The initial days of parenthood are the best days of your life! You'll make a ton of memories, experience new emotions, and simply bask in pure love. Yet, these might not be the days you'll be at your best. Sleepless nights, fluctuating hormones, continuous crying, and dirty diapers will be a routine. Not to miss the ultimate feeding frenzy! While ensuring that your baby gets its meals on time, you might skip many. And if you miss out on your nutrition, so will your baby - a common case with DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid, which only a handful of mothers seem to get right. So when following a healthy diet seems like a challenge, DHA supplementation while breastfeeding may work its magic!

 

Should You Take DHA Supplements If You Are Breastfeeding?


A big, big YES. Taking DHA supplements while you are breastfeeding is completely safe for you and your baby. In fact, it can help new moms like you achieve optimal DHA levels in a short period of time. Let’s understand how!

 

What Is DHA? And Why Is It Important?


DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an essential long-chain polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acid that constitutes a big part of your baby’s brain, skin, and retina.

And when we say ‘essential,’ we mean that it can’t be synthesized by our bodies naturally! Therefore, expecting or new moms should constantly replenish their DHA stores through dietary sources like salmon, tuna, oysters, and other types of seafood.2

 

The Need For DHA Supplements While Breastfeeding


The mother's breast milk is a good source of DHA for the growing baby. However, the amount of DHA in breast milk depends strictly on what the mom is eating. Fish and certain types of seafood are the only dietary sources known and available to us that are naturally rich in DHA.3 

But what about vegetarian or vegan moms? Or, what to do when your taste buds suddenly repulse the ‘fishy’ taste? 

That's where supplements start to make great sense! New moms can opt between plant-based algal supplements or fish oil supplements to meet their daily DHA (200mg/day) requirements.3  Studies highlight that regular algal or fish oil DHA supplementation can yield positive results for lactating women and their infants. It reduces the chances of post-delivery depression for new mothers and promotes healthy brain development in infants. 4, 5

But this doesn't mean that DHA supplements are not useful to fish-eating moms! The recommended intake of fish for lactating women is around 8 to 12 ounces per week.3 So, to maintain optimum DHA levels, you should be eating at least 2 to 3 servings of fish every week. But most women will fall short of this goal due to one common reason - high and toxic levels of mercury. Longer-living predators like Swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish contain mercury and dioxin in high amounts.6 This leaves the new mom with a few safe options like shrimp, pollock, sardines, salmon, or trout.2

 

So irrespective of what you eat or don't eat, DHA supplements will be a big help for you and your baby!

 

DHA Supplementation For The Breastfeeding Mother

 

As per a recent study, a woman can see a 50% decline in her plasma DHA levels after each pregnancy. And most of our new moms can never get back to having normal DHA levels even after 6 to 7 months of giving birth!7 The low DHA levels in a new mom's body affect the DHA supply in her breast milk, interfering with her baby's growth & development. Not just that, a new mom can expect to face some issues herself!

 

 

A study has linked low levels of DHA in new mothers with the risk of developing a major depressive disorder. Nearly 10 - 20% of lactating women experience depression before and after they give birth, which affects the cognitive & behavioral development of the baby.8 Therefore, a new and lactating mom must take DHA supplements that support her as well as her baby's health.

DHA Supplementation For The Breastfed Child


DHA has a vital role to play in all stages of pregnancy, especially when it comes to your baby's health as well as its overall development. Right from the 3rd trimester, DHA starts accumulating inside your baby's brain and fuels its fast-paced growth. During this time, the brain continues to expand in size and establishes an extensive neural network. This process goes on till your baby turns 2!2,9

DHA also helps infants to learn new things and process thoughts & emotions by maintaining brain plasticity (The ability to change structure & function).10 Furthermore, it promotes better cognitive growth, higher IQ levels, increased mental adaptability, and lower risk of cognitive diseases in children. 11, 12, 13

 

Check If Your Omega-3 DHA Supplements Are Working?


While DHA supplementation during breastfeeding is a great way to go, new moms should also know whether they are working or not. LifeCell is here to help you track your DHA levels with its advanced OmegaScore N test right from the comfort of your home! With just a few drops of breast milk, our safe & non-invasive postnatal test delivers deep insights into your health. On the other hand, OmegaScore N test measures the amount of DHA in breast milk against a target recommended level. It helps lactating mothers like you understand if their diet contains the required amount of DHA and if that dietary DHA is getting assimilated in your breast milk or not. The derived results can allow you to personalize your diets as per your doctor's recommendation & safely change your DHA levels in just 4 weeks. For more information on OmegaScore N, call us at 1800 266 5533 now.

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3262608/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6090734/ 
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/ 
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259433059_Algal-oil_supplements_are_a_viable_alternative_to_fish-oil_supplements_in_terms_of_docosahexaenoic_acid_226n-3_DHA 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7757974/ 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046737/ 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989696/ 
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046737/ 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4728620/ 
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772061/ 
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772061/ 
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23783296/ 
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28651697/ 

References