Pregnancy

Do You Need a Vitamin For Each Pregnancy Stage?

Steph Greunke

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • How Needs Change During Pregnancy
  • What About Postpartum?
  • But Not All Needs Are the Same
  • You Need a Plan

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Intro

We built our prenatal from the ground up with a single goal - to create the most comprehensive perinatal vitamin for optimal perinatal health. That means throwing out a lot of common practices - like the fact that it had to fit into just 2 pills. We also considered the merits of trimester-specific vitamins - from a vitamin catered to preconception, a specific trimester, or to postpartum. Since we’ve gotten some questions about our decision not to go this route, we wanted to explain the rationale why.

How Needs Change During Pregnancy

Trimester specific vitamins are formulated based on the assumption that nutrition needs change throughout the various phases of pregnancy - from the Zero Trimester (preconception), through each trimester of pregnancy, and to the Fourth Trimester (postpartum). 

Some trimester specific vitamins will add additional nutrients and herbs in various trimesters to support needs of that trimester. For example, some add ginger and additional Folate in the First Trimester for nausea and neural tube development. Or additional Magnesium later in pregnancy for alleviating muscle tension and constipation. 

We explored this assumption ourselves when developing our own Prenatal Multi, as our ultimate goal was (and still is) to provide the most optimal support for all stages of motherhood. But the more we spoke with a number of women’s health practitioners and thoroughly reviewed research around nutrient needs in pregnancy with a team of perinatal health experts, the more our conclusion became apparent. 

While nutrition needs may vary throughout pregnancy, there is benefit to building up nutrient stores and addressing any deficiencies before or after periods of higher need. In addition, many variations in needs throughout pregnancy are individual and vary by person, based on factors like diet, lifestyle, prior pregnancy status, and existing deficiencies.

Finally, we observed that trimester-specific vitamins generally lower the amount of one nutrient in order to increase the amount of another nutrient. This can be problematic in its own way, creating potential gaps in nutrition by attempting to fill another need. 

Ultimately, our extensive research and discussions with a team of experienced women’s health practitioners who regularly test nutrient levels of women throughout pregnancy led us to our conclusion: One incredibly comprehensive and supportive Multi taken throughout pregnancy provides the best opportunity for optimal nutrition for an entire pregnancy. 

What About Postpartum?

Certain trimester specific vitamins, and other prenatal vitamin brands, offer a separate postnatal vitamin. If you’re wondering if you need to switch to a postnatal after birth? We address that in this blog post (in short, a comprehensive prenatal will help you meet your postpartum needs, oftentimes better than many vitamins marketed as a postnatal). And if you’re wondering if you need to continue a supplement after birth at all, we address that in this blog post (spoiler alert: yes!).

But Not All Needs Are the Same

As we mentioned, nutrient needs do vary, but these variations can typically be addressed through consistently supportive supplementation (through a comprehensive prenatal), as well as individualized supplementation (through additional supplementation of key nutrients to address deficiencies specific to a woman).

A woman’s needs vary depending on diet, lifestyle, and current levels of certain key nutrients. A number of nutrient needs may fluctuate from person to person, but two in particular are worth noting: 

  • Iron:

    Iron needs increase during pregnancy to support a dramatic increase in blood volume, as well as thyroid function and placenta development. Iron is also needed in postpartum to help rebuild blood after loss from delivery and lochia (the normal phase of bleeding that can last weeks after delivery). Some women have no trouble at all meeting these needs through food, while others need additional support through supplementation. Supplemental needs vary too - if a woman enters pregnancy deficient in Iron, she may need even more than the 27mg required for a period of time to get levels back into a normal range. Other women may be within a healthy range, but not eating many (or any) rich sources of Iron (e.g., red meat), especially in the First Trimester. For these women, a supplement of the full 27 mg of Iron required is needed. Still other women who eat some Iron-rich foods, or a woman who may be able to start eating some Iron later in pregnancy, once food aversions and nausea have passed, may only need to supplement with part of the 27 mg of Iron required. For these reasons, we developed an Iron supplement with 13.5 mg of Ferrous Bisglycinate per capsule. This is a gentle and well-absorbed form, and it conveniently supplies half of the amount of Iron needed during pregnancy, so you can tailor your dose to your own individual needs. 

You Need A Plan

Of course, there are also needs beyond vitamins and minerals, and that’s where our Plans come into play. 

Our Plans allow you to choose a bundle of products that meet your optimal “baseline” needs at every stage of motherhood, and then add on the additional support you may need from time to time. For example, most mamas benefit from our Complete Plan, which includes our Prenatal Multi, Omega-3, Collagen Protein, and Pre/Probiotic. All four of these products come together to support the increased needs of pregnancy - from vitamins and minerals to fatty acids and protein, plus support for optimal gut and vaginal health. For those who need it, it’s easy to add-on Iron or extra Vitamin D3/K2 at various stages of pregnancy or postpartum. 

Our plan approach also eliminates the need to plan or time the switching of your vitamin (after all, pregnancy is not always linear). You have one incredibly comprehensive plan that covers all of your needs through your entire perinatal journey, so that you can feel confident that your optimal needs are being met.

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Steph Greunke, MS, RD, CPT, PMH-C

Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian that specializes in prenatal/postnatal nutrition, behavioral psychology, and holds additional certifications in perinatal mental health and fitness. She's a key contributor and advisor to Needed as well as Needed’s Head of Practitioner Relationships. Steph is the owner of Postpartum Reset, an online postpartum nutrition course, and the co-host of "Doctor Mom" podcast.