Breastmilk = Perfect?
Updated: Sep 30, 2019
We always hear that breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby---and it is! However, if a woman is deficient in a nutrient and therefore has depleted stores within her body, she will not be able to provide it in her breastmilk. So we must note that breastmilk is conditionally perfect...
It is important to understand that if a woman is deficient in a micronutrient (vitamin/mineral) prior to breastfeeding--- this deficiency will carry through to her breastmilk. It should also be noted that if a deficiency arises during pregnancy, this deficiency can (and most likely will) also affect future lactation and breastfeeding. For this reason, the mother is unable to provide her baby what she does not already have.
Again, breastmilk is the gold standard in regards to infant nutrition. However, we cannot overlook the mother's need for vitamins and minerals/balanced nutrition when producing breastmilk.
There are a few common deficiencies found in breastmilk (and mothers) all around the world. These include; Vitamin D, Iodine, Iron, and Vitamin K.
Additional nutrient deficiencies found in breastmilk (as well as mothers) have been documented in resource-poor countries. These include; Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Vitamin B1 (Thiamin).
Due to these deficiencies, it is becoming increasingly more important to provide mothers with adequate nutrition throughout their pregnancy and postpartum. Not only is their health directly affected, but more importantly, the health of their baby.
In regards to the new beautiful baby's nutrition; adequate intakes of Vitamin D can be achieved through sun exposure or through supplementation (in the form of Vitamin D3). Your baby should receive a Vitamin K shot at birth to prevent a (Vitamin K) deficiency bleed. In regards to Iron, your baby should have enough Iron stored within their body to last them until the nutritional incorporation of solid foods. However, if the mother does not have Iron stores or high Iron intakes during pregnancy, the baby will not have enough Iron stored to last them through the exclusive breastfeeding period.
In conclusion, the above information supports the need for balanced nutrition during pregnancy and postpartum/lactation in all mothers. But where do we come in? Our job at Mamas Maternal Health is to help you succeed in your nutritional needs by providing maternal counseling in meal preparation, vitamins/minerals during pregnancy, and lactation needs! So---we hope you will invite us to do so here.
Until next time!
Cassie and Mikayla
Mamas Maternal Health Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
Reference: Miriam Eric (2018)., Breastmilk is conditionally perfect, Medical Hypothesis, volume 111, pages 82-89., https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987717306497?via%3Dihub
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