Jun 22, 2022Postpartum

Prenatal: Benefits Beyond Birth

by Lisa Dreher
Prenatal: Benefits Beyond Birth

I often get the question “should I stop my prenatal after I give birth?” This is a great question because the word “prenatal” technically means before birth. Based on the name, it makes sense to assume that once your baby is in your arms, you can stop taking the supplement. However, there is strong evidence that continuing a prenatal supplement after giving birth is beneficial.

Think about it like this- would you stop drinking electrolyte-filled water just because you crossed the finish line of a marathon? Of course not, you would keep drinking because your body needs to replace lost fluids and nutrients for a while after the race is finished. Similarly, your body continues to have high nutritional demands that need to be met and potentially repleted after birth. And this is even more significant if you breastfeed your baby because the requirements for many nutrients like choline, vitamins C, D, and iodine increase beyond what was needed during pregnancy! Staying on a comprehensive prenatal throughout lactation is critical for both you and the optimal development of your baby’s brain (think choline), immune system (think vitamin C and D), and more. 

 

While most health experts agree that breastfeeding is the optimal choice for feeding your baby, we recognize that for a variety of reasons, many women are not able to do so. We respect every woman’s unique experience and aim to support all women regardless of whether they breastfeed or not. If you do not breastfeed, there are still many reasons to continue a prenatal for at least 6 months after your beautiful baby arrives:

  1. 1. Prevent nutrient deficiencies. Not only has your body experienced increased nutrient demand over the past 9 months, but certain nutrients can also be lost during the birthing process itself, especially iron. Continuing a high quality prenatal with iron can help prevent deficiencies from developing such as anemia while helping to build up healthy nutrient stores. 

 

 

  1. 2. Wound healing. Your body will be in a state of repair for some time postpartum whether you have a natural delivery or cesarian section. This repair requires higher amounts of vitamins A, C, D, iron, zinc, and copper which are needed to support a healthy inflammatory response and build new collagen.

 

 

  1. 3. Mood support. Women who are low or deficient in vitamin D have a higher risk of suffering from postpartum depression. Low and deficient levels can develop easily without supplementation especially during winter months, those who have darker skin, live far from the equator, and women breastfeeding because this is when vitamin D requirements are at their highest. Also, vitamin B6 supports mood regulation due to its role in creating feel-good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). 

 

 

  1. 4. Insurance policy. The reality is that up to 45% of pregnancies are unplanned. It is best to be on a prenatal 3-6 months prior to getting pregnant to assure that nutrient reserves are built for you and baby. Once you give birth, staying on a prenatal can help build back what you lost and support your body in case you do become pregnant again sooner than you planned.

 

 

  1. 5. Healthy skin, hair, and nails. B-complex vitamins (especially biotin), inositol, vitamins A, C, D, zinc, and selenium may all help your skin, hair, and nails look and feel their best! 

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Lisa Dreher

Lisa Dreher

Lisa is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Integrative Health. She has been practicing for over a decade and works full time at Dr. Mark Hyman's UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.

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