If our bones could talk, what would they say about how well we take care of them? It might surprise us to overhear their comments. Maybe those creaking sounds we sometimes hear from our bones is their way of telling us to be more careful.
We don’t start out expecting that our bones might become frail and falter later in life. Babies are born with 300 bones, but in adulthood a total of 206. Without a lifetime of proper care and nourishment, we may let them down.
It’s estimated that 10 million Americans have Osteoporosis, 8 million or 80% are women.
How do bones develop?
The Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation, states that bone development is a complex process. Bones begin to form in the fetus 6 months before birth and is not generally complete until between ages 13-18. Bone formation is never really complete. Bone is a living tissue made up of:
- Other minerals and water
It is always renewing itself by breaking down older bone and replacing it with new bone. This process is call remodeling.
Why is good bone health important during pregnancy?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that during pregnancy, the baby growing in its mother’s womb needs plenty of calcium to develop its skeleton. This is especially important during the last 3 months of pregnancy.
If the mother doesn’t get enough calcium, her baby will draw what it needs from the mother’s bones. The NIH notes that fortunately, pregnancy appears to help protect most women’s calcium reserves in several ways:
- Pregnant women absorb calcium from food and supplements better than women who are not pregnant. This is especially true during the last half of pregnancy, when the baby is growing quickly and has the greatest need for calcium.
- During pregnancy, women produce more estrogen, a hormone that protects bones.
- Any bone loss during pregnancy is typically restored within several months after the baby’s delivery (or several months after breastfeeding has stopped).
- For those moms-to-be who are lactose intolerant, be sure to check with your OB/GYN for recommendations on calcium products.
Why are teen moms at risk for bone issues?
Teenage mothers may be at a higher risk for bone loss during pregnancy and for osteoporosis later in life according to the NIH. Teenage girls are still building much of their own total bone mass. The unborn baby’s need to develop its skeleton may compete with the young mother’s need to build her own bones. Pregnant teens should be especially careful to get enough calcium during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Does breastfeeding affect bones?
It does affect a mother’s bones. Studies have shown that women often lose 3-5 percent of their bone mass during breastfeeding, although they recover it rapidly after weaning. The good news from the NIH is that the amount of bone loss during pregnancy and breastfeeding is usually recovered within a few months after feeding ends.
How to keep bones healthy for new moms-to-be
Be sure to start your pregnancy off right by talking with your OB/GYN for guidance on maintaining good bone health throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Start with a balanced diet with adequate calcium, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle. These are all good for both mother and baby.
Remember to listen to what our bones are telling us for a strong and healthy life.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness, and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis, or a substitute for health care by your physician.