Breastfeeding is widely accepted as the most complete form of nutrition for infants, providing a wide range of benefits for better growth and development. Breast-fed children are also more resistant to disease and infection early in life than children who are formula-fed.
A woman’s body usually produces quality breast milk in abundance immediately after giving birth––regardless of diet…and even in famine conditions. Therefore, if you are looking to breastfeed, you certainly do not need to maintain a perfect diet. However, improving your eating habits while pregnant or breastfeeding could help improve not only your health but also the health of your baby.
A key nutrient to consider for healthier breast milk is DHA––an essential omega-3 fatty acid that is critical for proper brain and nervous system development in babies.
While tests have long been available to check blood-level DHA, scientists in the United Kingdom have recently created a new test where breastfeeding women can provide a sample of their actual breast milk for analysis. A detailed report is then provided that outlines the omega 3 and DHA content of the milk along with specific recommendations for improving their levels. The development and availability of this test underscores the importance of ensuring that moms are providing their babies the correct balance of essential nutrients.
If you are looking to pass on higher levels of DHA to your baby, adjusting your diet to include omega-3-rich foods such as fish, flaxseed, and certain green vegetables may be a good idea. However, it is important to note that experts strongly suggest that pregnant and nursing mothers avoid certain types of fish that may be high in mercury. This includes shark, swordfish, and king mackeral. That’s why a clean-sourced omega-3 supplement like Omega XL may be a good option for women looking to increase DHA consumption while pregnant or nursing.