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Prenatal or Postnatal Multivitamin? Here’s When to Consider Making the Switch

3 min read

Curious about the difference between prenatal multivitamins and postnatal multivitamins? Here's why it matters—and when to make the switch.
Curious about the difference between prenatal multivitamins and postnatal multivitamins? Here's why it matters—and when to make the switch.

Chances are you’re well aware that a prenatal multivitamin is essential to help support the nutrient changes that come with pregnancy. But what women might not realize is that the postpartum period is actually even more nutritionally demanding than pregnancy itself, especially for those who plan on breastfeeding. And that means that a different kind of multivitamin—a postnatal multivitamin, to be specific—can be an important addition to a new mom’s daily routine.*

But let’s get a little more specific about the difference between a prenatal multivitamin and a postnatal multivitamin—and when to consider switching over.

Women should consider taking a prenatal multivitamin when they’re thinking, trying, and when it’s time.

Women’s nutrient needs change as soon as they become pregnant, which is why we like to stick to the “3 month rule”—that is, aiming to start taking a prenatal multivitamin 3 months ahead of time. Of course, that timing isn’t always easy to pin down. But if you’re thinking or trying, it might be time to consider making the switch.

To put it simply, prenatal multivitamins are designed to lend nutrient support during pregnancy. Our Essential Prenatal, for example, is formulated to help fill nutrient gaps in a mom-to-be’s diet.*

What are some key examples of nutrient demands that change during pregnancy? Let’s start with folate, a B vitamin that helps support neural tube development during the early stages of pregnancy. Many prenatal multivitamins will include folic acid, a synthetic form of folate. But since up to one-third of women have a genetic variation that makes it difficult to efficiently utilize folic acid, we prefer to use a more bioavailable form of folate called 5-MTHF in Essential Prenatal.*

Iron, omega-3 DHA, and choline are all other examples of nutrients women need more of to support the nutrient demands of pregnancy. The bottom line? Prenatal multivitamins are essential for women who are expecting.*

Women should consider switching to a postnatal as soon as they give birth, and continue taking one for six months postpartum (or longer, if they’re continuing to breastfeed).*

Baby’s arrival also ushers in a new (and often unparalleled) wave of nutritional demands, especially for lactating mothers. Among the 29 essential micronutrients, lactation increases the demand for more than half of the essential micronutrients compared to pregnancy and other life stages. And our POV is that any mom who has recently birthed a child—whether she chooses to breastfeed or not—deserves to feel supported in her body as she traverses those intense first months.*

A quality postnatal multivitamin specifically formulated for this life stage can help bridge the nutritional needs of new moms. There are 15 nutrients in particular women should consider looking for in a postnatal multivitamin (all of which are included in our Essential Postnatal):

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D3
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Biotin
  • Choline
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Boron
  • Omega-3 DHA
  • Vitamin K2

Some of these nutrients are consistent with most women’s nutritional needs whether they’re expecting, lactating, or not—just in slightly higher levels. Others are to help support nutritional demands associated with postpartum. Either way, a good postnatal multivitamin should help eliminate some of the guesswork around nutrition postpartum. You know…because new moms have plenty of other things to think about.*

When to switch back to a regular multivitamin

When women hit the six month mark after birth and are no longer lactating,a regular multivitamin, like Essential for Women, should help support nutrient needs. For those who are still breastfeeding, stick with a postnatal multivitamin. Pretty simple, right?*

And as always, check with your physician if you have any specific questions about supporting your nutrient needs during this important time. New moms—you got this.

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Meet Our Science Team

What happens when a Harvard trained physiologist, a biochemist, and a registered dietician walk into a lab? The answer: Ritual multivitamins.

WhoWeAre-Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, Ph.D, RD, Ritual's Senior Director of Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh is Ritual's Senior Director of Scientific Affairs and resident dietician. She has a Ph.D in nutritional sciences and has authored multiple papers in peer-reviewed journals, working to translate the latest nutritional recommendations into actionable healthy habits.

WhoWeAre-Mastaneh

Dr. Mastaneh Sharafi, Ph.D, RD, Ritual's Senior Director of Scientific Affairs

Dr. Mastaneh is Ritual's Senior Director of Scientific Affairs and resident dietician. She has a Ph.D in nutritional sciences and has authored multiple papers in peer-reviewed journals, working to translate the latest nutritional recommendations into actionable healthy habits.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

Science Thumb — Nima

Dr. Nima Alamdari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Nima Alamdari is Chief Scientific Officer at Ritual. He was previously faculty at Harvard University where he researched muscle metabolism in health and disease. He received a PhD in Muscle Physiology and a First Degree in Biochemistry from The University of Nottingham in the UK. He has authored many original articles in top international peer-reviewed journals and presented at world-leading international conferences.

Dr. Luke Bucci

Dr. Luke Bucci, Ph.D, CCN, CNS, Research and Technical Fellow

Dr. Luke Bucci received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Texas and has over thirty years of experience in the nutrition industry, encompassing all aspects of scientific applications. He has brought blockbuster products to market, written books, patents and numerous articles, and developed certification programs for clinical nutritionists.

Dr. Luke Bucci

Dr. Luke Bucci, Ph.D, CCN, CNS, Research and Technical Fellow

Dr. Luke Bucci received a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Texas and has over thirty years of experience in the nutrition industry, encompassing all aspects of scientific applications. He has brought blockbuster products to market, written books, patents and numerous articles, and developed certification programs for clinical nutritionists.