One day in your mom-journey, you look at yourself in the mirror and discover that eyebags are suddenly your least bothersome feature. The thinning hair, dry skin, and stretch marks also stare back at you. That’s okay, that’s normal, you might say. Aren’t there any vitamins to revert these? But then again, you realized you are breastfeeding. So, can you take hair, skin, and nail vitamins while breastfeeding?
Hair loss, brittle nails, and dry skin are undoubtedly a common dilemma that moms face after childbirth. To alleviate these conditions, you may hear about biotin supplements. Biotin is a B-vitamin that promotes hair, nail, and skin health. Indeed, it is one of the vitamins that you need to supply your post-partum body with. However, since vitamins are leached in breastmilk to babies, an excessive amount is also harmful to your little one. Before taking any vitamin supplement, always ask for your doctor’s advice. Your dosage is slightly different if you are pregnant or nursing.
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Postpartum body changes
After birth, moms are often touted with several changes as their body slowly returns to normal. During pregnancy, your body increases its blood volume to support fetal development. Around that time, you would have thicker hair and glowing skin.
But about three months after childbirth, the hormone levels drop. You will find that your nails become brittle and your skin a little drier. It will also pick up the nine-month delay when you were supposed to lose hair but didn’t. And thus, you will shed it out all at once.
Loose and saggy skin is also a common nuisance. It usually happens due to all those weights you have packed during pregnancy. That’s why some women may turn to biotin and collagen supplements to improve their skin and hair condition.
What are hair, skin, and nail vitamins?
Biotin or vitamin B7 plays a vital part in the body by metabolizing fatty acids. This action influences cell growth that stimulates hair and skin growth. There is limited research on its use in healthy people, so it is not very conclusive. However, some evidence shows that biotin supplement does improve hair and skin conditions. Some people may take collagen, along with biotin, to further improve their skin and hair.
Our gut bacteria produce biotin in a small amount. You can also find it in nuts, egg yolks, sardines, bananas, whole grains, and mushrooms, among others. Normally, it is rare for a person to be biotin-deficient. However, during pregnancy, a woman’s body may experience a slight slack in biotin production. This would go on a few months after childbirth while lactating.
Like Vitamin C, biotin is also water-soluble. It means that it does not stay so long in the body and needs daily replenishment. Other hair, nail, and skin supplements include a combination of biotin, Vitamin A, C, and E, or fish oil.
Taking vitamin supplements while breastfeeding
There are certain do’s and don’ts that moms adhere to after delivery, especially for those who undergo C-sections. If you are breastfeeding, there are certainly a lot of things you are wary of doing.
Biotin and other food supplements are likely safe for breastfeeding mothers to take. However, the doctor will rule out the safe dosage to prevent adverse effects on your baby. Everything that you take will seep into your breastmilk. In fact, a biotin supplement may even alter the taste of your breastmilk. That’s why before taking anything, it is always best to consult your doctor.
Natural sources of hair, nail, and skin vitamins
The good news is, there’s no need to reach for a biotin supplement and jump with the risk for your baby. Loading up on a healthy diet can give moms a better chance at reverting post-partum hair loss (or alopecia) and skin problems.
Mommies should note that the best source of vitamins and minerals is still from dietary sources. A variety of healthy foods contain everything that both you and your breastfeeding baby need. You just have to watch out for food allergies that your baby may contract from it. Unless you have a certain vitamin deficiency, supplements are not really necessary.
Here are some biotin-rich diets according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Organ meat like liver
- Seeds and nuts
- Vegetables like sweet potato
- Whole-grain foods
Every mom struggles with the transition after child delivery. The first couple of weeks are very daunting and often tear-inducing. Yet you need to stay strong for both you and your baby. Getting back to your old self is a baby-step process. But don’t worry mom, you’ll get back to that old life in no time!
Aside from proper nutrition, here are some ways you can do to help yourself:
Drinking plenty of water is a must – lactating or not – for improving overall health. Breastmilk is made up of about 90% water. To increase breast milk production, breastfeeding moms need to keep themselves well-hydrated at all times. So, make sure you keep a bottle of water handy all the time so that you can drink whenever possible.
Do not skimp on your 8 to 10 glasses of recommended daily intake, and maybe add a little extra. For example, foods with high-water contents are also beneficial in supporting hydration.
Get plenty of rest
Rest is a debatable and uncommon word in a mother’s vocabulary. However, helping your body get through the whole ordeal of hormonal change is also a must. Sleep whenever you can, and get some more rest while your baby naps.
It can do so much in improving your health and helping your skin and scalp recover quickly.
Contrary to the common notion that breastfeeding causes hair loss in moms, this idea is but a myth. Breastfeeding or not, you are not exempted from post-pregnancy hormonal changes. Breastfeeding does not only provide all the goodness and nourishment for your baby.
It further releases oxytocin to make you and your baby bond better. It also helps you feel good about yourself. Besides, when you feel good from the inside, your outside body will also follow suit.
Take care of your hair
Treat yourself with products that can help you regrow your tresses while waiting for your body to regain its control. Vitamin-rich and volumizing shampoo may do the job by feeding the scalp with supplementary nutrients.
But to keep your hair’s natural oils, you may want to avoid daily washing. Wash your hair every other day to give it time to produce oil that encourages hair growth. Sometimes, a good haircut can also do wonders in giving you thick-looking hair so that you can survive mommyhood with grace.
Don’t neglect your skin care regimen
There’s no need to look at motherhood like a bumpy road that slows you down. If self-care for you means going back to your usual beauty regimen, then by all means, indulge yourself. Cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturize yourself like usual. Your skin needs more attention than it did pre-pregnancy. And needless to say, don’t slow down on moisturizer.
Avoid cosmetic treatments in the meantime while breastfeeding though. Exposure to harsh ingredients can cause potential harm to your baby. You can suspend this for a while and ask for your doctor’s advice.
Though there are certain foods to avoid, let me reiterate the importance of a balanced diet as the best source of nutrients to assist your recovering body. Breastfeeding mommies need to keep their hunger always in check. Load up on lots of healthy stuff to aid your body with natural vitamins from within.
Can I use my usual beauty products even though I am breastfeeding?
Most topical products are safe and do not get absorbed into the bloodstream. What you should avoid are products that contain salicylic acid, Retinol, retinoid, or Hydroxy Acid. Keep in mind that your breastfeeding body is different from your pre-pregnancy body. Thus, you may experience sensitivity to some ingredients that you have used before.
Does biotin supplement work?
There is a limited result to support the efficacy of biotin in research. Biotin is water-soluble, and thus, gets flushed out of the system daily. There is neither good nor bad effect that supports the claim.
Can I take any food supplement while breastfeeding?
Some doctors may recommend moms should take vitamins after delivery. That’s because your body needs to hit the Recommended Dietary Allowance for both you and your baby’s benefits. Vitamins are okay to take in. But if you have a healthy and balanced diet, you should be fine even without taking any supplements.
Every mom suffers from drastic changes not only during pregnancy but even beyond it. Hair and skin problems mostly last until the baby’s twelve months of age. While I understand how badly you want to rush things to get back, patience is also important. Perhaps most moms would agree that a healthy and happy baby is worth all that’s going on with their bodies.
Breastfeeding moms need to have extra precaution on using anything, including food supplements. Hair, nail, and skin vitamins while breastfeeding are safe within a safety parameter. Hence, before taking anything, it pays to check with your doctor to prevent any potential adverse effects.
Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She had experiences in handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also used to train in labor rooms and pediatric wards – helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.