When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins? Consider the 3-Month Rule

3 min read

When should you start taking prenatal vitamins? We dig into the science—and yes, there's a rule of thumb to follow.
When should you start taking prenatal vitamins? We dig into the science—and yes, there's a rule of thumb to follow.

Essential Takeaways

  • In order to help provide support for both you and your baby throughout your pregnancy, we recommend taking a prenatal when you’re thinking, trying, or when it’s time.
  • A good rule of thumb to follow: Aim for 3 months before you’re planning to conceive.

We probably don’t need to remind you that your nutrient needs will change throughout your life—and that includes during pregnancy.

Prenatal vitamins are designed to help support women who are either pregnant or actively trying to get pregnant, by way of nutrients that can help support both the development of the baby and the health of mom throughout pregnancy.

For many pregnant women or women thinking about having a baby, the question isn’t whether to take prenatal vitamins—it’s when to start taking prenatal vitamins.

So when is the ideal time to introduce prenatal vitamins into your regimen? Our rule of thumb: You should consider taking prenatal vitamins when you're thinking, trying, and when it's time—or in general, aim for 3 months ahead of conception. But let's dive in a little deeper, shall we?

Understanding the nutritional needs of mother and baby

Women need a variety of nutrients in order to support pregnancy. And while it’s technically possible to fill those nutrient needs through a healthy diet, it can also be very difficult. Prenatal vitamins are designed to help fill in the nutritional gaps in a mother-to-be’s diet and to support the development of baby as well.

In order to determine when to start taking prenatal vitamins, it’s important to understand what some of those nutrients are and the role they play.

Essential Prenatal

Take the guesswork out of your prenatal multivitamin.

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Let’s talk about a few key examples:

Folate. Folate is a B Vitamin that helps support neural tube development during the early stages of pregnancy and is typically found in vegetables (like leafy greens), eggs, and legumes. Folate comes in various forms, including folic acid and MTHF.*

Iron. Iron needs increase during pregnancy—and women should aim to get enough iron during their pregnancy for both her and the developing baby (iron is thought to help support the baby’s growth and development [1]).*

Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids (including DHA) help support brain and vision health and are typically found in foods like salmon, tuna, and shellfish.*

Choline. Choline is an important nutrient during pregnancy as a large amount of choline is delivered to the baby through the placenta.*

When to start taking prenatal vitamins

Pregnancy can be hard to predict. It’s impossible to know whether it will take you a month or a year to get pregnant—and, often times, you may not know you’re actually pregnant until a few weeks after conception.

Because so much of a baby’s development happens during the early weeks of pregnancy, it’s important to start taking prenatal vitamins before you start trying to get pregnant (three months is a good rule of thumb). That way, you can ensure you’re giving your body (and your baby!) nutrients it needs from the moment you conceive.

Ritual’s Essential Prenatal

When you’re choosing a prenatal vitamin, you want to ensure it helps support nutrient needs for you throughout your pregnancy. Ritual’s Essential Prenatal was designed with 12 key nutrients (including folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, DHA, iron, and choline) to help support you and your baby both before and during your pregnancy.*


  1. Mayo Clinic. 2018, April 13. Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose.