Breastfeeding and Diabetes


The Advantages of Continued Nursing

Breastfeeding and diabetes ~ problems, tips and warnings

Should you be breastfeeding while diabetic? What about breastfeeding and type 2 diabetes?

Yes, a diabetic mother can continue to breastfeed her baby. Whether you have type 1, 2 or gestational diabetes, you can and should continue to breastfeed. Diabetic mothers are advised to breastfeed their babies exclusively for 6 months.


Why is it Important to Breastfeed if You have Diabetes?

- It lowers your baby’s risk of developing diabetes.

- Colostrum helps to stabilize a baby’s blood sugar levels after birth.

- It helps the mother lose weight.

- It helps the body utilize insulin more efficiently.

- It lowers the need for insulin.

- Oxytocin released while breastfeeding will help a mother feel better physically and emotionally. Stress can aggravate diabetes, so this is a big advantage.

Other basic benefits of breastfeeding



~ Breastfeeding and diabetes ~

Does insulin pass through my breast milk?

No, the insulin molecule is too large to pass through into your breast milk.



Tips for Breastfeeding with Diabetes

- Diabetic mothers should always eat something that contains a combination of protein and carbs before a breastfeeding session.

Moms who breastfeed should increase their calories by 250 per day, diabetic moms who breastfeed need to increase their calories by 500 (spread out through the day). 

- A diabetic mother's milk might take longer to "come in" after baby's birth. If baby needs to be supplemented within those first few days while your milk is coming in, you should try to get donor breast milk if possible. A Hypoallergenic formula can be given, if no donor breast milk is available.

- In those first few days while you are waiting for your milk to "come in" you need to continue to breastfeed at least 10 times per day. The more your breasts are stimulated, the more milk you will produce. Do not replace breastfeeding with pumping sessions, instead pump in-between breastfeeding sessions, or use a lact aid to supplement baby (read more on how to use a lact aid).

- Maintain lots of skin to skin contact with your baby, this will trigger the hormones that produce milk.

- Breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after delivery.

- Always keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels.

- Extra calcium is needed (about 1000mg daily).

- Make sure that your baby is latched on properly. Mothers with diabetes have an increased risk of thrush and mastitis, which is why it is important for them to look after their nipples and drain their breasts regularly. 

Stay relaxed while breastfeeding



~ Breastfeeding and diabetes ~

If a mother has gestational diabetes, breastfeeding can prevent her from developing type 1 diabetes later on in her life.



Diabetes Breastfeeding Warnings

- High blood sugar levels can be found in your breast milk, these will sweeten your milk, make your baby pick up weight and give him/her a “sweet tooth”. This is why it is so important to keep a good check on your sugar levels.

- Newborn baby jaundice is also more common in babies whose mothers have diabetes. Read more on jaundice and breastfeeding

- When weaning, a diabetic mother should do so very gradually, if she doesn’t, she has a risk of it affecting her insulin levels.

- Avoid herbs like fenugreek, which have an effect on blood sugar levels.

- If you have type 2 diabetes and are on oral medication, you should discuss with your doctor about the healthiest medication that can be taken for you and baby.

- Do not drink alcohol, as it can decrease milk let down and also increase your risk of hypoglycemia if you take insulin.



~ Breastfeeding and diabetes ~

Solid foods should be introduced only after 6 months of life, especially if there is a risk for diabetes.





Other pages on “breastfeeding problems” related to breastfeeding and diabetes

- Alternative feeding methods

- Breastfeeding diet guidelines

- Mastitis

- Thrush

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Site by BFeeding Mamma, Tracy Behr, Studying through Child birth international (CBC, CBD), Author and Mommy of two.






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