How Nutrition Needs Differ In Pregnancy & Postpartum

Let’s talk nutrition! We tend to be extra cautious of what we consume (and don’t consume) while we are trying to conceive, or during our pregnancy, to ensure our baby is getting all the nutrients they need to grow into that perfect little bundle of joy. But what exactly DO you need to consume during pregnancy? And how does that change once you give birth and are trying to help your body  recover and feed your newborn? Read on for the facts! 


Growing a baby requires extra energy, minerals, vitamins, and hydration— no surprise there, right? Recommendations for energy intake during pregnancy are (1).

  • 1st trimester: no calorie increase from normal pre-pregnancy intake
  • 2nd trimester: 340 additional calories per day
  • 3rd trimester: 450 additional calories per day

Eating a balanced diet, and supplementing with a prenatal vitamin will help you meet most recommended daily intake (RDI) levels for vitamins and minerals. Pay special attention to folate in the first trimester, and iron in the second and third trimesters (1)

Folate is responsible for DNA synthesis, preventing neural tube defects, and protecting against low birth weight in infants. It also protects against prenatal and postpartum depression in mama. Be sure to choose a prenatal with 5-MTHF or Methylfolate - not folic acid. Folic acid requires many more conversions in your body to become 5-MTHF - the active form of folic acid. The RDI for folate during pregnancy is 600 mcg/day.

Iron is essential for neurodevelopment. During the 2nd and 3rd trimester, your baby begins to stockpile iron to last them through the first 6 months postpartum. Iron recommendations during pregnancy are 27 mg/day. Some prenatal vitamins do not include iron as not all pregnant mothers are deficient. Iron deficiency is especially common in people who follow a vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian diet, so be sure to have your iron levels checked and supplement as needed.

Other essential prenatal nutrients include Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Choline,  Calcium, Iodine, ZInc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Sodium & Potassium. Check your prenatal label for the forms and amounts included. 


Once you give birth, your body transitions into recovery and breastfeeding mode, requiring an extra 350-500 calories per day for fuel. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because your body is doing a lot! 

Some of the stats: 

  • More than 80% of mothers in the U.S. begin their postpartum period breastfeeding their baby. 
  • 1 in 7 women may experience symptoms of postpartum depression in the first year postpartum.
  • Sleep fragmentation and deprivation associated with the postpartum period can have a negative impact on cognition, mood, and motor skills. 

It is important to replenish the nutrient sources that were depleted during pregnancy and birth and continue to be in high demand while your body is feeding your baby. Postpartum mothers require more choline, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Vitamin K2, calcium, zinc, iodine, selenium and magnesium, and less iron and folate. Replacing your prenatal vitamin with an all-in-one postnatal multivitamin and mineral supplement, like New Mama, will help you meet most RDIs for vitamins and minerals in the postpartum period. 

A postpartum supplement should:

  • provide ideal amounts of vitamins, minerals to help your body recover and stay replete after giving birth. 
  • support breast milk production, fortify breastmilk with necessary nutrition for baby, and ensure you are not further depleted while breastfeeding.
  • encourage the body's natural healing processes with botanicals aimed at relieving the most common postpartum symptoms. 

Supporting your body’s changing vitamin and mineral needs by filling any nutritional gaps, as well as supplementing with effective, targeted botanicals can build an enormous defense against your risk of experiencing some very common postpartum nutritional deficiencies and related symptoms. 

For a breakdown of exactly how much and what types of vitamins, minerals & botanicals you need to support your best postpartum, read Prenatal vs. Postnatal Vitamins - What's the difference?


Lactating women should aim to drink 3+ liters (128 oz) of water per day (1). With a new baby, we know that even drinking a glass of water can feel like a chore, but adding a flavorful drink mix like New Mama makes it feel like a treat while getting your vitamins, minerals & beneficial botanicals in at the same time!

By: Jeanne Reilly, Registered Dietitian, Mom, Co-Founder I Am Nurtured