Most medical professionals will agree that breastfeeding is the healthiest and best way to feed your new baby. In addition to providing essential vitamins and nutrients, breast milk also helps protect your baby against infection. Many experts assert, however, that simply eating a well-balanced diet may not be enough to ensure breastfeeding mothers get enough of the nutrients needed to maintain optimal health. Most doctors suggest mothers supplement their diets with vitamins while breastfeeding.
Often times, women opt to continue with the same prenatal vitamin used throughout her pregnancy. Nursing women, however, have unique nutritional needs that are not necessarily addressed by a typical prenatal vitamin to help ensure optimal health for both mom and baby.
Postnatal Vitamins While Breastfeeding
Breast milk alone does not provide infants with an adequate amount of vitamin D. Shortly after birth, most infants will need an additional source of vitamin D.
To avoid developing a vitamin D deficiency, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend breastfed and partially breastfed infants be supplemented with 400 IU per day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life. Families who do not wish to provide a supplement directly to their infant should discuss with a healthcare provider the risks and benefits of maternal high dose supplementation options.
Once a child has started eating solid foods, parents can make sure their child is getting enough vitamin D from foods or supplements.
Why are infants at risk for vitamin D deficiency?
The risk for vitamin D deficiency is increased when there is limited exposure to sunlight or when an infant is not consuming an adequate amount of vitamin D. Although reducing sun exposure is important for preventing cancer, it also decreases the amount of vitamin D that a person can make from sunlight.