6 Vitamins You Need While Breastfeeding
You know what's cool about breastfeeding? The fact that you literally give life to your baby.
You know what's not cool about breastfeeding? That your baby literally sucks the life out of you.
Each and every time I've nursed a baby, I haven't really taken care of myself in the process. And let me tell you what: it has shown.
My hair fell out, I was exhausted and always thirsty, I was hungrier than I ever thought possible, and most telling of all, I always got really, really sick. Once I even had to be hospitalized with mastitis, which was extremely unfortunate.
So when our child's pediatrician (of all doctors) admonished me and warned me to take extra vitamins, I finally listened. Turns out, most women take their prenatal vitamins religiously, but when it comes to nursing, they ignore supplements and just hope for the best.
Breastfeeding takes as much out of our bodies as growing that baby does, so it's important to make sure you are putting all the right nutrients in so the right nutrients will come out. Makes sense, right?
In addition to a well-balanced diet that includes an extra 450-500 calories a day to ensure adequate milk supply, you may want to consider adding the following vitamins to your breastfeeding regimen. (But, as always, check with your doctor first!)
- Vitamin D. I started adding vitamin D to my diet after reading that it's a great immune booster. And since I was breastfeeding, I just couldn't afford to keep getting sick. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends that breastfed babies receive vitamin D.
- Your prenatal vitamin. Your prenatal vitamin is a great way to add some vital nutrients when you're breastfeeding. No need to stop taking it, says the ACOG. Just be sure to cross-check if you're taking additional supplements so you don't take too much of one vitamin.
- Calcium. UpToDate notes that breastfeeding can cause a temporary loss of bone mass for women. To prevent the loss and help rebuild bone strength after breastfeeding, it is recommended that breastfeeding women (and actually, all women, too!) consume at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. If you're not getting this through your food, you will need a calcium supplement.
- Vitamin B12. Vegans and women who do not eat chicken, meat, fish, or dairy will need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.
- Iron. If you had anemia during your pregnancy, you will want to check your iron levels, and make sure you take a supplement during breastfeeding, too.
- Omega-3. If you're not eating fish on the regular, once or twice a week, you may want to talk to your doctor about adding an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your diet.
Did you take any supplements while breastfeeding that you found were helpful?