Prenatal vs Postnatal Vitamins: What's the Difference?

Prenatal vs Postnatal Vitamins: What's the Difference?

When it comes to nutrient needs, pregnancy and postpartum are two extremely demanding life stages. That probably comes as no surprise; after all, you're building life from within your very own body! Prenatal vitamins help set the stage for a healthy pregnancy, but it’s also important to support your health and healing after your baby arrives—which is where postnatal vitamins come in.

While you might hear advice to just continue taking your prenatal vitamins after pregnancy, postnatal vitamins are specifically formulated for the unique demands of early motherhood—from replenishing nutrient stores, to feeding, to stress.

Here’s what you need to know about the unique benefits of prenatal vs. postnatal vitamins.     

How are Prenatal and Postnatal Vitamins Different?

Prenatal vitamins support you and your baby through each stage of pregnancy. To ensure that you and your baby are getting all the benefits from day one, our experts typically recommend starting them six months to a year before you begin trying to conceive—to prepare your body for this next chapter, but also because certain nutrients like folate are particularly essential for neural tube development during the earliest weeks of pregnancy, before you even know you're pregnant. (In other words, it's better to start building up those nutrient stores sooner rather than later.)Better yet—take it a step further and opt for prenatals that are specifically formulated for individual stages like pre-conception, first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester, like our Conception Support Pack* and Trimester Packs.*

Postnatal vitamins support your health after your baby is born. These supplements provide the nutrients you need for postpartum recovery, breastfeeding, and all the intense physical and emotional demands of the “fourth trimester.”

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While you’ll notice some overlap in the ingredients these different vitamins, each is formulated to provide an optimal balance of nutrients for your specific stage of pregnancy and parenthood. 

Why You Need Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins provide many of the vitamins and minerals you’d typically find in a daily multivitamin, including vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, and iodine. But they also—as their name suggests—provide the essential nutrients you need support your growing baby... and your own health during pregnancy. Getting this baseline nutrition can help reduce the risk of certain birth defects and pregnancy complications. Prenatal vitamins can also help to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet and prevent vitamin deficiencies.

Your nutritional needs increase significantly during pregnancy, and it may be hard to keep up with diet alone—especially if you’re dealing with morning sickness or food aversions. “Even if a woman has an excellent diet, it’s still critical that she optimize minerals—such as iron—and vitamin levels prior to becoming pregnant,” shares our medical Co-Founder, Dr. Banafsheh Bayati, MD, OB/GYN, FACOG. 

Some of the most important nutrients to look for in a prenatal supplement include: 

  • Folate. Folate plays a critical role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects during early pregnancy. “There is also evidence that it may help promote optimal fertilization and implantation,” says Dr. Caitlin O’Connor, ND, a naturopathic doctor and midwife.
  • Iron. This mineral helps to support increased blood volume during pregnancy and prevent iron-deficiency anemia.  
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Research suggests omega-3 fatty acids can help promote healthy brain development—not just in utero, but throughout infancy and childhood.Look for a prenatal vitamin that contains DHA and EPA—two omega-3 fatty acids that work in tandem to benefit a healthy pregnancy.
  • Choline. Low choline levels are associated with neural tube defects and certain pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and low birth weight—so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough choline during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin D. During pregnancy, vitamin D helps to bolster your immune system, support fetal development, and protect against certain adverse pregnancy outcomes. 

Why You Need Postnatal Vitamins

“After baby is born, we often forget about the important role of postnatal vitamins in supporting mom,” says Dr. Sarah Oreck, MD, MS, Reproductive Psychiatry. But postpartum women are going through an extremely challenging period—new mothers tend to be exhausted, meanwhile hormones are going haywire and your body is recovering from the herculean task of creating a new human being from scratch. If you’re breastfeeding, you also need to increase your daily intake of certain key nutrients. In addition to a making sure you're trying your best to have nutritious and balanced diet, postnatal vitamins can help support various aspects of a new mom's health and wellness during this adjustment period. (Hot tip: In a clinical trial with our Mom Multi Support Pack, 70% of participants had more energy and overall mood improvements.)¹

Some of the most important nutrients to look for in a postnatal supplement include: 

  • B vitamins. Vitamin B6 can boost your mood and help to promote restful sleep—both of which can be priceless during the postpartum period. And vitamin B12 helps to support brain development and red blood cell production in infants, making it a vital nutrient for breastfeeding moms.3 
  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D supports healthy immune function and helps to avoid symptoms of deficiency such as fatigue and mood changes.4
  • Folate. Folate helps the body make new cells, which is critical for postpartum healing.5
  • Iron. Research suggests iron deficiency may lead to fatigue and increase your risk of postpartum depression, so it’s important to continue to replenish iron stores after delivery.6
  • Biotin and collagen. Dealing with postpartum hair loss? Collagen can support skin elasticity postpartum, while biotin supports healthy skin, hair, and nails.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids. DHA omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce your risk of postpartum depression and minimize “mom brain.” DHA can be transferred through breast milk, so it’s especially important to replenish your stores if you’re breastfeeding.7

Postnatal supplements may include additional ingredients to support emotional wellbeing. For example, the Mom Multi Support Pack also includes a Stress Support capsule with a combination of Ashwagandha and L-theanine to promote relaxation—in addition to our Core Postnatal.

When should you switch from prenatal to postnatal vitamins?

After your baby arrives, talk to your doctor about making postnatal vitamins a part of your postpartum care plan. Most women benefit from taking postnatal vitamins for at least three months after delivery.8 P.S.—if you're taking our Trimester Prenatal Packs, we'll automatically switch you to our Mom Multi Support Pack* after you give birth when you input your due date.

Planning for pregnancy? Here's our step-by-step guide. 


1 MedlinePlus: Folic acid and birth defect prevention

2 Dean Sherzai, MD, PhD, MPH, MAS, et al; A Systematic Review of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Consumption and Cognitive Outcomes in Neurodevelopment; Sep-Oct 2023

3 CDC: Vitamin B12

4 Cleveland Clinic: Vitamin D Deficiency

5 MedlinePlus: Folic Acid

6 David Susic et al; Wellbeing Forecasting in Postpartum Anemia Patients; Jun 2023

7 American Pregnancy Association: Are Omega-3 Supplements Good for My Baby?

8 Penn Medicine; Vitamins Postpartum: 5 Things to Think About

¹Based on an 8-week independent study of 30 women, ages 25+ who have at least one child under the age of 5 years old.