World Diabetes Day 2022: Does diabetes affect breastfeeding?

Does breastfeeding affect gestational diabetes? An expert answers

World Diabetes Day 2022: If you’ve got your basics about diabetes right, you surely know that due to diabetes, the body gradually loses the capacity to produce insulin. Insulin plays an important role in milk production. So, for diabetic mothers, breastfeeding comes with benefits as well as challenges!

Breastfeeding is beneficial for the mother and the child as it keeps the infant safe from type 1 diabetes. Breastfeeding also helps in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in the mother. On the challenges front, diabetes is said to affect the milk supply.

There are also myths about whether or not it is safe for diabetic mothers to provide breast milk to milk banks. Let’s answer some FAQs on diabetes and breastfeeding.


Women can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy
Women can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5 facts on diabetes and breastfeeding

1. How does breastfeeding affect blood glucose levels?

Immediately after the delivery of the placenta, blood sugar levels start reducing and insulin requirements come down to half. So in breastfeeding, mothers may experience hypoglycemia also within an hour of breastfeeding. After monitoring blood glucose levels, they are advised to have a snack before feeding.

2. How does diabetes affect the milk supply in a lactating mother?

You may wonder if it is difficult for diabetic mothers to produce milk. Let us tell you that obesity, older maternal age, insulin treated diabetes can have difficulty in initiation of milk production. Insulin resistance, associated with obesity and Type 2 diabetes, is related to delay in lactogenesis. Obese diabetic mothers should be reassured and motivated for lactation. They can use breast pump to stimulate milk production, if the infant is not sucking efficiently.

Also read: Does breastfeeding affect gestational diabetes? An expert answers

Diabetes and breastmilk production
You may face issues with milk production if you have diabetes. Image courtesy; Shutterstock

3. Is it safe to use insulin and diabetes medications when breastfeeding?

Insulin is safe during breastfeeding. Few of the OHAs (oral hypoglycaemic agents) are safe during breastfeeding. With recommendations of a doctor, dosage should be reduced after delivery. Some of them may go back to pre-pregnancy insulin dosage immediately after delivery.

4. How does breastfeeding affect diabetes management and blood sugar levels?

During breastfeeding, blood sugar levels fall after delivery and lactation is recommended for diabetic mothers for sugar control and weight loss. Breastfeeding is as such recommended for prevention of neonatal hypoglycemia and infant nutrition.

5. What are the precautions recommended for diabetic mothers?

After delivery, diabetic mothers are emphasized about lifestyle measures such as proper diet, regular exercise and weight loss. Gestational diabetic mothers are offered annual sugar screening and lifestyle measures. At the same time, chances of recurrence in a future pregnancy are explained. Diabetic mothers are even educated about the need of proper contraception and good sugar control in future pregnancies.

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