If you’re considering becoming pregnant, you may be wondering what you should do to prepare your body.

If you’re on birth control, you’ll have to stop taking it at some point so that you can get pregnant. You should also begin taking prenatal vitamins, which are recommended before, during, and after pregnancy.

It’s important to note that you can take prenatal vitamins when you aren’t preparing for pregnancy, but they aren’t recommended for long-term use.

So, taking birth control and prenatal vitamins at the same time isn’t harmful, but it isn’t something you should do for a long period, either.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits these vitamins offer, what to do about your birth control, and alternatives to consider.

You can choose from among a variety of birth control options if you’re looking to prevent pregnancy. These include:

  • barrier methods, such as condoms and diaphragms
  • implantable rods
  • intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • hormonal birth control
  • permanent sterilization

These birth control methods vary in their effectiveness and in the ways they prevent pregnancy.

Hormonal birth control is one form of contraceptive that may be used to prevent pregnancy in people with ovaries and a uterus. Many types of hormonal birth control are available, including:

  • pills
  • injections
  • patches
  • vaginal rings

These options prevent ovulation, fertilization, the implantation of a fertilized egg, or some combination of these.

An injection of hormonal birth control like Depo-Provera has a use failure rate of 4 percent. Pills, patches, and vaginal rings containing hormonal birth control have a use failure rate of 7 percent. These are some of the most effective forms of birth control available.

If you stop using contraception, you may get pregnant — though the time it takes to get pregnant will be different for everyone. For example, some people may be able to conceive immediately after they stop taking the pill while for others conception may take longer.

If you’re trying to become pregnant, consider waiting until have you’ve had one natural period once you’re off the pill.

If you were taking a pill that prevented menstruation, your first period after you stop taking it is considered to be a withdrawal bleed. The following month’s period is considered your first natural period.

If you had a monthly period while you were on the pill, your first period after the pill is considered a natural period.

If you’re planning to become pregnant, a healthcare professional will recommend that you begin taking a prenatal vitamin. You should start taking one with folic acid 3 months before trying to conceive.

Prenatal vitamins contain extra amounts of folic acid, iron, and calcium needed during pregnancy. These are important during pregnancy for several reasons:

  • Folic acid prevents neural tube defects.
  • Iron helps a baby’s growth and development.
  • Calcium and vitamin D contribute to healthy bone growth, especially during the third trimester.

Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter and can contain other supplements.

This includes omega-3 fatty acids, which are a component of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA supports brain development and neurological function. It’s recommended that people who are pregnant or nursing take at least 200 milligrams of DHA per day, according to 2008 research.

A healthcare professional may also recommend a specific vitamin for your health needs.

Prenatal vitamins may cause some people to feel queasy or constipated. You can do the following to avoid these symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat extra fiber.
  • Exercise daily if your healthcare provider approves of it.
  • Use a stool softener if your doctor recommends it.

Talk with a healthcare professional if you’re unable to take a recommended prenatal vitamin for any reason. They may be able to suggest another option.

If you’re planning to become pregnant, there may be a time when taking birth control and prenatal vitamins overlap.

This is reasonable, depending on where you are in planning your pregnancy. You can conceive any time after stopping birth control and may begin taking prenatal vitamins up to 3 months in advance of trying to conceive.

You shouldn’t take prenatal vitamins indefinitely, though. If you’re taking prenatal vitamins because you’re thinking about conceiving but are still on birth control, you should ask a healthcare professional about other vitamin options.

Prenatal vitamins aren’t recommended for long-term use for the following reasons:

  • Too much folic acid can mask the symptoms of a B12 vitamin deficiency. This can delay diagnosis and treatment.
  • Too much iron can build up in your body, leading to constipation, nausea, and diarrhea. In rare cases, more serious buildups can lead to death.
  • Too little calcium can put you at risk of osteoporosis and other health issues. Prenatal vitamins are only intended to supplement typical calcium intake. You may need additional calcium if you’ve been relying on vitamins to meet your daily calcium requirement.

If pregnancy isn’t something that’s in your future, talk with a healthcare professional about what vitamins may be best for you. In many cases, taking a multivitamin isn’t necessary if you eat a nutritious, balanced diet.

Both birth control and prenatal vitamins are important for different reasons. If you’re planning to become pregnant, you should stop birth control and begin taking a prenatal vitamin. But speak with your healthcare provider about what the best options are for you.

If you’re looking for a long-term vitamin while you’re on birth control, speak with a healthcare professional about the best options for you.