Nutrition for Nursing: The Essential Breastfeeding Vitamins for You and Your Baby
If you’re breastfeeding, or planning to, it’s a good idea to swot up on the nutrients you need both for you and your baby. While food should always be our primary source of vitamins and minerals, supplementing can help women to meet additional nutritional needs during this time.
It’s worth having a conversation with your midwife or GP for specific advice but in this article, we share the most common nutrients that breastfeeding mothers need to pay attention to and why.
6 nutrients for breastfeeding
- Transferring Vitamin D to the Baby - vitamin D is essential for baby's growth and development, especially the formation of strong bones and teeth. Breast milk is an effective way to deliver vit D, although levels depend on the mother's status. If the mother is deficient, breast milk may not provide enough.
- Preventing Deficiency - breastfeeding mothers are at risk, especially in regions with limited sunlight or during the winter, which can lead to a decreased supply of vitamin D in breast milk.
- The Mother's Health - vitamin D is essential for supporting mothers’ overall health, including the immune system, bone health, and mood.
- The Baby's Immune System - vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of infections and promote overall health during the early stages of life.
Our best-selling Mango & Passionfruit Vitamin D drink is a great source for your daily vitamin D. Containing 200% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin D, you can't go wrong with this tropical wonder!
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Baby's Brain and Eye Development - DHA plays a vital role in the growth and function of the brain and retinas, making it critical during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Supporting Baby's Immune System - omega-3 and omega-6 contribute to the development and regulation of the baby's immune system, helping protect against infections and illnesses during early life.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects - EPA and DHA can be beneficial for a mother’s recovery during the postpartum period.
- Maternal Health - omega-3 helps with mood regulation, reducing the risk of postpartum depression and supports cardiovascular health.
- Replenishing Iron Stores - during pregnancy, a woman's iron stores increase to support both mother and baby's needs. After giving birth, especially if there was blood loss during delivery, stores are depleted which can affect maternal health, impacting the immune system and energy levels.
- Preventing Iron Deficiency Anaemia – not getting enough iron during breastfeeding can lead to iron deficiency anaemia, causing fatigue, weakness, and decreased immune function.
- Providing Adequate Iron for the Baby - breast milk is a good source of iron for babies, however iron needs increase as the baby grows and breast milk supplies may not be sufficient, especially if the mother's levels are low.
Our Multivits + Iron Daily Supplement Tablets are a great way to ensure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs for you and your baby to thrive. One tablet contains vitamins A, B complex, C, D3, E and iron.
Folic acid (Folate or vitamin B9)
- Replenishing Folate Levels – folate needs increase during pregnancy to support the rapid growth and development of the baby and are often depleted after giving birth. This can negatively impact the mother’s energy levels and increase the risk of anaemia.
- Ensuring Sufficient Folate in Breast Milk - adequate intake by the mother ensures that breast milk contains the required amount for baby's growth and development.
Reducing the Risk of Birth Defects - folic acid before and during pregnancy is crucial for reducing the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. While breastfeeding, folate continues to support baby's health and development.
- Maternal Health - B12 plays a critical role in the production of red blood cells, nerve function, and DNA synthesis. It is essential for supporting energy levels, the nervous system, and overall well-being.
- Healthy Development of Baby's Brain and Nervous System – B12 is essential for the neurological system.
- Preventing Deficiency - deficiency in breastfeeding mothers can lead to anaemia, fatigue, weakness, mood disturbances and tingling or numbness in hands and feet.
- Maternal Bone Health - sufficient intake helps support baby’s growth and development and if the mother doesn’t consume enough, calcium may be drawn from her bones to meet the baby's needs. This may lead to a decrease in bone density and increased risk of osteoporosis or other bone-related issues later in life.
- Muscle Function - involved in muscle contraction and nerve transmission, calcium supports physical activity which helps to promote overall wellbeing for the mother.
- Preventing Deficiency - can lead to symptoms such as muscle cramps, fatigue, and weakened bones.
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