Family doctors used to recommend calcium supplements to breastfeeding mothers, and some still do. But the link between magnesium and breastfeeding is just as important to understand.
Simply popping a calcium supplement could do more harm than good if you’re not also getting enough magnesium. Find out how these minerals influence milk production, new mom’s health, and more.
Breastfeeding Increases a Mother’s Magnesium Needs
Breastfeeding mothers have higher magnesium needs.
To produce breastmilk with the perfect balance of nutrients, our bodies take what they need from our own reserves. Before your baby is deficient in any nutrient, you’ll experience the deficiency yourself if you’re breastfeeding. The body prioritizes the task of producing healthy milk.
To nourish both your baby and yourself you should be eating a wide range of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. However, it’s not always easy or possible. For a variety of reasons, your diet postpartum might not be adequate to meet your nutritional needs.
You may be too tired to shop and prepare healthy foods. If this is the case, remember that your health is so important now and always. Please ask loved ones for the help you need. Neglecting yourself can lead to postpartum depression, which is an experience we want you to avoid.
If you are having difficulty affording food, please reach out to one of Canada’s food banks.
Even if you are eating relatively well, it can be hard to get enough magnesium at the best of times. Most North Americans are somewhat low or deficient in magnesium.
We’ll discuss the broader health benefits of magnesium for new moms below. But first, let’s talk about magnesium for milk supply.
Calcium, Magnesium and Breastfeeding Milk Supply
Some breastfeeding women experience a lower milk supply for the second part of their cycle. At this time in the cycle, blood calcium levels are reduced, and for some women, it’s that blood calcium reduction that leads to a decreased milk supply.
For these moms, it’s best to take calcium and magnesium supplements, so that both are absorbed to their full potential. Magnesium and calcium are interdependent, and low magnesium can lead to low calcium.
Since most people get more calcium in their diets than magnesium, Natural Calm Plus Calcium cal-mag formula delivers 1/3 more magnesium than calcium.
How Much Magnesium Should You Take While Breastfeeding? Calcium?
Dr. Carolyn Dean, a leading expert on magnesium, recommends 3 – 4 mg of magnesium per pound of bodyweight for adults, as a minimum. A woman of average weight may easily need 450 mg of magnesium daily.
So, how much calcium should you get if you’re also taking magnesium?
Some healthcare practitioners recommend more calcium than magnesium, but the right balance largely depends on your personal diet and which mineral you get more of every day.
You can also look at symptoms. If you are taking too much calcium, you may experience more leg cramping, tension, constipation, and even anxiety. In that case, reduce your calcium and increase your magnesium, in consultation with your doctor if you are under postpartum medical care.
“After giving birth for the first time, I visited a local family doctor for the baby’s checkup, and was suprised that she recommended eight glasses of milk a day during breastfeeding! I already knew at the time about the risks of too much calcium, so I ignored the advice and kept taking my Natural Calm while eating a plant-based, dairy-free diet.
Both my baby and I thrived! My sleep, pain, stress, and weight loss were all remarkable, while my son grew at an astonishing rate.” — Natural Calm customer
Calcium, Magnesium, and Infant Formula
If you are transitioning your baby from breastmilk to formula, keep magnesium and calcium balance in mind.
Infant formula does not contain the same ratio of minerals as mother’s breastmilk. Many infant formulas may be too high in calcium relative to magnesium.
Dr. Carolyn Dean, In her book, The Magnesium Miracle, states that one of the causative factors in SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, is an imbalance of too much calcium and not enough magnesium. At least two studies have suggested a link between low magnesium and SIDS, as referenced in this review of infant formulas.
This is just one theory on the causes of SIDS, and remember that SIDS is rare.
However, if possible, look for a formula that delivers balanced levels of magnesium and calcium or ask a natural health practitioner how you can achieve that balance for your infant.
With enough magnesium, your infant is likely going to be calmer and easier to get to sleep, as well, so there are multiple benefits.
Magnesium for Healthy Pregnancy, Delivery & Postpartum Health
If you haven’t yet given birth, know that magnesium is important for all aspects of women’s reproductive health, before, during and after pregnancy.
Your magnesium needs will increase during pregnancy as you nourish your baby to be, so make sure you are getting enough through diet and supplementation.
Magnesium helps to prevent issues during pregnancy and delivery such as toxemia, high blood pressure, seizures and the potential of cerebral palsy during the labour process. High blood pressure can lead to pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, a serious condition that often leads to emergency deliveries.
Magnesium during pregnancy can also help you to sleep better, which can be difficult in the final trimester. During the post-partum months, as well, it’s important for new mothers to be able to fall asleep and move into a deep state of REM quickly. When your sleep is frequently interrupted, magnesium can help.
Women who experience issues with regularity in pregnancy will also appreciate the natural laxative effects of a magnesium supplement.
We hear from many happy Natural Calm customers who have relied on our magnesium to make it through pregnancy and post-partum. Take Candice M., for example, who wrote in to tell us:
“Natural Calm was an essential part of getting through pregnancy. Honestly, a life saver.”
Are Magnesium Supplements Safe to Take While Breastfeeding?
We can’t speak in the place of your doctor or naturopath, however, we can say that in the vast majority of cases, Natural Calm Magnesium is absolutely safe and beneficial to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
That said, we always recommend consulting an MD or ND if you are unsure or are taking medications.
Natural Calm customers write in to tell us often that our magnesium citrate supplements helped them tremendously during pregnancy and postpartum. We think it’s because Natural Calm tastes so great and absorbs so fast, you can really feel the difference!
How much magnesium is safe while breastfeeding?
There is no scientific evidence that suggests a dose of magnesium to be harmful for nursing mothers and their babies. However, women who suffer from kidney disease should not take magnesium supplements without consulting a doctor first. The tolerable upper intake level for adults is 350 milligrams per day. It is suggested that breastfeeding women limit themselves to a total dosage of 310 milligrams daily as a precautionary measure.
What supplements to avoid while breastfeeding?
Any heavily-processed supplement is likely to be laced with toxins and chemicals which can pass through the placenta and affect the unborn child. Additionally, some supplements may elicit an allergic reaction in nursing women or their infants. It is best to consult a doctor for advice before taking any type of nutritional supplement during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Can I take calcium and magnesium while breastfeeding?
Calcium and magnesium are both found in mineral water, milk and certain plants. They do not interact with each other or cause any adverse reactions when taken at normal dosages. However, supplements containing calcium and magnesium should be avoided due to the possibility of overdose.
Is magnesium good for postpartum?
Magnesium is essential for the synthesis of DNA and RNA, the production of energy in cells, nerve conduction, muscle relaxation and electrolyte balance. For this reason, many doctors recommend that women take magnesium supplements after giving birth to help their bodies recuperate properly. What’s more postnatal supplementation with magnesium may reduce depression and stress.