11 Best Postnatal Vitamins of 2023

11 Best Postnatal Vitamins of 2023

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After you give birth, it’s essential that you get all the nutrients your body needs, regardless of whether you breastfeed. FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin is our dietitian’s pick for the best overall postnatal vitamin.

If you’re like many new birthing parents, every part of you is letting you know just how much energy and effort you spent bringing a baby into the world.

Your body has done a marvelous job at producing another human being, but it has also drawn heavily on your nutrient stores to do so.

Part of your postpartum plan for self-care should be nourishing your body by following a nutrient-dense diet and replenishing lost nutrients through supplementation.

Keep reading for our picks of the 11 best postnatal vitamins.

Pregnancy depletes several nutrients in your body, including folate, vitamin D, iron, fatty acids, selenium, and calcium, so it’s important to get optimal nutrition after delivery.

What’s more, if you’re breastfeeding, your daily recommended doses of many nutrients are even higher than they were in pregnancy.

Because of this increased nutrient demand, people who are breastfeeding have a higher risk of developing nutrient deficiencies.

When you’re lactating, your dietary intake of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); choline; and iodine goes, in part, toward making milk.

Optimal nutrition helps support the growth of your baby’s body and brain. Plus, maintaining optimal nutrient intake is essential to help you feel your best and to give you the energy to take care of yourself and your new baby.

While a nutrient-dense, well-rounded diet can help you meet your nutrient needs, a healthcare professional may recommend taking supplements after delivery to ensure that your nutrient stores are properly replenished, regardless of whether you breastfeed.

When shopping for a postnatal supplement, you should choose a product that’s well rounded and trusted by healthcare professionals.

A good postnatal supplement should contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, including:

  • omega-3s
  • folate
  • choline
  • iron
  • selenium
  • vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D

You may not be able to find a supplement that contains everything you need, especially during breastfeeding, so you may have to take several supplements.

For example, you may need to purchase an omega-3 supplement containing DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in addition to a multivitamin.

We chose the postnatal vitamins on our list using the following criteria:

  • Nutritional content: We included products that are formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of people who are breastfeeding.
  • Ingredient quality: We looked for vitamins that are made from high quality ingredients and free of artificial additives. We also paid special attention to products that are third-party tested for accuracy and purity.
  • Price: We included supplements to suit a range of budgets.
  • Customer reviews: The products listed below have mostly positive online reviews.

Additionally, every brand and product on our list has been vetted to ensure that it aligns with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. Each product in this article:

  • adheres to allowable health claims and labeling requirements, per Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations
  • is manufactured in facilities that adhere to the current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs) established by the FDA
  • is produced by a medically credible company that follows ethical, legal, and industry best standards
  • is made by a company that provides objective measures of trust, such as having its supplements validated by third-party labs

Always check with a doctor or another trusted healthcare professional before beginning any supplement.

Here’s a quick look at our top picks:

* Third-party testing refers to whether the product is tested by independent labs to ensure purity and potency.

During breastfeeding, your needs for certain nutrients are even greater than they were during pregnancy. For this reason, it’s important to continue supplementing your diet with vitamins, minerals, and other essential compounds during your entire breastfeeding journey.

The following nutrients are some of the most important ones for breastfeeding people:

Iron

New birthing parents are sometimes deficient in iron, especially if they had anemia during pregnancy.

“Tiredness, shortness of breath with minimal exertion, and low energy levels are typical symptoms of an iron deficiency,” says Nina Dahan, RD, coordinator of the Nutrition Center at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York.

After you give birth, your doctor will monitor your iron levels. If you’re deficient or become deficient after childbirth or during breastfeeding, your doctor will recommend an iron supplement.

The daily recommendation for iron intake for lactating people ages 19–50 is 9 mg per day. This is about half the recommended amount for non-lactating menstruating people.

Many of the supplements on our list contain little or no iron. Once your period returns, or if your iron levels are low, you’ll want to choose a product containing an adequate amount of iron to maintain optimal stores.

Be sure to consult a healthcare professional to determine how much iron you should be taking.

In addition to taking supplements, consuming iron-rich foods such as organ meats, red meat, and shellfish can help you increase your iron stores naturally.

Iodine

You’ll need this mineral to keep your thyroid in tip-top shape and help your baby’s brain and nervous system develop.

Foods such as iodized salt, fish, dairy products, and foods made from whole grains all contain some iodine. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that breastfeeding people get a total of 290 micrograms (mcg) of iodine daily.

The American Thyroid Association recommends that those who are breastfeeding take a daily supplement that contains 150 mcg of iodine but not consume more than 500–1,100 mcg per day.

Keep in mind that many pre- and postnatal vitamins do not contain iodine. According to the American Thyroid Association, 40% of prenatal vitamins do not contain any iodine.

If your pre- or postnatal vitamin doesn’t contain iodine and you don’t consume iodine-rich foods regularly, you may need a separate iodine supplement to ensure optimal levels.

Be sure to ask your doctor for dosing advice, as taking too much iodine can be harmful for both you and your baby.

Vitamin D

The NIH recommends a daily intake of 600 IU (15 mcg) of vitamin D for breastfeeding people. But does this dosage ensure that your baby gets sufficient vitamin D from your breast milk or that your vitamin D levels remain within a healthy range? Actually, no.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants who are exclusively breastfed or receive less than 1 liter of formula daily get 400 IU of vitamin D daily, from day 1 until their first birthday.

A 2022 review suggests that people can maintain optimal vitamin D levels in both themselves and their breastfed babies by increasing their vitamin D intake to at least 4,000 IU per day.

The researchers found that breastfeeding parents who supplemented with at least 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day provided enough vitamin D through their breast milk to maintain adequate vitamin D levels in their babies.

People who cannot or do not want to breastfeed also often need much more vitamin D than is currently recommended or included in most prenatal and postnatal vitamins. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels, and then supplement with vitamin D3 accordingly.

Vitamin B12

B12 supplements are strongly recommended for breastfeeding parents who follow a diet that includes limited or no animal products, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Such diets can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency in the parent and the baby, as this vitamin is primarily available from animal-based foods.

Not getting enough vitamin B12 from your diet can affect the nutrient quality of your breast milk and reduce the amount of vitamin B12 your baby is consuming, so it’s critical to consume enough B12 through your diet and supplements.

Even if you’re not following a vegan or strictly plant-based diet, you may develop B12 insufficiency or deficiency. For example, B12 deficiency is more common in people who take certain medications or have certain health conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders.

Your doctor can order blood work to check your B12 levels. If you’re low in B12, your doctor may recommend oral B12 supplements or B12 injections.

Choline

Many breastfeeding parents don’t get enough of this nutrient, which is important for the development and function of a baby’s brain.

Choline is a nutrient that’s similar to B vitamins and essential for mood, memory, muscle function, and more. It’s recommended that breastfeeding parents get a total of 550 mg of choline per day to meet their needs.

In addition to making sure your postnatal supplement contains at least some choline, you can increase your intake of meat, egg yolks, poultry, fish, and dairy products, as these foods are natural sources of choline.

People who follow vegan and vegetarian diets will likely need to supplement with choline, as they are often at a greater risk for choline inadequacy.

DHA and EPA

DHA and EPA are omega-3 polyunsaturated fats that are necessary for the development of your baby’s brain, eyes, and nervous system. Your body does not make these fatty acids, so you’ll need to ensure that you consume enough of them through food or supplements.

Good food choices for EPA and DHA include seafood such as salmon, shellfish, sardines, and trout. Aim to eat these at least once or twice a week.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s important to choose seafood that is low in mercury and to avoid high mercury fish such as swordfish, shark, and marlin.

If you opt for supplements, look for a supplement that has at least 250–375 mg of combined DHA and EPA. Because many pre- and postnatal supplements don’t contain DHA, you may need to take a separate omega-3 supplement, such as a high quality fish oil, to meet your needs.

Many people experience hair loss after pregnancy. Postpartum hair loss is typically due to hormonal changes and is usually temporary.

Many nutrients, including iron, zinc, and vitamin D, play important roles in hair growth, so you’ll want to make sure that your supplement includes these.

Continuing your prenatal supplement and following a nutrient-dense diet rich in protein are some of the best ways to keep your hair healthy after pregnancy.

As many as 50% of women who have recently given birth report feeling the baby blues, which are defined by low mood and mild depressive symptoms that are temporary. The baby blues typically occur within the first few weeks after childbirth but don’t last long.

The baby blues are different from postpartum depression (PPD), a condition that lasts longer and can affect a person’s quality of life. PPD usually occurs within 6 weeks of childbirth and affects up to 20% of women who give birth.

People are more at risk of developing PPD if they have a history of depression or anxiety, had a high risk or complicated pregnancy, have limited social support, get limited sleep, or are physically inactive.

Studies show that being deficient or low in certain nutrients, including vitamin B6 and vitamin D, may increase the risk of PPD as well.

Supplementing with certain nutrients may help reduce the risk of developing PPD. For example, research shows that supplementing with vitamin B6 and omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce depressive symptoms in women with PPD.

Even though evidence suggests that maintaining optimal nutrient levels is important for reducing the risk of PPD and supporting general mood, it’s important to understand that PPD is a serious condition that should be treated by a healthcare professional.

You may require treatment such as therapy and medication, and that’s OK. Don’t try to treat your PPD on your own. Get help from a trusted healthcare professional.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that postpartum care should be an ongoing process, meaning that you should visit your doctor regularly after you give birth.

ACOG recommends that all people who have given birth be in contact with healthcare professionals within the first 3 weeks postpartum. This visit should be followed up with ongoing care as needed.

If you’re experiencing any complications or are feeling unwell, physically or mentally, it’s essential to make an appointment with a healthcare professional to ensure that you’re healthy.

A healthcare professional can also answer any questions you have about postnatal supplementation. If you’re concerned about nutrient deficiencies, they can perform appropriate testing to rule out deficiencies and recommend treatment if needed.

If you’re interested in learning more about your postpartum nutrient needs, reach out to a registered dietitian who specializes in women’s health and pre- and postnatal nutrition.

What’s the difference between prenatal and postnatal vitamins?

While there’s no harm in finishing off your bottle of prenatal supplements (why waste?), postnatal supplements typically include higher doses of vitamins A, C, D, and K and minerals such as magnesium.

The higher doses ensure that both you and your baby get what you need.

“Most women can plan to take the same prenatal vitamin but should ask their obstetrician if they’re at any specific risks for deficiencies based on their medical history, diet, and lifestyle,” says Dr. Christie M. Cobb, an OB-GYN in Little Rock, Arkansas.

If you choose to continue taking your prenatal supplements, be sure to check that the daily dose of choline is up to par. “The WHO [World Health Organization] recommends increasing choline intake to 550 milligrams daily during lactation,” Cobb says.

When should I switch to a postnatal vitamin?

You can start taking your postnatal vitamins as soon as you’ve given birth. Continue to take them for as long as you’re breastfeeding your baby.

What vitamins should I take postpartum?

After giving birth, your body needs additional support to replenish your nutrient stores and ensure you’re getting optimal nutrition during breastfeeding and postpartum recovery.

If you’re breastfeeding, your needs for many nutrients are even higher than they were during pregnancy. This is because your dietary intake of DHA, choline, iodine, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, and D is important for milk production.

Do postnatal vitamins have any side effects?

Postnatal supplements don’t usually have any side effects.

You may feel nauseated after taking vitamins, especially if the supplement requires you to take a large number of pills. If this is the case, try a protein powder supplement or a chewable supplement instead.

If your postnatal supplement is high in iron, it may cause constipation. However, some forms of iron, including iron bisglycinate, are less likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects like constipation than other forms of iron, such as ferrous sulfate.

How long do you need to take postnatal vitamins?

Perhaps you were taking a prenatal vitamin while you were pregnant. In many cases, healthcare professionals recommend continuing to take a prenatal or postnatal vitamin after your baby is born, for as long as you’re breastfeeding.

If you plan on having another baby, some experts say it’s best to continue taking the same prenatal vitamin that you have been.

If you’re unsure whether you still need to take a pre- or postnatal supplement or you have specific questions about how long you should continue taking it, consult a healthcare professional.

The first step to raising a healthy child is ensuring that you’re healthy. Making sure you’re functioning at your best will ensure that your baby is getting what they need to thrive.

Choose a postnatal vitamin that includes a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients, including DHA, choline, iron, zinc, folate, B12, and vitamin D.

Remember that you may need to take separate supplements depending on what’s included in your postnatal vitamin, so be sure to review your supplement’s ingredient list.

Whichever postnatal supplement you choose, make sure it comes from a high quality brand. Your health and happiness will benefit.