Breastfeeding is entirely natural, and the widespread consensus is that it’s preferable to formula when it comes to nourishing your baby with all he or she needs to start their life in robust health and grow to the best of their ability.
When nursing, you need to consume even more micronutrients than you needed during the pregnancy. We’ll state first and foremost here that eating a quality nutritious and well-balanced diet takes precedence over any supplementation regimen – diet is the primary influence on breast milk nutritional status and quality. In considering this, it’s worth noting that apparently only 30% of North American women consider their diet to be of sufficient nutritional quality overall.
Accordingly, taking a quality multivitamin while nursing is recommended, and especially so considering further that research now challenges the long-held belief that breastfed infants will be sufficiently nourished regardless independent of the mother’s nutritional status. The quantity and quality of available nutrients and vitamins from the mother has a direct correlation to the health benefits the child receives from breastfeeding and it's advisable to buy multivitamins online.
Further, the increased nutritional demands that come with producing breast milk can lead to a depletion of the mother’s vitamins and minerals, and that can create a susceptibility to illness for her. For these reasons, taking a broad-spectrum multivitamin is the right choice while continuing with prenatal vitamins is not advisable. Prenatal vitamins are heavy on iron and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A that can build up to dangerous levels.
Specific Vitamins and Benefits for Nursing Mother & Baby
- Additional Vitamin D is beneficial if mother (and child) do not spend much time in natural sunlight, which is common and understandable given concerns over prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. Vitamin D is needed to develop strong bones, and the recommended intake for nursing mothers is 400IU per day.
- The entire spectrum of B vitamins along with Vitamin C are waters-soluble, so in addition to providing quality building blocks for your baby they also work to boost your production of breast milk, and that can be of benefit to women who are not producing a sufficient volume naturally. Note; the quantity of breast milk will not increase indefinitely. Also, getting sufficient water-soluble vitamins will ensure that your breast milk transfers nutrients to your baby with maximum efficiency.
- Calcium: Calcium leaves the bones during breastfeeding, so it’s of significant importance for nursing women to replace this very essential nutrient for women’s health. You should drink 3 cups of milk a day, but you can also get added calcium from a quality post-natal vitamin as well and that will be preferable for most women.
- Zinc and iron: These two nutrients are also drained from the body during breastfeeding. As is the case with calcium, you can make up for the deficiency with a quality multi or post-natal vitamin.
- Vitamin C: What’s notable here is that women actually need MORE vitamin C while nursing than they do during the pregnancy itself. For women who are 18 or younger, make sure you get 115 milligrams a day from your multi or post-natal vitamin, and for women 19+ you should intake 120 milligrams. Vitamin C has many benefits, but most notably here it can counter anemia in nursing mothers.
- Vitamin E: Also essential for a breastfeeding mother for assisting in the growth of the eyes, liver, and hair of the baby.
- Iodine: 105 micrograms is recommended to prevent the baby developing low thyroid levels.
- DHA: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is found in fish liver oil, and most quality multivitamins and post-natals will include it in larger quantities for the fact it is the prime source of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as Vitamin D (which also promotes optimal absorption of calcium). Breast milk contains approximately 4 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, and 7 grams of carbohydrates – and these proportions do not change even when the mother’s diet does. Fatty acid composition does change, however, and high DHA intake by mothers during pregnancy and lactation results in enhanced cognitive function in their children.
- Vitamin B1: Also known as Thiamine, this vitamin is very helpful for helping women deal with postpartum fatigue from nursing. That’s because it promotes better conversion of food into energy, and nearly every new mom will relate to that need.
- Strict vegans who are breastfeeding and may need to supplement with additional Vitamin B12.
- Probiotics are also highly recommended for intestinal health and fortitude.
Avoid Panax Ginseng, which is commonly found in energy and drink bars. It contains strong compounds that have the potential to harm infants.
Another tip for promoting greater production of breastmilk is to take 2-3 fenugreek pills a week.
A multivitamin is nearly always preferable to a prenatal vitamin, for a number of reasons but most primarily because, as mentioned, the elevated iron and fat-soluble vitamin levels of the prenatal is not suitable for a breastfeeding mother. Over ingestion of other individual vitamins – like Vitamin A for example – can also lead to toxicity in the body, so rather than supplementing with specific vitamins on their own it is better – and more convenient – to take them in a broad-spectrum multivitamin or a specifically postnatal vitamin.
Take a look at the package and try to confirm that yours features the specific vitamins we’ve highlighted here. Though challenging, this is a particularly enjoyable time of your life and it makes sense to ensure that you’re making the most of it in the interest of raising a healthy baby / soon-to-be child.