Pregnancy can be a confusing time, with friends, family and pharmaceutical companies offering all kinds of conflicting advice.
While you may be confused by all the supplements and therapies suggested to you – from calcium supplements to Kegels – don’t let it get you down.
Many of these treatments and products are marketed as necessities for healthy pregnancies, but do you need to shell out on specific supplements, and what’s the difference between prenatal vs postnatal vitamins anyway?
If you’re planning for a pregnancy, you’ve probably heard a lot about specialized vitamin supplements (prenatal and postnatal vitamins) designed to support a healthy pregnancy. Because pregnancy requires a lot of vitamins and nutrients, it’s vital to maintain healthy levels of essential nutrients for your and your baby’s health.
To this end, many supplement manufacturers have created specific blends of vitamins and minerals designed to support healthy pregnancies, though some ingredients – like vitamin D and folic acid – can easily be found in other sources. Most are divided based on prenatal vs postnatal vitamins, though the differences aren’t immediately noticeable.
Are Prenatal and Postnatal Vitamins The Same?
No: Prenatal and postnatal vitamins have several significant differences, as they are targeted to support women’s health needs, which change dramatically before and after pregnancy. For example, most prenatal vitamins support general health and healthy foetal development with compounds like folic acid and vitamin D – which protect against neural tube defects (NFTs) and promote healthy bone development.
Contrastingly, postnatal vitamins target energy, immune response and lactation with herbal extracts and vitamins like iron, vitamin B6 and iodine, which new mothers often lack. In short, you could say that the main difference between prenatal vs postnatal vitamins is their focus on development and recovery, respectively.
Should I take prenatal or postnatal vitamins after birth?
As the name implies, postnatal (meaning “of or occurring after birth”) vitamins are recommended for new mothers, although there’s no harm in finishing off your prenatal supplements. Most postnatal vitamins are intended to restore healthy levels of vitamins and minerals and make sure that your newborn gets the nutrients they need from breastfeeding, unlike prenatal vitamins.
As they tend to include higher levels of vitamins A, C, D, K and minerals like magnesium, postnatal supplements ensure that you and your baby get the nutrients you need. However, you should ask your doctor to see if you’re at risk of specific deficiencies before switching to a high-dose supplement, although they are better in the period after birth when comparing prenatal vs postnatal vitamins.