For Dusty Lockhart, prenatal vitamins can be a hard pill to swallow.

“They’re so nasty — chalky and metallic,” said Lockhart, 32, who is nine months pregnant with her fourth child. “If you’re already sick and queasy, which most people are, it just puts you over the edge.”

Four years ago, Lockhart started working on a solution: a candy-coated tablet that would mask underlying smells and tastes. The product, a pink pill called BabyMamma, hit the Web two weeks ago.

“Honestly, I can’t understand why people didn’t think of this before,” she said. “We’re not trying to take on Big Pharma. We’re just trying to provide another option.”

Lockhart, who lives in Loudoun County and is the founder of Three Lockharts PR, has invested $80,000 of her own money into the project.

BabyMamma pre-natal pills hit the Web two weeks ago. They were created by Dusty Lockhart, who lives in Loudon County. (Courtesy of Dusty Lockhart/VitaMamma)

The pill’s coating, which has a hint of sweetness, was developed by a chemist in New Jersey.

“It’s like taking an Advil,” Lockhart said, adding that it was important to her to find a universally appealing taste.

“You never know what’s going to make you feel sick [when you’re pregnant],” she said. “Sometimes I couldn’t stand the smell or taste of bacon, and other times it was corn. It’s so random that we wanted to make it neutral — no taste, no smell.”

Five thousand bottles of BabyMamma have been manufactured so far, and Lockhart said she plans to eventually distribute the product to stores.

“The hope is that the company grows organically in the direction that it wants to,” she said. “Instead of putting hundreds of thousands of dollars in distribution off the bat, we’re trying the start-up approach.”

Lockhart is currently working on expanding her VitaMamma line with a one-a-day pill for new mothers called PowerMamma.

Even so, she said she plans to stick to prenatal vitamins even after she’s given birth.

“I take them even when I’m not expecting,” she said. “They make my nails look awesome.”