And let’s not forget the power of good, healthy food. With hyperemesis I haven’t been able to eat a balanced diet and had to just take in what I can but as of week 18, I’ve started eating again! We’re hopefully moving into a new house in August and I’ll get back to my veggie juices, salads and all that health stuff, so I think I can get a lot more of those necessary nutrients from diet. 

Anyway, there must be a suitable replacement, surely? I’ll keep searching. 

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