Nutrition During Breastfeeding

Image of a mother breastfeeding her baby

Nutrition and Breastfeeding

To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed?

If you are expecting, you are probably giving some thought to how you will feed your bundle of joy once she enters the world. The loud and clear message from the vast majority of health care providers is that breastfeeding is best for the development of your baby.

Case in point: In a policy statement issued in 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics reaffirmed its support of breastfeeding with its recommendation for “exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.”

What are the Nutritional Benefits?

While we continue to see low breastfeeding rates in the United States when compared to most other parts of the world, the research on the benefits of breast milk is rock-solid – there is simply no adequate substitute for breast milk when it comes to protecting the health of your baby.

Breast milk contains the exact amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that your baby needs. Breast milk also contains antibodies, growth factors, essential fatty acids, and hormones that protect your baby from illness and help him develop at just the right pace.

Breastfed babies have a reduced risk of many childhood diseases, including asthma, ear infections, intestinal infections, and allergies. Also, breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of medical conditions and diseases that show up in adulthood, such as obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

One question that many new moms ask is whether or not it is necessary to take a vitamin supplement while they are breastfeeding. Just like during pregnancy, your nutritional intake is very important while you breastfeed – the healthier you are, the easier it will be sustain the energy you need to care for your newborn.

Research shows that the higher the nutritional quality of the mom’s diet, the higher the nutritional quality of the milk. So while you are nursing, be sure to take care of yourself as best as you can: eat a well-balanced diet (you will need about 300-500 extra calories a day while you are nursing), drink plenty of water, and get as much rest as possible.

Should I Take a MultiVitamin While Breastfeeding?

Many breastfeeding moms also find it beneficial to take a multivitamin, as it offers some security that they are getting a sufficient amount of nutrients to protect their health and produce quality breast milk. While many women opt for their normal multi or prenatal vitamin, there are postnatal vitamin supplements available specifically for breastfeeding women.

Nursing Blend is one such supplement formulated to meet your unique nutritional needs while you breastfeed. It provides 100% Daily Value of most vitamins, and extra amounts of vitamins known to be especially important for lactating women, including 700% Daily Value of Vitamin D and 200% Daily Value of the B vitamins.

And in the event that you experience any difficulty establishing your milk supply, Nursing Blend also contains natural galactagogues such as fenugreek to help you build and maintain your milk supply.

Compiled from the following References:

American Acadamy of Pediatrics. Policy Statement. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, March 2012.

Wagner, Carol L. New insights into vitamin D during pregnancy, lactation and early infancy. Hale Publishing, Texas, 2010.

Ziesel SH. Is maternal diet supplementation beneficial? Optimal development of infant depends on mother’s diet. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(suppl):685S-7S.

Picciano MF and McGuire MK. Use of dietary supplements by pregnant and lactating women in North America. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(suppl):663S-7S.

Greer FR. Introduction. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89(suppl):661S-2S.

Lovelady CA, Stephenson KG, Kuppler KM, Williams JP. The effects of dieting on food and nutrient intake of lactating women. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006 Jun;106(6):908-12.

Greer FR. Do breastfed infants need supplemental vitamins? Pediatr Clin North Am. 2001 Apr;48(2):415-23.

Kontic-Vucinic O, Sulovic N, Radunovic N. Micronutrients in women’s reproductive health: I. Vitamins. Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2006 May-Jun;51(3):106-15.

Sneed SM, Zane C, Thomas MR.The effects of ascorbic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folic acid supplementation on the breast milk and maternal nutritional status of low socioeconomic lactating women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981 Jul;34(7):1338-46. Thomas MR, Kawamoto J, Sneed SM, Eakin R.