Calcium and Breastfeeding
Since pregnancy weakens the bones, it is important for breastfeeding women to consume enough calcium. Breastfeeding women do not need more calcium than the average person, but it is important for them to take the recommended Adequate Intake (AI). Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to figure out how much calcium you need each day.
It is important for breastfeeding women to get enough calcium. Not only does adequate calcium help to strengthen a baby's bones, it also helps to prevent weakening of the mom's bones as well. Pregnancy weakens the bones (due to the calcium demands of the developing fetus). This is why it is especially important to get plenty of calcium after pregnancy (whether you are breastfeeding or not), in order to help your bones recover from the pregnancy.
Breastfeeding women can meet their daily calcium requirement either through calcium-rich foods or through calcium supplements.
Most women have a fairly good idea about whether they consume enough calcium or not. Are you one of those women who practically lives on milk, cheese, and other dairy? Or do you struggle to choke down even a small glass of milk? Either way, you probably know whether you are likely to be deficient of not.
The recommended Adequate Intake (AI) of calcium for breastfeeding women is 1000 mg per day (or 1300 mg per day, for women 18 years or younger). This is exactly the same amount recommended for all other people (including pregnant women) of the same age. Many women easily get enough calcium through a healthy and well-rounded diet. However, many women will need to take calcium supplements, especially if they do not consume much dairy.
Keep in mind that prenatal vitamins or multivitamins do not contain much calcium. Calcium is a bulky mineral, and adding a large dose of calcium to a prenatal vitamin would make the tablets too large to swallow.