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Breast-Feeding When You Have Diabetes

Topic Overview

Even though you have diabetes, you can have the same success with breast-feeding as any other woman. Breast-feeding is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical specialist organizations, because it benefits the mother and the infant. Make sure your diabetes care team and other members of the health care team know before the birth that you are planning to breast-feed.

Nutritional requirements of breast-feeding

Nutrition is one key to a healthy, successful breast-feeding experience. Taking care of a new baby may change when and how you eat. So you might need to test your blood sugar more often and adjust your diabetes medicines.

Eat a nutritious diet and be sure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

Your body is using energy making breast milk, so you might have more low blood sugars. Eat a snack before or during nursing or before naps to prevent hypoglycemia. A registered dietitian can help you tailor your meal plan to meet your nutritional needs, your target blood sugar range, and your weight goals.

Some examples of healthy snacks include:

  • Bagel with cream cheese.
  • Meat sandwich.
  • Dried fruit and nut mix.
  • Crackers with cheese or cottage cheese.
  • Hard-boiled egg and toast.
  • Fruit salad.

Drink plenty of water and other sugar-free, noncaffeinated beverages. If you drink milk and juice to meet your fluid needs, be sure to count them in your meal plan.

Do not drink alcohol while you are breast-feeding, because it may interfere with your milk let-down reflex, increase your risk of low blood sugar (if you take insulin), and prevent you from drinking more nutritious beverages. Also, alcohol passes from your breast milk into your baby.

When breast-feeding is not recommended

In some circumstances, breast-feeding is not advised, such as:

  • If diabetic complications inhibit your body's ability to handle the additional demands of breast-feeding.
  • If you are using medicines or substances that are not compatible with breast-feeding. Oral diabetes medicines are not recommended for breast-feeding women.

For more general information, see the topic Breast-Feeding.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
David C.W. Lau, MD, PhD, FRCPC - Endocrinology
Last Revised July 16, 2013

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