Your Nutritional Needs While Breastfeeding
Make sure you get enough nutrients – not just more calories – when you're breastfeeding your baby.
Do You Need Nutritional Supplements While
As long as you are eating a healthy, nutritious diet,
neither you nor your baby are likely to fall short of any vitamins or minerals.
If you also continue to take your prenatal vitamins after birth
-- which many obstetricians now recommend -- then you and your baby are in even
The one supplement your baby mightneed is vitamin D,
necessary to absorb calcium into the bones, says Carol Huotari, IBCLC, manager
for the Center for Breastfeeding information at La Leche League International
in Schaumburg, Ill. Vitamin D is in breast milk, but in low amounts.
What can you do? The sun naturally converts certain
body chemicals tovitamin D, so Huotari suggests taking baby outside for about a
half hour each day. "If your baby gets about 20 minutes of sun exposure on
their cheeks once a day, then they are probably getting enough vitamin D," she
But be careful about exposing your baby to too much
sun, which can cause sunburn and raise baby's risk
of skin cancer in later life. If
you're uncertain about what to do, talk to your pediatrician about this issue,
and ask about the proper dose and type of vitamin D supplements for your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises daily drops of vitamin D for all
In addition, if you are a strict vegetarian, your
breast milk might be missing adequate stores of vitamin B-12. Ask your
pediatrician if your baby needs supplements of this nutrient as
Finally, while the water supply in most U.S. cities
and towns is boosted with fluoride -- a chemical that can help teeth and nails
grow strong -- the levels can be low in certain rural areas. As your local
water company how many parts per million of fluoride is in your drinking water.
If the level is below 3 ppm, ask your pediatrician if your baby should take
fluoride supplements after 6 months of age. Under 6 months old, your baby
should not take fluoride supplements, even if levels are low in your water
As you probably already know, alcohol and pregnancy
are a dangerous mix. Surprisingly, however, the evidence is far less clear when
it comes to alcohol's effects during breastfeeding.
With studies on both sides of the fence -- some
showing it may increase the risk of problems, others failing to prove it --
it's not surprising that experts are divided on the subject.
As a result, breastfeeding moms should err on the side
of caution. Limit alcohol to one or two drinks occasionally, says Huotari.
"Until we know more, it's better to drink less," she says. Her advice is also
endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.