Why are supplements important for breastfeeding mothers?
If you thought your nutritional responsibilities as a pregnant woman were immense, then you just need to wait till the lactation phase kicks in! A breastfeeding mother needs to be more alert than ever about her diet, as it will directly impact the quality of her breast milk, and the health and development status of her baby. And no matter how healthy or balanced your diet is, there is always the risk of missing out on some essential nutrient. This is the reason why, supplements, especially vitamins, are recommended by doctors, to make up for any nutrient deficit you might face after childbirth. However, remember that supplements cannot replace nutritious meals, but can only enhance the effectiveness of natural foods.
What are multivitamins for breastfeeding mothers and why are they important?
Multivitamins for breastfeeding mothers usually contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, which help you get the right nutrients, which you eventually pass on to your baby while breastfeeding him or her. These are essential for developing your child’s organs, enhancing his or her immune system, and ensuring optimal growth.
While you are breastfeeding, your body’s daily requirement of certain nutrients like folic acid, calcium, and iron, increases manifolds. If your daily meals are not providing sufficient amounts of micronutrients, you need to consult your doctor about taking supplements.
Here are some more benefits that multivitamin supplements offer lactating mothers:
- These fill up any nutrient gap easily. Like, vitamin D supplements are a must in a woman’s diet if she is breastfeeding. This is because your baby needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus and develop strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a condition that causes softening and weakening of bones.
- Vitamin B12 is important for your baby's brain development. A deficiency can cause immune system disorders, celiac disease or lupus.
- You need calcium supplement (minimum of 1,000mg daily) while breastfeeding too. But make sure you consume dairy products like milk, cheese, yoghurt and paneer along with the supplement.
Side effects of vitamin supplements for breastfeeding moms
In most cases, multivitamins for breastfeeding mothers do not show any side effects. However, some women might face issues like constipation. This can be remedied easily though, by including more fibre in your diet, drinking plenty of fluids, and increasing physical activity.
Finally, the best practice is to take supplements under the supervision of a health care provider or doctor. Also, you should be careful while combining supplements. Iron and calcium should not be taken together as they might compete for absorption in your body. Taking a folic acid supplement along with multivitamins can also raise concerns, as there is a risk of overdosing on a nutrient this way. Hence, always consult your doctor and follow the dosage and combination he or she recommends.