Prenatal vitamins are often recommended for use before, during and even after a pregnancy. Once your pregnancy is over, you may continue to benefit from your prenatal if you are breastfeeding. Without continual input from your doctor, you may be confused about when you can switch back to a standard multivitamin. Before you stop your prenatal, there are a few things to consider.
Prenatals During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, chances are you are already taking a prenatal vitamin every day. This is important: prenatal vitamins contain more vitamins and minerals than the average multivitamin, even one that is designed specifically for women’s needs. While the first trimester of pregnancy is often stressed as an important time for prenatal vitamins to get the baby off to a healthy start, prenatals are important for the duration of your pregnancy. As your baby continues to grow and develop, he will need those extra nutrients. If prenatals are making you ill, try taking them with a snack or later in the day, but continue taking them unless told otherwise by your doctor.
Prenatals After Pregnancy
After you’ve had the baby is not necessarily the time to stop the prenatals. If you are breastfeeding, you may wish to keep them in your daily routine. Breastfeeding moms are no longer growing a baby inside them, but they still are growing a baby outside of them: breast milk is all the nutrition babies need. The contents of a woman’s breast milk depend on the nutrients she eats. The Breastfeeding Coalition of Washington recommends continuing your prenatal vitamin to ensure you get enough of many essential nutrients, such as folic acid, calcium and iron. Even if you are not breastfeeding, continuing prenatals will help you build up iron stores that were depleted during delivery. You can opt to change to a multivitamin at this stage; however, you should first check with your doctor to make sure a multivitamin is sufficient for your needs and those of your newborn, or if you should continue with your prenatal.
Prenatals After Breastfeeding
Once your baby has been born and you are either not breastfeeding or you have stopped breastfeeding, it is ok to stop taking your prenatal. Some women choose to continue simply for nutritional needs; however, Columbia Health states that if you are not pregnant or planning a pregnancy, a prenatal vitamin may actually provide you with too much extra nutrition. Nonpregnant women need only about two-thirds the iron a pregnant woman needs. Women who take extra iron every day run the risk of developing iron toxicity over time, as the mineral is stored in the body. If not used, it can cause symptoms of digestive upset and even death.
Planning the Next One?
Women who are trying to become pregnant should start taking a prenatal vitamin a few months beforehand to prepare the body for pregnancy. If you chose to breastfeed your baby and are ready to start trying for the next one, your doctor may advise you not to stop taking your prenatal vitamin at all. Or, you may have only a few months of downtime between pregnancies. Whatever the case, involve your doctor whenever you are considering changing from one supplement to another, especially when it involves prenatal vitamins.