Amid sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts, doctors appointments, and feeding schedules, there's tons to remember during the postpartum period. So do we really still need a prenatal vitamin after having a baby?
By OBGYN and fertility expert Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Amid sleep deprivation, hormonal shifts, doctors appointments, and feeding schedules, there's tons to remember, and sadly to forget, during the postpartum period. For most of us, taking a prenatal vitamin is one of them. So do we really still need a prenatal vitamin after having a baby?
Can I take prenatal vitamins after giving birth, and if so, for how long?
While most of us consider prenatal vitamins (PNVs) non negotiable during pregnancy, there is significant evidence supporting the benefits of prenatal vitamins even after delivery. Most OBGYNs recommend taking a PNV as long as you are breastfeeding. If not breastfeeding, then the general recommendation is to continue taking them until at least six weeks postpartum.
What postnatal vitamins should I be taking after birth?
Many postnatal vitamins are available and may offer benefits including increased milk supply, enhanced energy, and better mood stabilization. Although most postnatal vitamins differ in their exact formulas, most will contain these beneficial ingredients:
- Omega DHA
- Helps with baby’s neurological development
- Improves mood and reduces postpartum depression
- B vitamins
- Improves energy for moms
- Improves sleep for babies
- Vitamin D
- Strong bones for mom and baby
- Immune system booster
- Reduces postpartum depression
- Vitamin C
- Immune system booster
Postnatal vitamins can improve nutritional status for all moms; however, the increased physical demands from breastfeeding make proper nutrition even more important. In addition to the vitamins listed above, breastfeeding moms should look for vitamins containing:
- Ensures adequate newborn thyroid levels
- Prevents impaired neurological development
- Improved cognition and greater memory in infants and children
Do prenatals help with lactation?
Although there’s no clear evidence that PNVs will increase milk supply, several studies suggest that the quality of breastmilk is enhanced with continued PNV use. Since many of the vitamins found in our prenatal can be traced into the bloodstream, it's a good idea to continue taking a high quality PNV such as Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets.
Do I need to take postnatal vitamins if I'm not breastfeeding?
Even moms who are not breastfeeding will likely benefit from taking prenatal or postnatal vitamins. Pregnancy can cause many nutritional deficiencies including anemia and calcium deficiencies. These can be improved and even corrected by committing to a prenatal vitamin regimen for at least six months after delivery.
What can I take or do for postpartum hair loss?
Hair loss, often seen in the first year following childbirth, can be attributed to stress, hormonal fluctuations, and nutritional deficiencies. Fortunately, postpartum hair loss is temporary and can be improved. Hair health —including hair thickness, color, and strength—is somewhat impacted by diet and nutrition overall. Micronutrients play an important, but not entirely clear, role in normal hair follicle development and immune cell function. Certain vitamins and minerals are beneficial for maintaining different properties in the body, including hair, skin and nails. Learn more about prenatal vitamins for hair growth and health here.
Can you take prenatal and postnatal vitamins together?
Prenatal vitamins and postnatal vitamins have similar consistencies, thus it is not recommended to take both. If you’re having particular trouble with breastmilk production, consider taking a postnatal supplement with fennel seeds and coriander.
Don’t throw out the bottle!
Taking a prenatal vitamin is one of the easiest ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy and infant. But after those goals are achieved, don't discard that bottle! Continuing a high quality prenatal vitamin or starting a postnatal vitamin can help reduce postpartum depression, boost the immune system, and correct nutritional deficiencies seen with improper or restrictive diets.