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Breastfeeding has always been the perfect way for your baby to receive all the nutrition it needs and will continue to be so. The additional benefit of boosting immunity can be found only in the breastmilk antibodies. Certain doctors, however, suggest supplementing the mother’s diet with vitamin supplements to ensure the baby’s well-being. One may choose to continue with the same old prenatal vitamins taken during pregnancy, but those do not contain those supplements that are required after the baby’s delivery.
Why are Postnatal Vitamins Important while Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding mothers have nutritional needs that are not the same as other women. Although the nutrients that are present in the breast milk are present in the right quantities, they might be missing some essential vitamins and minerals. These are mostly Vitamin B and Vitamin D for breastfeeding mothers. Both of these are highly necessary for both the mother and the child. A number of diseases and health-related conditions can be mitigated simply by ensuring these vitamins are present in the optimal quantities.
What Essential Vitamins does a Breastfed Baby Need?
Here are the nutritional requirements of a baby who is still breastfeeding.
|Constituent||Quantity per day||Can be found in|
|Vitamin K||92 mcg||Spinach, broccoli, soybean oil, cabbage, cauliflower, grapes|
|Biotin||35 mcg||Eggs, cheese, fish, raspberries, and nearly all sorts of nuts|
|Vitamin E||20 mg||Sunflower oil, safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, avocado|
|Vitamin D||16 mcg||Fish rich in fats, egg, bread, vitamin D supplements|
|Vitamin C||130 mg||Potato, tomato, orange, kiwi, amla, guava|
|Folic acid||520 mcg||Lentils, beetroot, rice, milk, wheat, green leafy vegetables|
|Vitamin B6||3 mg||Fortified cereal, fish, plums, banana, carrot|
|Vitamin B5||8 mg||Pulses, cauliflower, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, cheese|
|Vitamin B3||18 mg||Chicken, sesame seeds, peanuts, milk, eggs|
|Vitamin B2||2 mg||Brown rice, almonds, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms|
|Vitamin B12||3 mcg||Many animal sources like meat, fish, eggs, etc.|
|Vitamin B1||1.5 mg||Brown rice, soy, egg, legumes, green peas, seed oils|
|Vitamin A||1500 mcg||Fish, liver, sweet potato, pumpkin, mangoes, apricots|
Health Benefits of Postnatal Vitamins
Postnatal vitamins offer several benefits to the mother and the baby.
1. Vitamin K
In the nomenclature of vitamins, the letter ‘K’ for this particular vitamin comes from its German name, which literally translated to “vitamin for coagulation”. This comes from its property to help with blood clotting and helping a wound recover. Apart from supporting the circulation in the body, vitamin K provides a boost to the health of the bones and their density.
Also known as Vitamin H, this is one of the core nutrients in the helping the growth of the body to proceed normally. The presence of the vitamin supports the function of metabolizing fats, amino acids, and other carbohydrates present in the body. The beautiful skin of a baby stays healthy due to this vitamin, as it also takes care of other skin conditions, too. It tends to keep the skin, nails, and hair all healthy at the same time.
3. Vitamin E
Supporting the healthy growth of the muscles and ensuring a good and coordinated movement is essential for a developing baby. Vitamin E helps quite a lot in this regard. On the other side, it works towards improving the immunity of the body, especially amongst the cells and boosts the production of red blood cells. These work in a combination to protect the body from external infections.
4. Vitamin D
The most important of them all. Vitamin D3 is produced within the body by the skin by the presence of sun’s rays. Vitamin D2 is synthesized from yeast and is also present in the supplementary drops for the kid. These together are used by the liver to generate the final vitamin D constituent.
Its direct impact is on the strengthening and development of bones, in order to make them stronger by boosting their mineralization, made possible by the supported absorption of minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
The secondary impact it has is on the immunity. Vitamin D not only helps fight external infections but also prevents autoimmunity from triggering in certain diseases.
Although the human body can produce vitamin D by itself and is present in breast milk as well, the quantity is insufficient for continued benefits. This necessitates consumption of vitamin D supplements or even food items like milk or cereals that are fortified with vitamin D.
5. Vitamin C
Many people recommend taking food items rich in Vitamin C or such supplements when recovering from an injury. This is because Vitamin C helps support the reparation of various cells in the body and bring about a speedy healing of any wounds. This is further complemented by providing a boost to the leukocyte production. Leukocytes are essentially white blood cells that are the body’s inbuilt army. These protect the body from external pathogens, especially the ones that could attack the wound.
Another important benefit that Vitamin C brings is the growth of skin and hair, too. All of the growth promoting properties are a result of it supporting the formation of the collagen protein essential for the same.
6. Folic Acid
Also known as vitamin B9, this is usually known for helping support the development of red blood cells and absorbing iron for the body. However, its important functions go way deeper.
Folic acid plays a vital role in the brain development of a baby and provides the necessary support it needs to expand its functioning. This is the crux of being able to perceive and process information in the early stages. Another key role is in building DNA and RNA within the body, to help the body grow at a faster rate.
7. Vitamin B6
Sleep is an essential component of the baby’s growth since most of the bodily processes of repairing and cell generation take place in deep sleep. Vitamin B6 helps regulate sleep cycles by streamlining the production of the hormone, melatonin.
It also plays a key role in neural development since it contains pyridoxine that brings about an enhanced development of the brain and spinal cord. In order to make sure that the reflexes of the child are up to the mark, this vitamin should be included in the diet. It helps build neurotransmitters within the body, assisting the neurons to transmit electric signals amongst each other.
8. Vitamin B5
Most people that undergo surgery are prescribed vitamin B5 supplements, purely due to their ability to help speed up the healing process of the wounds. They contain pantothenic acid which not only supports the health of internal body organs but increases the vitality of red blood corpuscles.
This is one of those vitamins that help the digestive systems absorb other vitamins successfully, making it the support system of them all.
9. Vitamin B3
In case of the body suffering from any kind of disease or infection, as well as inflammations, vitamin B3 is your go-to supplement. The presence of niacin helps improve the health of the adrenal gland, which keeps any stress-related hormones within the body in check. This keeps the nervous system healthy biologically and maintains a stable mental health, too.
10. Vitamin B2
All doctors tend to recommend vitamin B2 supplements at the first signs of anaemia. Riboflavin, which is also another name for this vitamin, is the element that helps absorb iron within the body as well as boost the development of red blood cells. This ends up reducing any signs of anaemia as it brings back the haemoglobin levels in the child’s body to normalcy.
Protection of the cell structure is key in successfully carrying haemoglobin with iron to the body. This is supported by the antioxidant nature of the vitamin that reduces the damages sustained by a cell and keeps its health intact.
11. Vitamin B12
Going back to the building blocks of the body, cobalamin or vitamin B12 affect the very genetic nature of the child. These are important in making sure your child grows in the right manner. DNA and RNA are proteins after all, and these need elemental support, too. Vitamin B12 goes one step ahead and brings about the growth of new nerve cells. These help in enhancing the cognitive growth of the child and make him smart.
12. Vitamin B1
This entire family of B-complex vitamins are collectively responsible for developing the neurons necessary for brain development and the sustained enhancement of memory and cognition, and vitamin B1 is no exception. Termed as thiamine, it helps in generating ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, which is the very source of energy for bodily cells. This helps in stimulating the metabolic processes that are necessary for the body to turn to an optimal state.
13. Vitamin A
One of the most versatile vitamins of all time, its primary function is associated with the development of sight, especially in the perception of colour and building up the capacity to see at night. Furthermore, it helps build up the basic blocks of the immune system and directly affect the tissue development of skin and hair as well, going for an all-around healthy growth of the child.
Here are some common questions asked about postnatal vitamins.
1. Can I take Prenatal Vitamin while Breastfeeding?
Most of the time consuming prenatal vitamins isn’t harmful. Though the usual function of these vitamins is to help the body cope with the demand of the baby’s growth, these may be useful in providing certain vitamin supplements in the early stages post-delivery. Such prenatal vitamins are useful only until the first month or so after the delivery since the mother’s body starts changing after that.
2. Should I take Vitamins for Hair, Skin and Nail during Breastfeeding?
One thing that needs to be remembered by all breastfeeding mothers is that your child feeds on what you feed yourself. Many multivitamins meant for the hair and skin tend to contain compounds of biotin. These, when passed on to your baby directly, can deem quite harmful for his health. Therefore, such supplements are best avoided.
3. Should I take Postnatal Multivitamin while Breastfeeding?
Most of the times, such postnatal supplements are not necessary if you adhere to the strict dietary constituents meant to provide you and your baby the complete nutritive value. Any postnatal vitamins should be consumed only after obtaining a go-ahead from your doctor.
A post-partum diet can be quite different from the pregnancy diet since each stage of the baby’s development requires demands of specific growth. The best vitamins for breastfeeding moms end up being the best ones for the baby too. These together should form the diet structure of the mother and help the baby grow in a natural way as far as possible.
Also Read: Foods to Eat After Delivery