Vitamin D in conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding

Nov 23, 2015 - 6:53am

Vitamin D in conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding

The spring is here and the warm rays of the sun do more than just giving us a sun-kissed glow on the face. Sunshine if an important natural source of Vitamin D that could increase your chances of conception, as well as playing an essential role in baby’s skeletal development during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


What is the role of Vitamin D?

Your body needs Vitamin D for many functions that include: bone health, immune system and cancer prevention. One of the important roles of Vitamin D is to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate for bone strenth.

Why is Vitamin D important in conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Conception depends on multiple factors and nutritional status of both female and male is a major player. There have been numerous studies that correlate impaired fertility and low Vitamin D status in both sexes.

During pregnancy there are additional demands on a woman’s body. During this time Vitamin D requirement can increase up to 4 to 5 fold and having sufficient levels of this vitamin is important in preventing baby’s bone deformities. Vitamin D is also important post-birth in breastfed infants. If a woman has been deficient in Vitamin D throughout pregnancy and is breastfeeding, it is advised to give Vitamin D supplementation (400IU daily) drops to the newborn.

If a woman is formula feeding, however, there is no need for Vitamin D supplementation.  Fortified formula milk provides enough vitamin D for the newborn.

How do I get adequate intake of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is aquired in three ways:

1. Sun exposure: Your body makes most of its vitamin D through the exposure to sunlight during the summer months. In the skin, ultraviolet rays will convert cholesterol precursor (7-dehydrocholesterol) to Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

As an approximate guide, in order to get adequate Vitamin D from the sun you need to expose you face and forearms to sunlight for at least 20 minutes a day, without sunscreen. Certainly, this advice should be taken sensibly and tailored to the individual. Factors that should be taken in account are: geographical location, season, time of the day, skin tone, age and the amount of skin coverage. It is also best to avoid the strong ultraviolet exposure in the middle of the day 11am-2pm.

2. Food sources:

Dietary vitamin D may be derived from eggs, butter, mushrooms, fatty fish such as herring, tuna, makerel, salmon and sardines, beef, liver and fortified foods such as milk.

3. Vitamin D supplementation: Ostelin, OSteVit-D capsules and drops.

How do I check if I need to supplement with Vitamin D?

If you are planning to conceive or in the early stages of pregnancy, it is best look after yourself with optimal nutrition. However, in the case of Vitamin D, it is a fat-soluble vitamin and for this reason it is often difficult to derive enough from the diet alone. Moreover, due to the high prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency it is advised to check your vitamin D status in most cases with a blood test.

Vitamin D supplementation

The following Vitamin D blood level results could be used as a guide in deciding on the supplement dose:

  • Sufficient:  > 75 nmol/L
  • Sub-optimal level: 50-75 nmol/L
  • Insufficient level: 15-25nmol/L
  • Severe deficiency : < 15 nmol/L

If your levels are below 75 nmol/L, your GP or the obstetrician can advice you on the supplemental dose of Vitamin D to get to the optimal levels. Doses recommended can range from 1000-5000IU a day.

Our pick of Vitamin D supplements:

OsteVit-D Children’s Oral Drops - 15mL

OsteVit-D - 60 Capsules

Ostelin Vitamin D 1000IU - 60 Capsules

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Which supplement have you used to correct your Vitamin D deficiency?

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Happy family and life challengers

Jun 21, 2015 - 10:54am

Happy family and life challengers

Happy family life - most strive to have it. However, becoming a parent comes with its challenges: finances, life responsibilities, work stress, maintaining a loving relationship with your partner, and having a good general health and wellbeing.

Happy family life and challengers

Quote of the week:

Happiness and challengers

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What are your biggest challengers in family life? How do you overcome them?

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Constipation post-birth - what are my options?

Jun 13, 2015 - 4:27pm

Constipation post-birth - what are my options?

Constipation is one of the most common post-natal complaints among the new mums. With the arrival of your newborn it can be very distressing to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of constipation. That is why it is important for women to look after themselves post-birth and address this problem to avoid complications.


Why I am constipated after giving birth?

Some of reasons may include:

1. Stitches and bruising: Tears and soreness around perineum region (between vagina and anus) post a natural delivery are common. It may feel uncomfortable going to the toilet but your stitches will not be affected.

2. Pain medication: Opiod analgesics commonly given after C-section and pain-relief used during labour may slow down your gut motility.

3. Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding causes your body’s fluid to be transferred into the milk. Extra water is drawn from the bowels and if not replaced with an extra intake, bowel motion may become firm and harder to pass.

4. A change of hormone levels: Breastfeeding also causes high progesterone levels. This hormone may slow down the bowel ‘transit time’ and cause constipation.

5. Iron supplements: Iron supplement may contribute to constipation. There are some improved formulations that are less likely to cause constipation. Our pick: Spartone sachets (iron sulphate) – safe during breastfeeding.

Our pick:

Spartone (iron sulphate) – safe during breastfeeding.


What lifestyle and dietary changes should I implement?

There are some things that can help to prevent constipation:

Fluids intake: Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Drink small sips of water throughout the day. Alternatively have a large glass of water after each breastfeed. Also, minimize your water loss by reducing caffeine drinks. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, act as a diuretic further dehydrating the body.

Stay active: Walking and yoga can stimulate the bowels movement and assist in normalising regularity.

High fibre diet: Our body needs dietary fiber to pass through our colon to assist in the peristaltic motion of the bowel. Fibrous foods include: fresh fruits, vegetables, wholemeal breads and cereals, dried fruits, nuts and seeds.

What’s available over-the-counter for constipation?

The following products are safe to use in breastfeeding.

Fibre supplements:

Fybogel: Physllum Husk


Benefibre: Contains inulin - soluble vegetable fiber and therefore completely dissolves into a clear liquid. 

Stool softener:

Coloxyl (Docusate sodium) 


Osmotic laxatives:

Actilax (Lactulose)


Further treatment options.

If the constipation is severe you may need further alternatives. Each case is unique it is best to get your doctor’s or pharmacist’s advice on what option is most suitable for you.

Some of the stronger treatments include:

Stimulant laxative:

- Senna (Senokot) tablet

- Docusate and Senna (Coloxyl and Senna) tablet

- Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) tablet


- Bisacodyl (Dulcolax) suppositories

- Glycerol suppositories


- Microlax enema

Long-term constipation may lead to straining, pelvic floor problems, tears in the anal canal (anal fissures) and piles (hemorrhoids). Although constipation is very common post-birth, it can be prevented with a good management before these complications arise.

Next time …

In one of my next blogs I would like to talk about constipation during pregnancy as well as associated consequences if untreated – hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Did you suffer from constipation after your delivery? What measures did you find the most useful?

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