The next order of business was to procure prenatal vitamins. In the US, prenatal vitamins are basically normal multivitamins on steroids – “extra” on everything. I was taking some vitamins I had brought over, which actually would have been fine for prenatals…but I was running low. So, off to the pharmacy I went (after looking up how to say “prenatal” in French).

After a few attempts, I managed to convey to the pharmacist what I was looking for. She disappeared in to the back room and returned with a small box. I could tell by the name and the pregnancy-related-looking logo that we had indeed had a communication success. I was so excited that I didn’t check any of the information, just happily forked over the 11 euros and went on my way.

When I got home I examined the information label more closely. As stated previously, a prenatal in the US contains approximately 3000 vitamins & minerals in higher amounts than regular vitamins. The French variety had about 5, all in amounts the FDA would deem minimal. For example, the FDA recommends a minimum of 400 micrograms of folic acid for regular people and 600-800 for pregnant women; this little vitamin contained 400. While I am far from believing the FDA to be the source of all nutritional/medical knowledge or having my personal well-being as their main interest, I also believe that some of these recommendations are actually based on research and science and it may be a good idea to try to adhere to them. There was also something called “nicotinamide,” which inspired fear until a Google search revealed that it is, in fact, a form of niacin rather than an ingredient to help French moms stop smoking.

Obviously this would not do. I immediately got online and ordered some decent prenatal vitamins and was even happy to pay international shipping charges to ensure my poor little baby could avoid neural tube defects. And in the meantime, I took those French “prenatal vitamins” with A LOT of orange juice.

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