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Health & Baby

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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 Breastfeeding? continued...

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 well.

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 supply.

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.

If you do decide to have a drink now and again, have it right after you finish nursing, at least two hours before it's time to nurse again. Two hours is the least amount of time it takes to eliminate alcohol from the body.

If you do try nursing while alcohol is active in your system, don't be surprised if you have difficulty "letting down" (getting the milk to flow easily). One now-classic study published in 1992 reported that alcohol inhibits the production of oxytocin, a hormone that encourages the flow of breast milk.

Nursing with alcohol in your body might also cause your newborn to shy away from feeding. Huotari sites studies showing the scent of alcohol can be detected in breast milk and might turn baby away from your body.

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