Breast is best and there’s no reason for diabetes to change this.
Breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for your child, gives extra protection against infections (through your own antibodies), and helps you bond.
There’s no reason why women with diabetes cannot breastfeed. However, in some women with diabetes, breastfeeding may be difficult to establish – if the baby has had to be given a ‘top-up feed’ by syringe to treat a hypo, or if you were initially separated from your baby due to Caesarean section or your baby’s treatment in the neonatal unit. If a baby needs the neonatal unit, the mother is encouraged to express her milk.
If your diabetes is in good control, your milk will have much the same composition as milk from a woman without diabetes.
Questions and answers
Will I need to change my insulin dose while breastfeeding?
Perhaps. Breastfeeding may lower your insulin needs by up to 25 per cent. Breast milk contains a type of sugar called lactose. Every time you feed your baby, you will lose that sugar and your blood glucose will drop, which may cause a hypo. To help avoid hypos, you may need to eat 40–50g more starchy foods per day while you are breastfeeding. Your healthcare team can help you balance your food and insulin levels at this time.
Even though you will be eating more, breastfeeding will not make you gain weight. In fact, it may help you lose weight – but if it doesn’t, you can focus on losing weight after you have stopped breastfeeding.
Can I breastfeed if I’m taking tablets for Type 2 diabetes?
You can resume or continue taking Metformin or glibenclamide while breastfeeding, if your doctor is in agreement.