Prenatal Vs Postnatal Vitamins: What's The Difference?

Taking care of your overall health is important at all times, but when you are pregnant it is especially important to make sure you are doing all you can to keep your wellbeing in check. That’s because you are not just trying to be healthy for your own sake, but for your baby’s - and that is something that you need to think about all the way from when you are trying to get pregnant to after your baby is born.

Most women in this position have heard plenty about the benefits and uses of vitamins to help progress and improve one’s health and the baby’s wellbeing. Two of the major types of vitamin that you are going to want to look into and know about are prenatal vitamins and postnatal vitamins. Each of these are useful in their own way, and they are worth looking into if you want to make sure you are doing all you can for your baby.

But what are the major similarities and differences between them, and how should you go about using them? Read on to discover everything you ever wanted to know about prenatal vitamins versus postnatal vitamins. You’ll find it is a lot simpler than people often make it out to be.

Prenatal Vitamins: What Are They?

First of all, let’s take a look at vegan prenatal vitamins. What exactly are they, and when do you actually need to take them? Generally, you are going to be taking prenatal vitamins whenever you are pregnant, and up until you give birth. However, most women also like to take prenatal vitamins when they are in the lead up to becoming pregnant. Now, of course you don’t always know that you are going to become pregnant, as sometimes it’s a surprise. But you should definitely take these vitamins if you are thinking about becoming pregnant, and certainly if you are actively trying to conceive.

So what are these vitamins going to do for you? Well, during pregnancy your body changes in a huge number of ways, most of these being the result of hormonal adaptations as your baby grows inside you. This means that the individual needs of the body also change, and you are going to find that you need to treat your body a little differently as you progress through pregnancy. This is where prenatal vitamins can be enormously helpful.

There are many nutrient changes that take place during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins help you by giving you all the vitamins you need in order to keep healthy and strong. Generally, the vitamins in question that you will get from prenatal vitamins are as follows:

  • Folate. This is essential for everybody, not just pregnant women, as it is vital for many of the body’s most important functions. But when you are pregnant, your need for folate increases significantly, so a good prenatal vitamin should always include plenty of it. Normally, it is synthesized in the form of folic acid - so that is what you will probably be looking out for on the label.
  • Omega-3. You probably know omega-3 as the fatty fish nutrient that acts as brain food. It’s true that it’s good for the brain, and it also happens to be a healthy source of fat, which is always good news. When you are pregnant, omega-3 helps not just with your own brain and eyes, but with the development of your child’s too.
  • B12. It is surprisingly common amongst women to have a deficiency of B12, so plenty of women today already take a B12 supplement. But whether or not that is true for you, you certainly want to start taking it when you are thinking about pregnancy or actually pregnant. It helps with your energy levels, allowing your body to provide more sustenance to the baby. Bear in mind that if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll need a little extra, as you are not getting B12 from animal products.
  • Choline. This is a truly key nutrient that supports fetal neurodevelopment, and along with omega-3 allows for the brain to develop as healthily as possible. All good prenatal vitamins will include a healthy dose of choline.
  • Iodine. Your need for iodine practically doubles during pregnancy, so you definitely need to get more of this at this time. Iodized salt is a common and very effective place to get iodine, but because you’ll probably cut back on processed foods when you are pregnant, you might find it hard to get enough of that salt. (Of course, cutting back on processed food is definitely a good thing overall). Get your iodine through a supplement instead for the best of both worlds.
  • Biotin. If you want both yourself and your baby to have normal metabolisms, then you are going to need to have plenty of biotin too - fortunately, this is normally present in prenatal vitamins.
  • D3. .Another basic and very important vitamin, D3 is the one that we get from the sun. If you are stuck indoors during pregnancy, you’ll definitely want to get more in the form of a supplement.
  • Iron. For the growth and development of red blood cells, you and your baby need iron. Always look to include iron in your diet, and get a little extra in your vitamins while you are pregnant too. It is one of the most important in all of this list, so don’t overlook it.

As you can see, prenatal vitamins are a hugely important thing to focus on, and you’ll need to ensure you are sourcing the good stuff when you are pregnant or trying to conceive. You should take these vitamins all the way through to birth - at which point, your body goes through changes yet again, and you’ll need to think about swapping them out for postnatal vitamins instead. Let’s look at this next, so you can know what best to do when that time comes for you.

Postnatal Vitamins: Making The Switch

There is a lot of debate and back-and-forth about when you should make the switch from prenatal vitamins to postnatal vitamins, how you should do it, whether you should phase out one and start another, and so many other concerns besides. Truth be told, with your entire world changing as your baby is born, you will probably already feel that you have quite a lot on your plate without having to worry about this too. But it is something you need to think about.

Fortunately, it’s much more straightforward than people tend to assume. In terms of when to make the switch, you simply need to do it once you have given birth. After giving birth, your body has completely new nutritional demands all of a sudden, and you need to do all you can to ensure you are meeting them. That’s where your postnatal vitamins come in. Where the prenatal vitamins helped you to grow a healthy baby, the postnatal supplements will allow you to keep on looking after your body as it recuperates from the experience of being pregnant and giving birth.

Of course, that’s not the only reason that you need to think about this: there is also breastfeeding. Lactation increases the body’s demand for over half of the essential micronutrients that bodies depend on, so you need vitamin supplements that are going to help you with those new needs. On the face of it, postnatal vitamins will look very similar to prenatal, with many of the same ingredients as listed above. But the balance will be different, and it is important that you do indeed make the switch.

How Long Should You Take Postnatal Vitamins For?

Another question that most new mothers have is how long to take postnatal vitamins for. The general advice is to take them from birth for around six months postpartum. This is a good period of time to ensure that they are allowed to do their work, but not so long that you might feel overwhelmed by it. Of course, if you want to continue taking the vitamins for longer, that is your right and it’s still going to have benefits. It’s certainly not going to harm you!

If the people around you are telling you all different things, or other mothers that you know are making different decisions, just remember it’s your body and your baby, and the final decision is up to you, not anybody else. You might also want to keep the vitamins going for longer if you are breastfeeding, for instance.

As you can see, both prenatal and postnatal vitamins are hugely important for both you and your baby. It is vital that you are doing all you can to keep your health in check, so you can have better well being for yourself, and also for the sake of your new arrival. These vitamins are a very simple and highly effective way to make sure that you are doing that, so they are definitely worth strongly considering for anyone who is pregnant, thinking to conceive, or who has just given birth.