Postpartum Supplements and Treatments for Mental and Physical Health

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Imagine giving birth and going home to be met with regular visits from midwives and doulas, having lactation consultations and taking significant time to rest. Envision checking into a luxury hotel for a days-long retreat with practitioners, workshops, a nutrition plan and spa treatments. 

In many countries this is what postpartum care looks like. Meanwhile, in the U.S., one in four women go back to work within two weeks of birth, per Paid Leave U.S., although the Family and Medical Leave Act requires at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave. In addition, care — think lactation education, pelvic floor exercises and mental health tips — doesn’t go far beyond when parents leave the hospital, especially as it can be difficult to get insurance coverage for some types of care. 

“What we see in other countries highlights the material benefits of some of these offerings and the consumer desire for them,” said Anna Pione, an analyst at McKinsey. “The U.S. is more nascent on a lot of these offerings. It doesn’t seem to be because U.S. consumers don’t want them. It’s because it is cost prohibitive.” 

While there are no concrete systems in the U.S. to provide effective postpartum care, in large part due to the medical system, brands are doubling down on products and services that could address this unmet need in the midst of the focus on women’s health overall. According to McKinsey, pregnancy and motherhood is a $35 billion to $40 billion addressable market in the U.S. alone. The Biden administration recently announced its Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) Sprint for Women’s Health, which will allocate $100 million to women’s health research. 

Of the products and services currently on the market, two focuses have arisen in both health care and consumer goods and services: mental well-being and physical health post-birth. 

According to the World Health Organization, 13 percent of people who have recently given birth experience some sort of mental health issue, predominantly depression.

Last year, the first oral drug for postpartum depression Zurzuvae was approved by the FDA, opening up a wider conversation around women’s and mental health. While experts say we are in the first wave of the postpartum boom, the success of this drug could predict the future growth of both postpartum and women’s health overall. 

“If this postpartum oral medication goes well, it might make it an interesting category for traditional pharma to go into other stages of women’s health,” said Rachel Hirsch, founder of Wellness Growth Ventures, a seed fund focused on female-founded wellness companies. 

In an effort to address postpartum depression further, platforms like Mavida Health, which provides virtual maternal mental health care, have recently launched. Experts say that telehealth services pose a huge opportunity in this space, as they provide increased access to care. 

“Barring emergency…you have to prioritize taking care of the patients who are pregnant and so schedules get full with pregnant patients. If you look at the data, the delays for an OB-GYN appointment are astronomical in this country,” said Dr. Somi Javaid, founder of HerMD. “That’s why we have such a mental health crisis, particularly in the postpartum period. That’s what makes telehealth so nice.” 

Mavida platform.

Postpartum retreats — often called “mommymoons,” like Post Pamper and Boram, also work to address both mental health and physical needs post-birth. Specifically, Post Pamper, a San Diego-based postpartum retreat that has partnered with Noble House Hotels & Resorts, offers an array of services like lactation consultations, maternal mental health therapy, pelvic floor therapy and newborn and family photography. In addition, the retreat provides post-stay resources, including the ability to book a doula to come to your home — this is to ensure care goes beyond the first few weeks after birth. 

“Not only can you rest and recover and bond but you can also get that newborn/infant education, postpartum healing information, quality nutrition,” said Post Pamper founder Katie McGinley. “The feedback so far is overwhelming to the point where it just highlights that the gap is so strong in the U.S.”

While these retreats are effective and similar to the care provided in other countries, cost is a major barrier, as some charge up to $1,050 per night. Although experts say there’s perhaps the most potential when it comes to health care services like the ones above, there is a growing opportunity for consumer goods and services, like supplements, topicals and fitness programs, which can be more accessible. 

Ritual Postnatal Multivitamin

Brands like Ritual and Needed offer ingestible products that cover a span of women’s health needs from daily wellness to pre- and post-natal.

Katerina Schneider, founder of Ritual, has seen a significant shift over the past few years in terms of interest in postpartum products — most notably, when the brand launched at Target, the retailer wanted the Postnatal Multivitamin, $39, which addresses post-birth nutrient gaps and supports healthy lactation with ingredients like Omega-3 DHA, choline and zinc. 

“It’s becoming more of a mass type product,” Schneider said. 

Javaid added: “Recognition that the nutritional needs are different for a postpartum individual, whether they’re lactating or not, is a victory in itself.”

Ritual’s postpartum offering has expanded to include its Essential Protein Daily Shake Pregnancy & Postpartum, $32, and Natal Choline, $25, which can be taken while breastfeeding and claims to boost milk quality and baby’s processing speed. Furthermore, the brand has recognized the need for postpartum care and is now offering 20 weeks of paid family leave to its employees, while also imploring Congress to establish national paid family and medical leave.

Needed is another brand tapping into the postpartum supplement space. It recently launched its Cognitive Support, $65, a blend of nootropics and botanicals that support brain health, as focus and attention are often impacted post-birth due to stress, hormone shifts and nutrient depletion. 

Needed Cognitive Support
Needed Cognitive Support

“One of the underserved needs that we heard again and again in our customer base was the cognitive component: brain fog [and] mental clarity,” said Needed cofounder Ryan Woodbury. 

With this supplement and many products and services in this market, “the overarching theme [is] how do you rebuild mom’s vitality and help her feel like herself again,” according to Woodbury. 

While Ritual and Needed have doubled down on women’s health supplements, it is becoming increasingly common for broader brands to have a postpartum supplement — for example, Nutrafol has its Postpartum Hair Growth Nutraceutical, $88. Then, there’s more physical offerings such as Dermoplast’s new no-touch Postpartum Spray, $8, formulated with 20 percent benzocaine and menthol to soothe the perineal area — this product has also become a fan favorite in retail.

Dermoplast Postpartum Spray
Dermoplast Postpartum Spray

“A lot of our key retailers, Walmart in particular, are actually now dedicating space to new and expecting moms,” said Joanne Freyhof Fox, head of marketing for Dermoplast.

Aside from products and retail distribution, postpartum fitness has become increasingly popular with creators like Megan Roup of The Sculpt Society creating programming from pregnancy to post-birth, allowing users to follow along at the same stage.

“Seeing another woman’s body going through that stage of life is really important when you’re in it,” Roup said. In an effort to expand the conversation around postpartum fitness, Roup has also joined Solly Baby, a baby wrap brand, as its movement director creating content using its products.

Megan Roup x Solly Baby
Megan Roup x Solly Baby

While there is significant movement in the category, it doesn’t come without its challenges, according to experts. 

“If you have a company that’s just oriented toward mom, the challenge becomes customer acquisition cost, because a woman is not in that phase of life for that long,” Pione said. “You’re constantly paying to acquire and gain awareness with a new consumer base and that gets quite expensive.” 

Therefore, winners in the space could be ones that look at mom and baby or the lifespan of a woman’s health concerns, according to Pione. In addition, while certain women’s health categories like menopause still aren’t seeing sales that match the level of increased conversation, experts say postpartum will likely grow quicker.

“It’s going to advance faster, partially because of the generations going through it,” Hirsch said. “The generation having children right now is open to health care in a totally different way and even that helps with innovation and spend.”

In terms of potential, she added: “It’s going to be unprecedented growth that everyone is going to be shocked by.”

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