We hear from a lot of mamas who wonder whether they still really need to continue their prenatal supplement routine after giving birth. It makes sense to wonder if you really still need to keep up a prenatal plan when you aren’t even pregnant anymore. Especially when it’s called a prenatal vitamin.
But the term prenatal is a little bit of a misnomer when it comes to health in your childbearing years. Because it isn’t just the weeks you are pregnant that influence the health of you and your baby. The months leading up to conception and the months following delivery are crucial to maintaining and optimizing your own health as well as for establishing a healthy foundation for your little one for years to come.
So if you’re wondering whether you should still continue your prenatal supplement routine after pregnancy, our recommendation is a resounding, yes! Here’s why:
1. Your nutrient needs are still high
Pregnancy and postpartum are among the most nutritionally demanding phases of your life. Your body requires higher levels of nutrients in order to support the growth and development of another human life. The postpartum period involves healing and repairing from labor and delivery, regulating hormones, supporting normal postpartum blood loss (lochia), and providing nutrient-dense breast milk to your baby if you choose to breastfeed. Taking a comprehensive prenatal vitamin during this time can help support your recovery during this time.
It’s also worth noting that even if not required during pregnancy, you may need additional Iron following delivery as your body continues to bleed. Your provider will likely check levels at your 6 week postpartum visit, but this is too late for many mamas and the effects of Iron deficiency are felt far sooner. Keep an eye out for signs of deficiency, like extreme fatigue, weakness, pale skin, chest pain, fast heartbeat, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, inflammation or soreness of your tongue, brittle nails, and unusual cravings for non-food substances like ice or dirt. If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, don’t hesitate to request a test from your provider before the standard 6 week visit.
2. If breastfeeding, your baby is relying on the nutrients in your milk
If you do choose to breastfeed, it’s important to know that while breast milk is an amazing food for baby, it doesn’t necessarily contain all of the nutrients baby needs to thrive. Certain nutrients will only be present in your milk if you consume them through diet and supplementation. Some of the critical nutrients for baby’s brain development that depend on mama’s intake include Omega-3 fatty acids, Choline, Vitamins A, C, D, Iodine, and the B Vitamins. Insufficient levels of certain of these nutrients can have lasting effects on baby’s health, like Omega-3 DHA and Choline for brain development, Vitamin D for bone and tooth development and Vitamin A for vision and immune system development.
We also understand and respect that many women choose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. While there is unfortunately very little research around nutrient needs for postnatal women who are not breastfeeding, we can use the information we do have to conclude that continuing your prenatal vitamin throughout the Fourth Trimester and beyond will support your recovery even if not breastfeeding.
3. Your diet may have changed
Postpartum can be hard. While you’re adjusting to life with a newborn, your sleep is disturbed, your routine is off and for a brief time, cooking balanced meals may not be as high on your priorities as it was previously. This is where an optimal prenatal supplement routine can help.
A comprehensive Prenatal Multi and Omega-3 can help fill in nutrient needs that aren’t sufficiently met by food. In addition, our Collagen Protein can help you meet your protein needs and keep blood sugar balanced throughout the day by easily adding a scoop to your coffee, smoothie, water, or oatmeal.
4. You may have deficiencies to address
Depending on a number of factors, you may be deficient in certain nutrients and adopting or continuing a comprehensive prenatal supplement routine can help address deficiencies. Some factors that influence your risk of deficiency include:
- Your nutrient status going into pregnancy,
- Which prenatal vitamin you took during pregnancy (and how complete it is/was),
- How consistently you took your prenatal vitamin during pregnancy, and
- Your diet and lifestyle.
Nutrient deficiencies can contribute to or exacerbate existing imbalances in hormones and autoimmune conditions. Postpartum thyroiditis is one of the most common that can arise from nutrient deficiencies. They can also impact the health of subsequent pregnancies.
5. Regular multivitamins and most “postnatal vitamins” don’t cover all your needs.
You may also wonder if you should just switch back to a regular multivitamin or to a postnatal vitamin. But the reality is, these are often less than complete. We’ve discussed previously, postnatal vitamins tend to be a way to market to postpartum women, and not actually a substantially different product that uniquely caters to postpartum nutrient needs. The reality is, your needs during pregnancy and postpartum are far more alike than they are different, so choosing a comprehensive prenatal vitamin will help more optimally meet your needs for both phases.
In addition, a regular probiotic or simply consuming probiotic-rich foods might not be optimal during the postpartum phase. A probiotic designed specifically for perinatal health, like our Pre/Probiotic contains strains that support unique needs of mama and baby, like reducing the occurrence of allergies and eczema in infants. Continuing a Pre/Probiotic during postpartum can also support any gastrointestinal changes that many mamas experience as their organs shift back into pre-pregnancy positions.
What Our Experts Recommend
Our team of perinatal practitioners recommend continuing your prenatal supplement routine for at least 6 months, or two months after you wean, whichever is longer. If you are planning another pregnancy, we suggest you just keep taking your prenatal straight through to that pregnancy as it is never too soon to prepare your body to conceive!