PRENATALS – over the counter or prescription?

posted 2 years ago in TTC
Post # 2
2696 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I’m also in Canada, and have never heard of anyone being prescribed a prenatal. The over the counter ones have all you need in them… I would just try to find one with folate instead of folic acid, as the body absorbs it better.

As for morning sickenss, it’s really different for everyone. In my first pregnancy, I was nauseated and threw up a few times starting around week 6 and lasting around week 13.

This pregnancy, I have been sick (and still am at 19weeks) since I was 7 weeks.

Post # 4
378 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

The OTC and prescription ones are essentially the same. The thing my midwife said to look for is DHA. I ended up getting a prescription one because my insurance covers it 100%, but the ones you pick up off the shelf are just as good. My midwife also recommended a chewy one because they tend to be easier on your stomach (a lot of prenatals can cause constipation). GL in your journey!!

Post # 6
6969 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

The regular over the counter ones are fine. The chewy gummies usually don’t have iron in them though, so if you did get pregnant you might want to consider switching or adding an iron supplement.

I have prescription prenatals with a stool softener built in because the iron was so hard on my stomach. You could just take the prenatal and the stool softener separately, but it’s only $10/month for me so it’s cheaper and easier to take the prescription.

Post # 7
363 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

Agreed with PPs- otc prenatal are essentially the same as prescription ones. I’m not TTC, but my doctor advised me to take them because I am anaemic and the iron in prenatal is phosphorous-based and easier on my stomach than standard sulfate-based supplements where I’m so petite. Because the pills are available otc, my doctor didn’t prescribe them, because it’s not like my insurance will cover them anyways (Manulife won’t cover anything I could get otc)

Post # 8
954 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

shanbp:  My friend just had a baby lasy summer, and I also asked her all about Pre-natals lol She took an over the counter starting a few months before she conceived, and I think she may still have been taking it after her daughter was born.

I got an  all natural pre-natal at a health food store 🙂 


Also, in Canada too!

Post # 9
12884 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

OTC is fine, I think prescription just has a little more folic acid, 1000mg vs 800mg (or whatever the units are).  I get prescription pre natals cause they are actually cheaper than OTC.  My doc wrote me the prescription to check out the price and just go for whatever was cheaper.

Post # 10
810 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: Either Philadelphia City Hall or a small chapel.

I’ve taken OTC from Target since I’ve started TTC. It was like $4 for 90. I’ve never noticed any issues like even One-a-Day Women’s which made me nauseous on an empty stomach. 

Post # 11
2895 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

last year my doctor gave me a prescription for pre-natals- i wasn’t pregnant or trying to become pregnant, he just thought it was a good idea. i didn’t take them because i have a hard time with pills and those things were huge.

in march when i found out i was pregnant, i met with the nurse in my doctor’s office and he recommended the gummy pre-natals since a lot of women are like me and can’t do the giant pills. so yeah, that’s what i’ve been taking. unfortunately, my pregnancy ended in a miscarriage when i was just under 9 weeks, but i’m still taking the vitamins. hopefully, we’ll have another baby on the way soon.

Post # 12
610 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

urchin:  Actually, it’s the other way around 🙂  Folic Acid, the synthetic version of folate, is actually better absorbed. 

As far as the differences between prescription and over the counter formulations, anything containing more than 1000 mcg (1 mg) of folic acid requires a prescription in Canada.  The most common brand of prescription pre-natals are PregVit (1100 mcg or 1.1 mg of folic acid) and PregVit folic 5 (5 mg or 5000 mcg of folic acid)  Some drug plans may pay for PregVit (you can check by calling your drug plan and asking if DIN #02246067 is covered) if your doctor writes you a prescription.  PregVit folic 5 is only prescribed to women who have experienced neural tube defects in prior pregnancies, who have a family history of neural tube defects, women with certain medical conditions and those taking certain medications that interfere with folic acid absorption.  Unless your doctor has prescribed a prescription strength supplement or your drug plan will pay for it, you would be fine to stick with what’s available over the counter. 

Health Canada recommends 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily beginning 3 months before conception.  (Keep in mind that Canadian bread and cereal products are enriched with folic acid and will also contribute to your daily intake.)  They also recommend a daily iron supplement containing 16-20 mg.  Iron is best absorbed on an empty stomach but taking it with Vitamin C (like orange juice or vitamin c tablets) will enhance the absorption.  Iron absorption is inhibited when it is taken at the same time as eggs, coffee and tea, calcium (dairy products, Tums, calcium supplements) and soy. 

An over the counter product like Materna or the generic equivalent contains 1000 mcg (1 mg) of folic acid and 27 mg of iron and would cover all your bases.  <br /><br />I probably got a bit carried away but I’m a pharmacy technician and love to help people when I can.

Post # 13
1022 posts
Bumble bee

I took in my regular multi to my confirmation appointment, my doctor looked over the label and said they were fine I just needed to add iron. Unfortunately they ended up making me super nauseated so I switched to gummies. However, I have NEVER seen them anywhere OTC in Canada (I’ve checked Vancouver, Toronto and Winnipeg). Thankfully I know enough people who cross the boarder who were willing to bring them back. if you find them here please let me know!

if I had the choice I would choose prescription prenatals only because insurance would have paid for them. 

Post # 14
2696 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

ju5tdance:  AH! Thank you for correcting me.. I had my facts quite wrong on that one!

Post # 15
8818 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I’m in Canada and I had a prescription for prenatals.  I have issues with swallowing pills and the OTC ones are huge.  My doctor prescribed me ones that weren’t quite as big, they also had extra folic acid.

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