Fish Oil And Mothers
All of the usual benefits of fish oil are available to pregnant women and nursing mothers . . . and more. This article focuses on the “more,” the benefits of fish oil that only apply to pregnant mothers and mothers of infants.
Fish oil has health benefits because it contains Omega 3 which is an essential fatty acid (EFA).
Essential fatty acids are, well, essential. You – and your baby! — need them for optimum health. However, your body is incapable of producing Omega 3. Therefore, you must consume it in the foods you eat or by taking a supplement.
The two types of Omega 3 that have the most health benefits are abbreviated DHA and EPA. These abbreviations stand for Docosahexaenoic Acid and Eicosopentaenoic Acid. (Now you know why the abbreviations are popular!)
Of these two types of Omega 3, DHA is more important to pregnant and nursing mothers because it is critical for fetal brain and nervous system development as well as retina development.
Fetuses And Newborns Require DHA
Your developing baby requires DHA Omega 3 fatty acid for the development of its brain, central nervous system and vision.
The reason that DHA is valuable is that it is a “building block” which is part of the membrane of every cell in the brain and, for that matter, every cell in the body. That’s why DHA is critical when your baby’s brain is being “built,” especially true during the last 3 months of gestation, when your baby’s brain grows threefold.
Because your baby’s brain continues to develop rapidly in the first months of life, getting an ample supply of DHA to your baby remains very important during that period, too.
Elsewhere at this site, you can learn more about fish oil and babies, particularly DHA and babies.
Mothers Need DHA Too
Partly because they transfer part of their supply of DHA to their babies during pregnancy, mothers tend to become low on the essential DHA themselves.
So it’s very important that mothers maintain their supply of DHA, both for their child and for themselves.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is one particular problem that DHA may benefit.
PPD affects about 10-15% of mothers in the USA, usually within the first month following delivery. Children of affected mothers may experience impaired attachment and PPD may adversely affect their behavioral and cognitive development.
Several studies have shown that mothers with PPD tend to be deficient in EPA and DHA. Other studies have found that women with an adequate intake of DHA (from seafood or supplements) tend to be less likely to develop PPD
Pregnant And Nursing Mothers Must Maintain Adequate DHA Supplies For Their Benefit And For The Benefit Of Their Child
If you regularly eat a balanced diet that includes cold water fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna at least two times a week, you are probably getting sufficient DHA into your blood stream. But be vigilant.
However, if you don’t always eat fish that often, with the advice of your physician you should consider taking a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement that is high in DHA.
Fish oil capsules are a convenient way to make sure you are getting an adequate supply of DHA on a regular basis.