Breastfeeding and Diabetes

The Advantages of Continued Nursing

Australian breastfeeding hold, breastfeeding upright

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 or longer.

Does insulin pass through my breast milk?

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

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 huge advantage. Learn more about the amazing benefits of breastfeeding.

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

Tips for Breastfeeding with Diabetes

  • Diabetic mothers should always eat something that contains a combination of protein and carbs before a breastfeeding session.
  • Mothers who breastfeed will need to increase their calories daily, diabetic mothers who breastfeed need to increase their calories by an extra 500 (spread out through the day). 
  • A diabetic mother's milk might take longer to "come in" after her baby's birth. If her baby needs to be supplemented within those first few days, while her milk is coming in, she should try to get donor breast milk if possible. A Hypoallergenic formula can be given if no donor breast milk is available.
  • During 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 of pump in-between breastfeeding sessions, or use a lact-aid to supplement baby.
  • 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 essential for them to look after their nipples and drain their breasts regularly. 
  • Stay relaxed while breastfeeding.

If a mother has gestational diabetes, breastfeeding can prevent her from developing type 2 diabetes, later on in her life.

Diabetes Breastfeeding Warnings

  • Newborn baby jaundice is also more common in babies whose mothers have diabetes.
  • 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 your baby.
  • Do not drink alcohol, as it can decrease milk let down and also increase your risk of hypoglycemia if you take insulin.

The Research of Breastfeeding and Diabetes Risk

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