6 Myths and Facts To Know About Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Many first-time moms can attest to the infinite number of questions they have during pregnancy—and the wide variety of answers they receive, depending on who they ask. Below we address some common myths and facts that can help inform your discussions with a trusted physician and nutritionist.
“A prenatal vitamin has all the nutrients you need during pregnancy.”
We wish that were the case. The truth is that nutrients like vitamin D, choline, and DHA can often be lacking or nonexistent in many prenatal vitamins. Learn more about nutrients your prenatal may be lacking.
“Omega-3s can help optimize pregnancy after 35.”
Absolutely! Research suggests that omega-3s can help women maintain a healthy pregnancy into their 40s. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Taking omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, can help optimize pregnancy outcomes (i.e., birthweight, length of pregnancy, etc.)
- Emerging evidence indicates that omega-3s can increase your chances of maintaining a viable pregnancy.
“Supplementing with vitamin D during pregnancy is not that big of a deal.”
Nonsense! Vitamin D is critical for babies and moms during pregnancy (and after). Keep in mind that:
- An average of 33% of pregnant women in the U.S. are deficient in vitamin D (and rates are much higher for women of color).
- Vitamin D supplementation can increase your chances of healthy pregnancy and birth outcomes.
- 4000 IU/day of vitamin D can safely and effectively support a healthy pregnancy.
So, don’t take vitamin D supplementation lightly. Learn more about the importance of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.
“Pregnant women can benefit from vitamin D, especially women of color.”
That’s right. Vitamin D is important for all women, but especially for those with darker skin pigmentation for whom the risk of deficiency is higher. Since vitamin D provides critical support for a healthy pregnancy, this means that women of color are at higher risk of certain pregnancy complications. Luckily, taking a daily dose of 4000 IU can safely and effectively increase vitamin D blood levels. Learn more about the importance of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.
“Breastmilk naturally has all the nutrients a baby needs.”
Not exactly. What’s in your breastmilk depends upon what’s in your diet and what your body has stored up. For some nutrients, the levels in your breastmilk reflect the nutrients in your diet, like fat-soluble and some B vitamins and vitamin D. This means that if your diet isn’t providing these nutrients, then your baby isn’t getting them either.
For other nutrients, the levels in your breastmilk are not directly reflected by your diet, like B vitamin folate, calcium, iron, and zinc. So, these nutrients will be present in your breastmilk even if they aren’t in your diet because they get extracted from different parts of the body. Learn more about what you should eat while breastfeeding.
“I can eat whatever I want when breastfeeding because I’m burning more calories.”
We can dream. Yes, it’s true you burn more calories while breastfeeding. Experts estimate that women need an additional 500 calories per day to cover the energy they burn during lactation (and even more if nursing twins). But does this mean you should eat 500 extra calories in pastries every morning? Not exactly. Instead, try to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods that provide the most nutrition for the least number of calories (and no the apple pastry filling doesn’t count, but nice try). Learn more about what you should eat while breastfeeding.