It’s recommended that you should take a daily supplement of folic acid when you’re pregnant, or there’s a chance you might get pregnant.
You should take a 400 microgram supplement of folic acid every day before you get pregnant, and every day afterwards, up until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby having a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.
A neural tube defect is when the foetus’s spinal cord (part of the body’s nervous system) does not form normally.
You may need to take a 5mg supplement of folic acid if:
- you or the baby’s other biological parent have a neural tube defect
- you previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
- you or the baby’s other biological parent have a family history of neural tube defects
- you have diabetes
- you take anti-epilepsy medicine
Talk to a GP if you think you need a 5mg dose of folic acid, as they can prescribe a higher dose.
You can get folic acid tablets at pharmacies, or talk to a GP about getting a prescription.
Do not worry if you get pregnant unexpectedly and were not taking a folic acid supplement at the time. Start taking them as soon as you find out, until you’re past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.