Vitamins and Minerals 5 MIN READ 30 VIEWS November 25, 2021

Postnatal Supplements: Why are They Crucial for the New Moms?

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Postnatal Vitamins
What are Postnatal Vitamins
Prenatal vs. Postnatal Vitamins
When to Start and Stop Taking Postnatal Vitamins
What Do Postnatal Supplements Contain
How to Select Your Vitamins for After Birth
Other factors that affect your choice of postnatal supplements
Conclusion

If you are a new mom, regaining body health to full strength must be one of your priorities, besides your little one of course. Did you know that just like you were advised to consume prenatal vitamins, you also need to have postnatal vitamins? These are supplements that help in faster recovery and aid in rebuilding your health back to normal. In this article, we will be discussing postnatal supplements, their importance, benefits, and how to choose yours for optimal results. 

What are Postnatal Vitamins?

Postnatal vitamins, as the name suggests, are nutritional supplements for new mothers. They are vitamins for after birth of the babies. By restoring the vital minerals and vitamins lost or depleted during pregnancy and childbirth, postnatal vitamins help women in healing and strengthening their bodies at a faster pace. Postnatal vitamins are needed to: 

  1. Make new mothers strong and healthy from the inside, both physically and mentally.
  2. Enable new mothers to take on the responsibility of the baby by aiding faster recovery.

Motherhood is a far more challenging phase in a woman’s life than pregnancy. A new mom needs to take care of not just herself but her infant too. So, her body’s requirements of various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, D, calcium, etc. are more than those during pregnancy. 

At this stage, she faces many problems. These include breastfeeding issues, disturbed sleep patterns, effects of hormonal changes – such as hair loss, weakness, emotional swings, etc. Under these circumstances, having a balanced diet that gives all the nourishment is difficult. Therefore, adding postnatal vitamins to the daily routine is quite important.

An unbalanced diet creates nutritional gaps which harm not just the woman’s health but the infant’s wellbeing too, especially during the lactation stage. If the baby does not get all the nutrients it needs for proper growth, there are bound to be frequent visits to the doctor. 

The baby’s body and the brain achieve maximum growth & development during infancy. During the first four months, babies get most of their nutrition from their mothers through breastfeeding. So, a new mother must augment her diet with postnatal supplements, especially postnatal vitamins to aid sufficient and nutritious breastfeeding.

Prenatal vs. Postnatal Vitamins

Most people have the following misconceptions about prenatal vitamins (vitamins that women take during pregnancy). 

Some new mothers may think, “why let the leftover prenatal supplements go to waste after delivering the baby?” They treat prenatal vitamins as postnatal vitamins, since the core ingredients in both of them are the same.

However, that is not entirely true or correct. Here is the necessary clarification:

  • Not letting the leftover vitamins go to waste is a good thing. But you must remember that the quantity and ratio of core ingredients in postnatal supplements is different (more) than in prenatal supplements. 
  • Postnatal vitamins are formulated by keeping with the new mom’s nutritional requirements, which are more than what they were during her pregnancy, especially when she is breastfeeding a fast-growing baby. 

So, it’s crucial that once the prenatal supplements are over, you must switch over to postnatal ones. 

When to Start and Stop Taking Postnatal Vitamins? 

You should start taking vitamins for after birth as soon as you deliver your baby. You should continue taking them for at least the first six months post delivery. Depending on how long you continue breastfeeding, you can keep taking them for a longer time. They will fulfil all your nutritional requirements at this crucial stage of your life. 

Once you stop breastfeeding, you can revert to regular multivitamins or stop the postnatal supplements altogether if your doctor advises so and your diet is nutritionally balanced and sufficient.

What Do Postnatal Supplements Contain?

A postnatal supplement will contain the following essential vitamins and minerals as per recommended levels:

1. Vitamin A: needed for the development of the baby’s immune system.

2. Vitamin B12: Insufficient consumption of this vitamin has a bad effect on the quality of breast milk and may affect your baby’s neurological development.

3. Vitamin C: aids to build immunity and disease resistance in both mother and baby.

4. Vitamin D3: it supports the immune system and enhances calcium absorption in the body for better bone strength. The deficiency of this vitamin may cause postnatal depression. 

5. Vitamin E: It is a potent antioxidant and is therefore vital for both the baby and the new mum. 

6. Vitamin K2: It helps in the formation of blood cells.

7. Folate: Low levels of folate during pregnancy may cause birth defects but overconsumption of folate may cause health issues. Hence, it must be taken in recommended quantities only.

8. Calcium: this is required for the maintenance of your bone health and the development of the baby’s bones and teeth.

9. Choline: it is similar to the B vitamins and helps in the development of the baby’s brain.

10. Iodine: it helps in the prevention of thyroid problems and proper development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.

11. Iron: If you were anaemic during your pregnancy, this mineral is all the more important after you deliver your baby. It helps in ensuring the proper brain development of the baby.

12. Magnesium: It promotes the production of healthy breast milk.

13. Omega-3 DHA: it plays an important role in the development of the baby’s eyes and brain.

14. Zinc: it promotes hair and nail growth in both mother and baby.

How to Select Your Vitamins for After Birth

Here are some factors which you must keep in mind while choosing your postnatal vitamins:

  1. They should be easily available and affordable. Needless to say, you should choose those postnatal supplements that you can afford and get easily from a store near your location.
  2. They should be free of substances that cause food allergies. If you are allergic to substances such as gluten, peanuts, etc., you should avoid buying those postnatal supplements that contain them. 
  3. They should be easy to digest and absorb. No point in taking postnatal vitamins that cause digestion problems. 
  4. Your postnatal vitamins must be free of preservatives and contaminants — preservatives, traditional fillers, etc. are chemicals that your body does not need. They may cross over to your baby’s body through breastfeeding and may cause harm. 

Other factors that affect your choice of postnatal supplements

We would like to emphasize here that there is no standard postnatal supplement that will work well for all new mothers. Before choosing the right postnatal vitamins for yourself, you should consult your gynecologist. He or she will take into account your specific requirements and various factors such as

  • Whether you are breastfeeding or not.
  • Whether you have a sensitive digestive system.
  • Whether you have any food allergies.
  • Whether you are facing any postpartum mental issues.
  • Whether you need psychiatric help.
  • Whether you are dealing with hormonal disturbances.
  • Whether you are facing problems such as sleep disorders, hair loss, increasing weight, decreasing weight, etc.

Conclusion

Post delivery and especially while breastfeeding, in particular, you need larger quantities of calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, D, choline, DHA (Docohexaenoic acid), iodine, etc. Postnatal vitamins have all these as per the required levels and you should take them. They are good for both you and the baby. We hope you found this article useful. Do share it with other parents and would-be parents to spread maximum awareness on postnatal supplements and how they help new mums to regain and maintain their overall health.

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