New mothers need nutrients to support healing and recovery. For those who breastfeed, their diet also impacts their baby’s health and development. In this article, we will discuss which nutrients are most critical for the new mom, and why, we’ll contrast prenatal and postnatal vitamins, and which is more appropriate for the new mother. We’ll cite the medical community and their position on postnatal vitamin supplementation and provide you with a comprehensive table of Recommended Daily Allowances for the new breastfeeding mother. Finally, we’ll tell you what to look for in a postnatal vitamin supplement and provide our selections for the best postnatal vitamins.
Postnatal Vitamins – What The Medical Community Is Saying
Although the Mayo Clinic strongly endorses prenatal vitamins, “All women who might become pregnant should take a daily vitamin supplement containing folic acid,” their position is less enthusiastic about postnatal supplementation. They acknowledge that for breastfeeding moms, the mother’s nutrient intake will promote the baby’s growth and health. And Mayo recommends you need about an additional 330 to 400 calories a day, to give you the energy and nutrition to produce milk.
As to supplementation, they suggest your healthcare provider ensure you are getting sufficient B12, omega-3s, and vitamin D in your diet. If you aren’t, they recommend a vitamin supplement but stop short of recommending a postnatal multivitamin.
When you conceive, one of the first things your doctor will do is prescribe a prenatal vitamin. A prenatal multivitamin helps ensure the healthy development of the baby and balanced nutrition throughout pregnancy for mom. Doctors are not as sure about the need for a postnatal multi, providing the new mother is getting all the nutrients required from her diet.
For those who opt not to breastfeed, the standard of care is to continue taking the prenatal originally prescribed. For moms who choose to breastfeed, a postnatal vitamin will supplement the nutrients the baby gets from breastmilk, particularly for those on restrictive diets, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet.
What Are Postnatal Vitamins – How Do They Differ From Prenatal Vitamins?
Like prenatal vitamins, most postnatal multis contain all the essential vitamins and minerals, focusing on B complexes and folic acid. Several of our “Best of” picks also incorporate another critical nutrient, omega-3 DHA. The primary difference between pre and post is that postnatal vitamins are geared more toward newborn development, and many have ingredients to promote breast milk production. Also, the dosage of these essential nutrients varies in a postnatal as the RDAs for a lactating mother are different.
Some postnatal vitamins are formulated with fenugreek and brewer’s yeast to help promote lactation and breast milk supply – while others contain herbs and nutrients to support immunity and energy for new moms.
How Long Should You Take Postnatal Vitamins
In our research, several doctors recommended taking a prenatal on an ongoing basis if you are planning to become pregnant again – due to the positive benefits it can have on the baby’s development during early pregnancy. As to the postnatal, it is recommended you continue using for the duration that you are breastfeeding.
Forms Of Postnatal Vitamins
The three most prevalent types of postnatal vitamins are multivitamins, breastfeeding formulas, and omega-3s DHA. Many manufacturers will include one, two, or all three of these components in their products. Most multis are delivered via capsule, gelcap, or tablet form. Gummies are a less common but tastier form of postnatal supplements.
Organic Versus Non-Organic
In all our “Best Of” articles, we search for certified organic ingredients whenever possible. We do so in postnatal vitamins as well, as the last things a mother wants going into her new baby’s body are unknown chemicals. We prefer all-natural, non-GMO, gluten-free, and no artificial colors, flavorings, or sweeteners in our postnatal products.
Postnatal Vitamins – Helping You & Your Child Get The Nutrients You Need
Multivitamins and multi-minerals are among the most frequently used dietary supplements in the natural products industry. Technically, a multivitamin is any supplement that contains more than one vitamin. In practice, most multivitamins contain a broad spectrum of vitamins and essential minerals.
A postnatal vitamin for nursing mothers should include, at a minimum, the RDA for B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and iodine. To support milk production, some postnatal multis contain botanicals like moringa and fenugreek.
Crucial Nutrients For Nursing Moms
New mothers have special needs to aid in recovery and healing, to boost the immune system, and to improve the health and development of their newborn. For mothers who have trouble with lactation, there are postnatal vitamins you can take to increase milk production. Two of the essential nutrients for this are brewer’s yeast and fenugreek.
- Fenugreek – an herbal compound thought to increase milk production.
- Brewer’s Yeast – contains B vitamins, chromium, iron, selenium, and probiotics and is also believed to increase milk supply.
Other Nutrients In Postnatal Vitamins And Their Functions:
- Vitamin C – Expedites healing and can help boost the immune system – essential for new moms who may be vulnerable to illness.
- Vitamin D – helps to develop strong bones and boosts the immunity of both mom and baby. May also reduce postpartum depression and anxiety.
- B Vitamins – a full spectrum of B vitamins can benefit moms and babies – increased energy for moms and improved sleep for newborns.
- B12 – in particular, is required for proper red blood cell development, energy production, and helping to form our DNA.
- Iron – for mom, it’s crucial to replenish iron lost during childbirth. Breastmilk supplies your baby with iron for their development and thyroid function.
- Calcium – moms and babies need calcium for healthy bones and teeth.
- Iodine – to support proper infant growth and neurological development.
- DHA – this omega-3 fatty acid can also help with your baby’s neurological development. May help moms with mood issues and postpartum depression.
- Choline – similar to folic acid and crucial for the baby’s brain development.
For a comprehensive list of vitamin and mineral RDAs for lactating mothers, please see the chart below as reprinted from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
RDAs differ very slightly in prenatal versus postnatal vitamins and minerals. If you are a new Mom and are taking a prenatal, you may want to carefully review this chart to determine where you may have deficiencies.
A few definitions may aid you in reviewing the above:
- Mcg = microgram, or one-millionth of a gram
- IU = an International Unit
The Benefits Of Postnatal Vitamins
Your nutritional needs after childbirth and while breastfeeding are increased significantly. The most important roles of a postnatal multivitamin are repair and recovery, energy, and ensuring you are receiving adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients. As previously mentioned, some formulations also aid in breastmilk production.
Are Postnatal Vitamins Safe?
First, for mothers who opt to continue using their prenatal vitamin after childbirth, there are several potential side effects due to their higher concentration of iron:
- Upset stomach
The potential side effects of postnatal vitamins are similar. In rare circumstances, a woman may have an allergic reaction to postnatal vitamins. Tell your doctor about any allergies before taking a postnatal multi. Any time you’re considering adding an herbal supplement during pregnancy, consult with your healthcare provider first.
Alternatives To Postnatal Vitamins
As expressed by the Mayo Clinic, it is possible to get all the nutrients a new mother needs through diet alone, providing you eat a balanced diet and are not vegan or vegetarian. However, many new moms have a difficult time eating properly with the demands of a newborn, and essential vitamins and minerals may be neglected. A postnatal is a relatively inexpensive insurance policy to ensure mothers and children are getting the proper nutrients they require.
There are also plant-based supplements that will help new moms physically and emotionally postpartum. We’ve previously mentioned Fenugreek, an herb similar to clover, moringa, and brewer’s yeast as nutrients to aid in breastmilk production.
Best Postnatal Vitamins
When researching the internet, it becomes obvious postnatal vitamins aren’t quite as prevalent as prenatal multis. For our selection of the best postnatal vitamin supplements, we scoured the market for brands that adhere to the following principles:
- Products that are manufactured in a certified cGMP facility (Good Manufacturing Practices).
- We looked for established companies and brands that have independent third-party testing and money-back guarantees.
- We placed a significant focus on the essential nutrients: B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, and omega-3 DHA.
- We included products that promote the mother’s breastmilk production.
- Several of our picks are Certified Organic and non-GMO. We also placed value on natural and sugar-free formulas, free of artificial dyes, flavors, or synthetic fillers.
We will apologize in advance if our Best Of picks in a postnatal vitamin bears a striking similarity to those chosen in the prenatal category. These are some of the most respected companies in the natural products industry – companies we respect and trust for newborn children.
Ritual Essential Postnatal
From the creators of Ritual Vitamins comes one of our very top picks for postnatal vitamins. Ritual Essential Postnatal is a postnatal vitamin formulated for the nutrient demands a new mother may face. This postnatal includes 15 ingredients and all ingredients are traceable, meaning there is a visible supply chain so you can know exactly what you’re putting in your body. Ritual Essential Postnatal supports normal immune function, fatty acid content for breast milk, brain health, and higher nutrient requirements for lactation.GET THE BEST PRICE ON RITUAL ESSENTIAL POSTNATAL
Postnatal Multivitamin for Breastfeeding Moms, from Naturelo
All Naturelo products are manufactured in the U.S. in a cGMP facility. Their Postnatal is a food-based formula with B-Complex vitamins cultured in probiotics – designed specifically for moms who are breastfeeding. The product is Non-GMO, soy and gluten-free, dairy and sugar-free, vegetarian, and vegan, with no animal by-products. No preservatives, coloring, or flavoring. The formula includes a blend of herbs which have been proven to increase milk supply.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NATURELO POSTNATAL VITAMIN
Perfect Postnatal Multivitamin, from New Chapter
New Chapter is owned by Procter & Gamble and is a company we trust with our newborn’s nutrition. Perfect Postnatal meets our standard for certified organic, Non-GMO project verified, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, and no synthetic fillers.
The product is scientifically formulated for new moms – postnatal vitamins and minerals to support lactation, energy, and mood, with beneficial probiotics.
We wish the product included DHA; however, for DHA while nursing, add New Chapter Wholemega for Moms Fish Oil for an additional $16.00 on the company website newchapter.com.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NEW CHAPTER PERFECT POSTNATAL MULTIVITAMIN
Postnatal Omega-3, from Nordic Naturals
Nordic Naturals is an industry leader when it comes to Omegas. Their award-winning Postnatal Omega-3 makes our list for women who want extra DHA support. Postnatal Omega-3 fulfills the recommended daily serving of omega-3 DHA for pregnant and lactating women and includes 1000 IU vitamin D3 for added immune support. This is not a complete postnatal multivitamin and might be stacked with another postnatal multi or with added herbs, such as fenugreek, for added milk production support.
Nordic Naturals has always been at the forefront of sustainable and ethical practices in the natural products industry.GET THE BEST PRICE ON NORDIC NATURALS POSTNATAL OMEGA-3
Postnatal Multivitamin, from Rainbow Light
The Rainbow Light Postnatal Multivitamins provide comprehensive nutritional support for breastfeeding moms and baby’s ongoing development. The product includes a Lactation Blend, organic fruits and vegetables, digestive enzymes, and Lutein for baby’s eyes and brain development. Vegetarian, gluten-free, Non-GMO project verified. Made with purity-tested ingredients and no artificial preservatives, colors, flavors and contains no gluten, wheat, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, fish or shellfishGET THE BEST PRICE ON RAINBOW LIGHT POSTNATAL MULTIVITAMIN
Stacking Other Supplements With Postnatal Vitamins
If your choice of postnatal doesn’t include DHA, stacking with DHA is our first option. Likewise, if you’re having difficulties with breastfeeding, we recommend stacking with fenugreek, maringa, and brewer’s yeast.
Depending on the new mother’s other goals, there are additional products available to her, such as protein, an important nutrient for repair and recovery, electrolytes, and BCAAs or whole spectrum amino acids. While breastfeeding, we suggest you avoid using stimulants, diet aids, or hormone support products.
To Summarize: Postnatal Vitamins For You And Your Baby
Although we always value the medical profession’s inputs, we think a postnatal should be recommended for all new moms who are breastfeeding. With the demands of a new baby, ensuring you consume all the essential nutrients, in the appropriate RDAs, can be challenging – a postnatal is the natural solution.