Is parenthood a big responsibility? That might be the biggest understatement in the world. The duties of mothers and fathers are multifaceted and begin piling up even before your little bundle of joy arrives. It’s important to take care of yourself before, during and after pregnancy, so that you and your baby can get the healthy start and nutritional support you need. Pregnancy and lactation place higher calorie and nutrient demands on the body, since the mother must meet the nutritional needs of a growing baby without sacrificing her own nutrient requirements.
Prenatal and postnatal nutrition
Not sure what to eat during pregnancy? Before, during, and after pregnancy, women should focus on a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low- or non-fat dairy and lean protein. Key nutrient gaps in the American diet include vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium.1 Prenatal and postnatal multivitamin/mineral supplements help address key dietary nutrient gaps to support the health of the mother and her developing baby.†
Before pregnancy, women of childbearing age should supplement their diet with a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains at least 400 mcg of folic acid. A daily multivitamin can help fill in dietary gaps and meet daily nutritional requirements for essential nutrients.† Consuming an adequate amount of folic acid is very important when planning a pregnancy, since this B vitamin is important to help support proper development of a baby’s nervous system.† The neural tube is already formed by day 28 of gestation, before many women know they are pregnant. Healthful diets with adequate folic acid may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a neural tube defect.
Women who are trying to get pregnant should start taking a prenatal supplement, and continue to take it throughout pregnancy. Nutrient requirements increase during pregnancy and a daily prenatal multivitamin/mineral supplement with key nutrients such as folic acid, iron, and DHA is often recommended to help supplement diet and meet nutrient needs. Iron needs significantly increase during pregnancy (from 18 mg/day during childbearing years to 27 mg/day during pregnancy) to support the increased blood volume; a prenatal supplement can help meet these higher iron needs.2,† The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may help support fetal eye and brain development.† It is important to point out that calcium and vitamin D are common nutrients gaps in the American diet1, though they are key to supporting bone health.† Look for a prenatal supplement with these key nutrients to provide optimal nutritional support for you and your baby during pregnancy.† There are varying different options of prenatal vitamins that you can choose from. These options range from prenatal gummies for those who prefer not to swallow a tablet, or tablets and softgels.
Why should I take a postnatal supplement after giving birth?
With all of their new responsibilities after giving birth, many mothers may not consume sufficient amounts of nutrient-dense foods. It is important to continue nutritional supplementation even after pregnancy to help fill key dietary gaps for the new mom—higher levels of vitamin D to support overall health and B vitamins for cellular energy demands, to name a few.† A postnatal multivitamin supplement should be taken by women following childbirth, during breastfeeding, to support the enhanced nutrient needs of a nursing mother and her baby.† We know that new mothers have a lot on their plate, getting daily nutritional support from a postnatal multivitamin/mineral supplement is one less thing to worry about!
Learn More About Pregnancy & Women's Health:
- Fulgoni et al. Food, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? J Nutr. 2011; 141:1847-54.
- Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.