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6 Things Your Lactation Consultant Wants You To Know About Supplements

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Whether you’re looking to improve the quality of your breast milk or boost your supply, you might turn to supplements for the solution. At the same time, you might have a tough time finding reliable info about the safety of vitamins, herbs and the like for breastfeeding moms. Which is why there are things your lactation consultant wants you to know about supplements, for both you and your baby's sake.

There’s a reason why breast milk gets to claim the title of “nature’s perfect food.” It contains all the nutritional elements that your growing baby needs, and has the ability to adapt and change as your child gets older. Pretty incredible, right? If you have a well-balanced diet, then your breast milk should also contain all the necessary nutrients for your baby, according to the La Leche League. So, in theory, you wouldn’t necessarily need supplements unless you’re experiencing a deficiency somewhere in your diet. That said, there are women who swear that certain supplements help them in some way, whether it's a boost in milk supply or even energy.

So if you insist on supplementing, there are some things you need to know. Read on to find out how taking dietary supplements can affect your diet and your baby’s health, and if they're ultimately worth taking.

1. You Might Be Better Off With Prenatal Vitamins

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If you thought that you were past popping a daily prenatal vitamin once you gave birth, think again. You can continue taking prenatals well into your postpartum days. “I definitely recommend that moms continue their prenatal vitamins while they are breastfeeding,” Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant, tells Romper. So if you still have some leftover vitamins, you can always use those for health benefits that both you and baby can reap.

2. It’s Possible To Overdo It

While vitamins, for the most part, can do a body good, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing. “Fat soluble vitamins, like Vitamins A and E, can concentrate in human milk,” Jadah Parks Chatterjee, BS, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant, tells Romper. “And excessive amounts can be harmful to the baby.” That’s why you should never take more than the intended dosage of any vitamin or supplement.

3. It Might Make Your Baby Miserable

Taking a supplement might give your baby a little boost, but it could also bring on something else: colic. In fact, supplements have been found to make some babies cranky, La Leche League reported. So if you are supplementing (and your little one is fussy), speak to your pediatrician to see if supplementation could be the cause.

4. Natural Isn’t Always Better

Even though supplements might be touted as natural, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be safe for you to swallow on a daily basis. “Despite being natural, you’ll still need to check with your physician,” Darcy Sauers, CLC, DONA, a certified postpartum doula, tells Romper. “You want to make sure that they will not interfere with your health and/or other medications.”

5. They Might Not Help

Despite your best efforts to provide your baby with an overabundance of breast milk, you may discover that it’s all for naught, especially if you’re looking to boost your breast milk production. “There's not much evidence-based research that supplements will help increase milk supply,” says Sauers. If you’re concerned about how much milk you’re making, speak with a lactation consultant or your child’s pediatrician. Chances are, if your baby is gaining weight and growing, your output is probably perfect.

6. They’re Regulated — But That Doesn’t Make Them Safe

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The U.S. Food & Drug Administration does regulate dietary supplements, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should take them. “Dietary supplements can vary widely from brand to brand,” says Sauers. “So strength and dosages can also be very different.” That’s why you should consult your OB, a lactation consultant, or even an herbalist to ensure the safety of the supplements you’re taking.

Taking supplements postpartum can be a sticky situation. Speak with a medical professional ahead of time so that you know that your breast milk (and your baby) will be safe.

Experts:

Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant

Jadah Parks Chatterjee, BS, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant

Darcy Sauers, CLC, DONA, a certified postpartum doula