The mother’s body provides all the baby’s nutrients from conception to birth. This includes the development of the child’s bones. Her health plays a vital role in bone health during pregnancy for her bones and her baby’s bones.

A mother’s bones act as a mineral bank.

We’ve learned that a person’s bones act as a bank for calcium and minerals. When a person does not get enough of these vital nutrients through the foods they eat, their body will extract the minerals from bone tissue.

This mineral withdrawal also happens during pregnancy and breastfeeding to ensure bone growth continues in the developing child.

Mineral withdrawal may temporarily lower a woman’s bone density.

According to a study out of Poland, this phenomenon continues during pregnancy and breastfeeding. After the baby is weaned, a woman’s bone mineral density returns to pre-pregnancy levels. This process doesn’t seem to have a long-term impact on women’s bone health or increase the risk of osteoporosis in the future.

The National Institutes of Health also reports that some studies suggest pregnancy may protect a woman from osteoporosis in her later years. But teenage mothers may be an exception to that general statement.

There is a rare and serious condition known as pregnancy and lactation-associated osteoporosis (PLO). This form of osteoporosis can cause vertebral fractures in later-term pregnancy or lactation. Women who suffer from this condition may have malfunctioning osteoblasts, the body’s bone-building cells.

To provide the best bone health during pregnancy for both mother and child, health care providers recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat a calcium-rich diet and exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

A bone-friendly diet includes foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. These nutrients will help the body build bone tissue. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, also help women maintain bone health.

If you experience back pain during pregnancy, talk to your obstetrician, midwife, or primary health care provider.