Breast milk is considered to be the most beneficial source of nutrition for infants. Studies have shown that breastfeeding offers many advantages to newborns, including decreased risks of respiratory infections, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. However, diabetic mothers always have a concern about breastfeeding their infants, but it is essential to note that it is absolutely safe to do so.
According to experts, the only concern is for the mother as there are chances that she might experience low blood sugar because of the additional calories she burns while breastfeeding.
It is essential to breastfeed your baby for the first six months as it aids in controlling the baby’s insulin levels. While the benefits of breastfeeding for infants have been widely implied, it is also generally observed that breastfeeding offers a series of benefits to new mothers as well.
* Mothers who breastfeed have claimed to lose weight much faster than those who don’t.
* The uterus shrinks back to the way it was before at a much faster rate.
* Mothers who breastfeed have shown a reduced risk of getting ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer.
Other nutrition for the infant
During a woman’s pregnancy, her body not only produces breast milk, but also a nutritive superfood called colostrum. Colostrum is the yellowish sticky breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy, which is considered to be the perfect food for a new-born. It is recommended that breastfeeding should be initiated within the first hour after birth. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to six months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond.
“In the case of a diabetic mother, her blood sugar levels would’ve been high while giving birth, and a few complications may occur as a result. These high blood sugar levels influence the baby’s pancreas to generate higher levels of insulin. The regular feeding of colostrum as well as breast milk will help in stabilising the baby’s blood sugar levels”, said Gayathri D Kamath, consultant, obstetrics & gynecology, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore.
Other than colostrum, breastfeeding by diabetic mothers has to be done every three hours. However, don’t follow strict timings if your baby is hungry and crying for milk a little earlier.
Tips to ensure diabetic control while breastfeeding
*Eat something before breastfeeding your baby. This will ensure that your blood levels do not fluctuate. Remember, even if your child is not in your womb anymore, you are their safety blanket. So if your blood sugar levels are in control, so will your child’s.
*Mothers usually lose around 50 grams of carbohydrates with every breastfeeding session. So, snack up on some healthy food so that the nutrients carry over to your child.
*Try to track your sleep patterns and sync them to your child’s. This is because if you sleep when your baby is breastfeeding, your blood sugar levels could go down and cause a hypoglycemic attack.
*Diabetic mothers are prone to hypoglycaemic episodes, especially in the first few months, since the breastfeeding sessions will last a lot longer. In such cases, it is always best to consult a lactation specialist or have a gynaecologist you can contact. Get proper advice on how to best maintain your blood sugar levels, or how to detect if you’re having an episode.
“If diabetic mothers are not tackling their blood sugar levels, then it can lead to thrush or mastitis. Thrush is a condition wherein the mother experiences shooting pains in the nipple, and the areola starts to lose or change colour. Mastitis leads to painful, itchy patches on your breast that hurt no matter what position you place your child during breastfeeding. However, this doesn’t mean you should stop breastfeeding, just consult a doctor on the course of action that works best”, added Dr Kamath.
In either of the mentioned cases, it is always wise to get them treated as soon as possible, however inconvenient it may be for you or the baby, as these conditions when left untreated, will cause a rise in blood sugar levels, leading to more complications in the future.
It is always recommended to visit an endocrinologist if the mother is facing difficulty in managing her diabetes. However, we need to stress the fact that a diabetic woman nursing her child will not inherit diabetes to her child. Developing diabetes totally depends on genetics and the kind of lifestyle they are leading.