Which Vitamins Should You Take After Having a Baby?

Woman with green apple breastfeeding her baby
Breastfeeding mothers need an adequate supply of vitamin D. (Image: Valua Vitaly/iStock/Getty Images)

For the 40 weeks you carry a child, you're constantly concerned about whether the nutrients you're putting into your body are giving your baby what he needs. After you deliver your baby, you shouldn't stop thinking about it -- your body needs the right vitamins to help heal itself. Moms who are breastfeeding also need to continue to take their baby's nutritional needs into consideration.

Continue Folic Acid

Folic acid, also known as folate, is one of the top vitamins a pregnant woman needs. A B vitamin, it helps prevent spina bifida and other disabilities in her baby. When the baby is delivered, you should continue to take folic acid, says WomensHealth.gov, and you should aim for around 500 micrograms a day. Folic acid also plays a role in the health of your blood, along with your heart health.

Vitamin D and Breastfeeding

Your infant needs vitamin D, which he can only get through a combination of your breast milk and sun exposure. However, sun exposure can be risky for everyone because of potential skin damage, so you should take care to consume an adequate amount of vitamin D. A study published in 2004 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" determined that the standard recommendation of 400 International Units per day is not sufficient for nursing mothers. Instead, researchers recommend a maternal intake of 2,000 to 4,000 IUs per day to improve the vitamin D levels of both mother and child.

Replenish Iron With the Help of Vitamin C

Although iron is a mineral, it's a significant nutrient that you need to replenish after delivery, as the loss of blood during the birth process likely depleted your stores. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption, so you should take this vitamin at the same time as you eat foods high in iron or take a supplement. Your body best absorbs the iron that comes from animal tissue, such as meat, fish and poultry, versus plant-based sources. Pair it with foods such as citrus, strawberries, bell peppers, kale or broccoli, all of which are high in vitamin C. The UCSF Medical Center says that nursing mothers need 120 milligrams of vitamin C a day. Take only up to 45 milligrams of iron a day unless your doctor tells you otherwise; this is the amount that's safe for breast-feeding women, says Medline Plus.

Food Versus Supplements

Ideally, you'll consume your vitamins from foods rather than supplements, says Sutter Health. If you eat a varied diet with foods from all the food groups, you probably don't need a multivitamin any more. However, you can continue to take your prenatal vitamins for up to six week after birth, although you should check with your doctor. Prenatal vitamins might have too much iron, leaving you feeling constipated or with an upset stomach. In that case, you can switch to a general multivitamin.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.