In order for breastfeeding to be a stress-free experience, a new mother needs to have a plentiful supply of milk. What’s more, this milk needs to be rich enough to ensure her baby is getting the best possible nourishment.
Tiredness, combined with an insufficiently balanced diet, may deplete a mother’s milk and make feeding problematic. In such cases, natural supplements can be invaluable in helping a new mum provide the maximum nutritional benefit to her baby.
Omega-3 are essential fatty acids known for their ability to regulate the body’s fat levels. One such omega-3 is DHA, recognized for improving cognitive function and visual acuity in breastfed babies (1).
Omega-3 are naturally present in oily fish, but new mothers can also obtain them direct from fish oil supplements (such as Super Omega 3 which has particularly good bioavailability). For optimal digestibility, they are best taken with food.
Iodine supplements can be recommended in cases of iodine deficiency. A lack of iodine poses a risk of hypothyroidism – insufficient production of hormones by the thyroid gland – which can potentially retard the baby’s growth and impair its nervous and mental function. It may even result in the baby having a lower than average IQ (2).
This hypothyroidism risk is easily addressed by taking an iodine supplement. Ideally, opt for a pure, natural product such as Natural Iodine.
Milk thistle is a wild plant rich in silymarin, a powerful flavonoid with multiple benefits for health. In particular, it plays a significant role in the liver and digestive system.
Traditionally, silymarin is also considered a ‘galactogen’. Herbalists believe it can stimulate lactation, boosting a mother’s milk supply. Note, however, that while studies have pointed to silymarin having such as a property (3), this has yet to be scientifically proven.
Silymarin is readily available as a nutritional supplement (for example Silyplus).
During pregnancy, women suffer a loss of bone density: they need more calcium once the baby is born. In addition, a young mother’s calcium levels may decrease during breastfeeding because significant amounts are passed to the baby via her breastmilk. Supplementing with calcium is therefore a sensible precaution (Calcium Orotate).
It’s also wise to take a vitamin D supplement (4) at the same time, such as Vitamin D3 5000 IU. Women who have just given birth are actually often deficient in vitamin D yet it’s important for ensuring effective absorption of calcium by bones.
Breastfeeding is a special time for a mother and her baby. A balanced diet, with a wide variety of healthy foods, will help optimise the experience. Carefully-chosen, natural supplements can also offer significant support to young mums in giving their babies the best possible start. Be sure, however, to check with your doctor before taking any medicine or supplement during pregnancy and breastfeeding.