Pregnancy and Bone Health

By Guest Blogger, Alyssa Maynard- CAPPA Childbirth Educator & Doula in training

Pregnancy is a time of great changes for the body. While some changes can be seen with the naked eye, there is also a lot happening deep within the body. This article specifically aims to talk about bone health, an area of pregnancy that is not always discussed.

Pregnancy is actually reported to be good for a mother’s bones. During pregnancy, women are more able to absorb calcium from what they ingest and their bodies produce more estrogen, which acts to protect bones. During the beginning stages of pregnancy, a mother’s absorption of calcium doubles and is stored in her bones. This calcium will be used in the later stages of pregnancy to form the bones of the growing fetus.

If the mother receives enough calcium during pregnancy, there should be no negative side effects to her body. However, many women are not in the habit of getting enough calcium normally, never mind during pregnancy. If the mother does not receive enough calcium, the growing fetus will draw the calcium that it needs from its mother’s bones. This can cause a loss in bone density and in extreme cases, osteoporosis.  If  a woman is of  normal childbearing age, any bone mass lost during pregnancy is usually recovered when pregnancy and breastfeeding are ceased.

Breastfeeding is also a crucial period for bone health and can also result in a decrease in bone density for women. This is because the infant still wants the calcium but the body is not producing increased levels of estrogen anymore which make the body more susceptible to calcium. Therefore, the calcium for the baby comes from the mothers bones.  However, women rapidly regain bone density when breast feeding is stopped. It is important to continue to take prenatal vitamins and have an increased calcium intake during breastfeeding for this reason.

There are many different ways to promote bone health, in both habit and diet. Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should ingest 1000 milligrams of calcium per day. Calcium can be found in dairy foods such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Other great sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choy, collard greens, and mustard greens. Foods high in protein can also be a good source of calcium, such as edamame, eggs, tofu, beans, and some fish. Some people use calcium supplements as a way to obtain the needed calcium. It should be noted that this is not the recommended way to obtain calcium. Calcium supplements should be used to make up the deficit not as a primary source of calcium.

There are other vitamins and minerals that are important to bone health. Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium absorption during pregnancy. The most common way that people get vitamin D is by foods fortified by Vitamin D, such as milk. Vitamin D only naturally occurs in fish, liver, and egg yolk. Other minerals and vitamins crucial to bone health are protein, phosphorous and magnesium however calcium and Vitamin D remain the most crucial.

Besides diet, a great way to maintain bone health during pregnancy (and throughout life in general) is to exercise the bones. The best way to do this is by weight bearing exercises.

It is important to note that most women do not experience significant bone damage during pregnancy. If mothers keep up with their nutrient intake and remain active, the effects of pregnancy on bone health will be minimal.

About Healing Hands Chiropractic:

Healing Hands Chiropractic is a full-service family wellness center specializing in Webster certified prenatal & family chiropractic care, acupuncture, cognitive-behavioral therapy, reiki & aromatherapy, massage therapy, pregnancy & birth classes and breastfeeding support.