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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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 16, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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