☝🏼One of the most common nutritional deficiencies among women worldwide is iron deficiency, leading to anemia. Some research has shown that only 20% of women enter pregnancy with adequate iron stores😱, which are further depleted during pregnancy… and are even further depleted after birth from blood loss that occurred during labour. After labour, a woman continues to lose blood (thus, loses iron) through normal postpartum bleeding called lochia, which continues weeks after the delivery of her baby.
Symptoms of low iron include:
❇️Fatigue & shortness of breath
❇️Headaches & dizziness
Does low maternal iron levels impact your breastfed baby?🤷🏻♀️ I always ask my pregnant patients for an updated iron assessment in the third trimester. This is because the amount of iron in breastmilk is linked to the amount of iron that was stored during the third trimester of pregnancy. Even though breastmilk has low iron overall, the amount and type of iron that is available in breast milk is easily absorbed, effectively assimilated and gentle to baby’s tummy. .
Does my newborn baby need an iron supplement? Talk to your healthcare provider about these questions:
1️⃣What was mama’s iron stores like during pregnancy?
2️⃣Was your baby born preterm?
3️⃣Did you have delayed cord clamping at birth?
4️⃣What does your prenatal and breastfeeding diet consist of?
The iron present in breast milk has a ~50-70% absorption rate and is very gentle on baby’s tummy, whereas the iron found in cow’s dairy or fortified infant cereal only has around a 10% absorption rate and can irritate the intestinal lining of baby. 👩🏻💻A study conducted in the Journal of Pediatrics found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for 7 months had significantly higher iron levels compared to babies who were given fortified iron products. Researchers found no cases of anemia in these breastfed babies when tested at their 1 year birthday.
If you are pregnant, beginning your preconception journey or curious to know if your postpartum diet is meeting all of your iron needs, let's chat. 🤓👍🏼