Momful was honored to be featured in Well + Good among brands revamping postpartum nutrition.
Many of these new supplements have spectacular branding, upgraded flavors and capsule styles, and customizable options—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, according to Lauren Manaker, RDN, a dietitian who focuses on prenatal and postnatal health. “Every individual has different nutritional needs based on their genetics, lifestyle, and pregnancy,” she says. While all the options might seem confusing at first, having more choices ultimately benefits you, the consumer. “If the experience is fun, then the chances of actually taking the pills is higher,” says Manaker.
What are the benefits of prenatal vitamins—and why should people consider them?
While getting vitamins and minerals from food sources is generally best (and a healthy diet is important when you’re expecting), experts say it’s still essential for everyone to supplement before, during, and after pregnancy. “As a registered dietitian with 20 years under my belt, I have yet to meet a pregnant person who is able to meet 100 percent of [their] increased needs via diet,” says Manaker.
Getting all of these nutrients is crucial during and after pregnancy, because nutrient deficiencies can impact your health as well as your baby’s, according to Felice Gersh, MD, the founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, CA, and author of PCOS SOS Fertility Fast Track.
Thus the benefits of prenatal vitamins—which provide those nutrients in one or two pills to be taken daily—are immense. When you’re pregnant, for example, a folic acid deficiency is tied to neural tube defects that cause spina bifida (a birth defect of the spine) in babies. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all people who become pregnant take 400 mcg of folic acid (or methylated folate) every day to support healthy nervous system development and reduce the risk of neural tube defects.
Iron is also important. During pregnancy, your doctor will monitor you for anemia—a deficiency in iron due to the increased blood required to supply your baby with oxygen. “Anemia in pregnancy is very common and oftentimes supplemental iron is essential” in the second and third trimesters, says Tamika Cross, MD, an OB/GYN based in Houston, TX.
Beyond folic acid and iron, recommendations for prenatal supplemental essentials aren’t set in stone. Added calcium could be beneficial because your body uses calcium from your bones to supply your growing baby—and if you’re not getting enough of the mineral, that could put you at an increased risk for osteoporosis down the line. Manaker also suggests looking for a supplement that contains vitamin B12, iodine, choline, and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Getting those nutrients from diet alone, “can be challenging for many people,” she explains. And Drs. Cross and Gersh suggest adding vitamins A, C, E, and D to that list. Other nice-to-haves on Dr. Gersh’s list include vitamin K and magnesium.
Read on for some of the latest supplement options available for people who become pregnant, and the experts’ take on their benefits. (To note: Among the four brands we reviewed, Love Wellness and Perelel aren’t yet third-party certified, although they say they have rigorous in-house testing. Momful is UL-certified, while Ritual says its supplements are tested by Eurofins and IEH Labratories.)
Momful’s suite of postnatal vitamins ($26.96 per month per supplement, or $71.10 for all three) was initially designed to help during breastfeeding, but its nutrients also support postpartum recovery. “After overcoming my personal struggle with breastfeeding, one that put my daughter’s health at stake and caused me significant anxiety and guilt, I found that I was far from alone,” says Whitney Poma, the founder and CEO of Momful.
The brand’s postnatal multivitamin simplifies the challenges of being a new parent with targeted levels of nutrients that support recovery from childbirth and are important for breastfeeding. A separate Mom Brain supplement includes additional omega-3 fatty acids to boost the baby’s cognitive development and mom’s mood. A third and separate lactation supplement contains an herbal blend of fenugreek, milk thistle, and shatavari that’s meant to optimize breastmilk production.
The experts’ review: Manaker understands why the omega 3s are in a separate pill (they contain oil, while the multivitamins are in a solid format), but she says they may not be a necessary supplement if you eat enough seafood. She also say that there are no scientific studies (only anecdotal evidence) suggesting that the herbs included in the lactation supplement are beneficial and that they should only be taken under the supervision of a health-care provider.