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Breastfeeding is very good for the mother and their babies. But some mothers may stress over not getting sufficient nutrients to pass on to their babies. One such important nutrient is iron. Iron provides oxygen to the cells and promotes healthy brain function. Knowing whether a normal diet can supply enough iron or supplements are needed can help a new breastfeeding mom get off to a good start.

Importance of Iron

Iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, which cycles oxygen through your blood to your body’s cells. If you don’t have enough iron, the red blood cell won’t be able to carry the required amount of oxygen to the vital organs and muscles. Iron is an important element for brain development and function. Moreover, the neurotransmitters responsible for message carrying between nerves also need an adequate amount of iron to function properly.

Iron Needs for Babies and Mothers

The amount of iron your body needs varies greatly throughout life. For example, a baby receives and stores enough iron from his mother to last at least six months. After six months, the amount of iron starts to drop. A woman loses a high amount of blood during childbirth, and more for five to six weeks afterward. A woman who breastfeeds exclusively usually doesn’t menstruate, so she doesn’t lose blood and doesn’t need as much iron.

Iron Supplements for Breastfed Babies

Breastfed babies have no such need for iron supplements; this is because human milk contains a small amount of iron, but it is very well absorbed. Starting iron supplements, especially during a baby’s first six months, can decrease the effectiveness of the baby’s natural iron absorption.

Iron supplements for Breastfeeding Women

You will not need iron supplements if you eat a healthy and balanced diet. Add fruit and vegetables, calcium-rich dairy products, cereals and whole-grain bread, protein-rich foods such as meats and fish to get a healthy amount of essential nutrients.

If you have any questions, book an appointment with Family Diagnostic Clinic. Give us a call at 281-351-6800.

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