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Breastfeeding And Diabetes
 by: Vivian L. Brennan





If you are a diabetic and have a baby, there are certain things to keep in mind while you are breastfeeding. Firstly, studies have proven that breastfeeding a baby can help to prevent type 1 diabetes development. Babies who breastfeed until at least six months will be at a lower risk for type 1 diabetes. Doctors generally recommend that mothers breastfeed their children until nine to twelve months.

Doctors are unsure if the positive effects of nursing come from special nutrients in the colostrum (the special milk from mothers) or if it because babies who are breastfed often grow at a more regular pace than those who are fed from cow’s milk. Babies weaned on cow’s milk often experience growth spurts rather than the steady growth associated with mother’s milk. If you are a diabetic, consider breastfeeding to help lower your child’s chances of diabetes due to genetic predisposition.

Breastfeeding is not only positive for the babies, but also for the mothers. Breastfeeding can help maternal weight loss, and it is particularly important for diabetic women to maintain a healthy weight. Some breastfeeding mothers find it easier for them to manage their diabetes because their glucose levels stay more constant and they have a remission of some symptoms while breastfeeding.

Just like during pregnancy, breastfeeding requires much blood sugar level monitoring from the mother. You will probably find that your need for insulin is lower than before your pregnancy. Insulin will not enter your baby’s body because it is too large to be carried on the breast milk. However, if you have type 2 diabetes and are taking diabetes medication, talk with your doctor to make sure that you are on a type of medication that will be healthiest for both you and for your baby.

Breastfeeding means that you have to be extra careful of your nutrition, so be sure to see your doctor or dietitian to create a meal plan that will work for you. It is important to eat regular snacks when you are breastfeeding because you want to keep your blood glucose levels constant. You will need to increase your caloric intake by about 500 calories a day to meet your baby’s nutritional needs. You can do this simply by drinking a glass of milk each time you breastfeed, which will keep you both hydrated and full of vitamins.

In order to maintain a balanced diet, experts suggest that mothers eat 20% of calories from protein, 40-60% from carbohydrates, and 30-40% from fruits and vegetables. Keeping up with all of these food groups will ensure that your body has the nutrients to provide for the baby.

As a breastfeeding mother, low blood sugar is an increased risk. However, by eating a healthy diet full of legumes, whole grains, other healthy foods, you will be able to keep low blood sugar at bay. Drinking lots of fluids is also an important part of having a healthy blood sugar level. Most importantly, monitor your blood glucose levels and record the results frequently. Having a newborn baby around will mean that you are very busy, but it is also the time when it is most important to take care of yourself so that you will be able to care for your baby.

When the baby is born, often it is a good idea to immediately allow the baby to breastfeed, which will prevent low blood sugar. Some hospitals will try to take babies away for observation. You can ask politely, and firmly insist that you baby stays with you for the first feeding and for some initial bonding time. If you are hospitalized after the baby is born, ask to bring your baby with you so that you will still be able to breastfeed. Diabetic mothers are not often hospitalized, but since breastfeeding is even more important for diabetic mothers, it is important to keep this in mind.

Some diabetic mothers may find that their milk comes in late, between two days to two weeks. In the meantime, use a breastpump and speak to your doctor to establish the best solution for you and your baby. Even babies who are too weak to breastfeed can be fed breastmilk that has been pumped.

Breastfeeding is a bonding experience for mothers and babies. Diabetics can breastfeed and gain even more benefits than the emotional closeness, such as lowered diabetes risk for the baby, and improved diabetes control for the mother.

About The Author

Vivian Brennan is an expert on diabetes, and is currently an editor at http://www.theguideto-diabetes.com/living_with_diabetes/ She is also a mother of two. She believes in educating people about diabetes to help people improve their lives.

This article was posted on September 25, 2006

 


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