Breastfeeding and Diabetes - Can You Still Breastfeed?

Yes, a diabetic mother can continue to breastfeed her baby. Whether you have type 1, 2 or gestational diabetes, you can and should continue to breastfeed. Diabetic mothers are advised to breastfeed their babies exclusively for 6 months or longer.

Breastfeeding a newborn
Breastfeeding a newborn

Breastfeeding and Diabetes

The Advantages of Continued Nursing

Should you be breastfeeding while diabetic? What about breastfeeding and type 2 diabetes?

Yes, a diabetic mother can continue to breastfeed her baby. You can and should continue breastfeeding if you have type 1, 2, or gestational diabetes. Diabetic mothers are advised to breastfeed their babies exclusively for six months or longer.

Does insulin pass through my breast milk?
The insulin molecule is too large to pass through into your breast milk.

Why Is It Important to Breastfeed if You Have Diabetes?

  • It lowers your baby's risk of developing diabetes.
  • Colostrum helps to stabilize a baby's blood sugar levels after birth.
  • It allows the mother to lose weight.
  • It helps the body utilize insulin more efficiently.
  • It lowers the need for insulin.
  • Oxytocin released while breastfeeding will help a mother feel better physically and emotionally. Stress can aggravate diabetes, so this is a significant advantage.

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Tips for Breastfeeding with Diabetes

  • Diabetic mothers should always eat something that contains a combination of protein and carbs before a breastfeeding session.
  • Mothers who breastfeed need to increase their calories daily, and diabetic mothers who breastfeed need to increase their calories by an extra 500 (spread out throughout the day).
  • A diabetic mother's milk might take longer to come in after her baby's birth. If her baby needs to be supplemented within those first few days while her milk comes in, she should try to get donor breast milk if possible. A Hypoallergenic formula can be given if no donor breast milk is available.
  • During those first few days, while you wait for your milk to come in, you must continue breastfeeding at least ten times per day. The more your breasts are stimulated, the more milk you will produce. Do not replace breastfeeding with pumping sessions; instead, pump in between breastfeeding sessions, or use a lact-aid to supplement the baby.
  • Maintain lots of skin-to-skin contact with your baby; this will trigger the hormones that produce milk.
  • Breastfeed your baby as soon as possible after delivery.
  • Always keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels.
  • Make sure that your baby is latched on properly. Mothers with diabetes have an increased risk of thrush and mastitis, so they must look after their nipples and drain their breasts regularly.
  • Stay relaxed while breastfeeding.

Women with gestational diabetes who breastfed for six to 12 months had a 9% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not breastfeed. The risk was further reduced by 15% for those who breastfed for one to two years, and by 27% for those who breastfed for over two years.
Australian breastfeeding hold, breastfeeding upright
Laughing Baby

Diabetes Breastfeeding Warnings

  • Newborn baby jaundice is also more common in babies whose mothers have diabetes.
  • When weaning, a diabetic mother should do so very gradually, and if she doesn't, she has a risk of it affecting her insulin levels.
  • Avoid herbs like fenugreek, which affects blood sugar levels.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes and are on oral medication, you should discuss with your doctor the healthiest medication that can be taken for you and your baby.
  • Do not drink alcohol, as it can decrease milk letdown and increase your risk of hypoglycemia if you take insulin.

The Research on Breastfeeding and Diabetes Risk


Does Breastfeeding Raise or Lower Blood Sugar?

Breastfeeding has been linked to lower fasting glucose levels after childbirth, although it doesn't seem to affect the mother's lipid profile. It could also help mitigate glucose intolerance in women who have experienced gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Does Breast Milk Help With Diabetes?

Breastfeeding can enhance your body's sensitivity to insulin and positively affect your glucose metabolism in the long run. If you have Type-1 diabetes, breastfeeding can decrease your insulin requirements. For those with Type-2 diabetes, breastfeeding can help lessen the severity of the condition.

What Should Diabetics Eat While Breastfeeding?

To avoid hypoglycemia, consider having a snack before nursing or napping. Healthy snack options could be a bagel topped with cream cheese, a sandwich with meat, crackers with cheese or cottage cheese, a hard-boiled egg with toast, a fruit salad, or a mix of dried fruits and nuts. Also, make sure to stay hydrated.

How can I balance my blood sugar while breastfeeding?

To keep your blood sugar levels in check while nursing, focus on both your dietary choices and the timing of your meals. Try to have a snack before or after breastfeeding.


Should I Continue Breastfeeding? I Am Juvenile Type 1 Diabetes
by Anonymous

"I have been a juvenile diabetic type 1, and I am a new mom - my baby is one month old, and I had to get a c-section and early labor.

I have been breastfeeding my baby since I gave birth. Should I continue breastfeeding? Will my baby get diabetes as she's growing? Is there a risk of her developing diabetes while breastfeeding?"

by: Tracy

"Whether you have type 1, 2, or gestational diabetes, you can and should continue breastfeeding.

Diabetic mothers are advised to breastfeed their babies exclusively for six months or longer. Breastfeeding will lower your baby's risk of developing diabetes.

Other advantages of continued breastfeeding include:

* Colostrum helps to stabilize a baby's blood sugar levels after birth.

* Breastfeeding will help your body utilize insulin more efficiently.

* Breastfeeding will lower your body's need for insulin.

* The hormone Oxytocin released while breastfeeding will help you feel better, physically and emotionally.

Can Diabetes Affect Milk Production?
by Myra
(Phoenix, AZ)

"I've been type two diabetic for about four years. When I found out I was pregnant, I was stressed, and due to my diabetes, I had to take insulin shots. To top it off, I had to have a c-section because of some health complications - my complications, not hers.

During my stay at the hospital, I was on Magnesium and was told not to breastfeed my baby, but I was still pumping.

To make a long story short, my baby is now two months, and the most milk I have produced is 1 ml every two hours; I had to give her formula because it wasn't enough.

Can diabetes affect the production of milk?"


by Tracy
Hi, Myra.

"Yes, it does mess around with milk production; some diabetic moms only really start producing a total amount of milk eight months after giving birth.

You will also need to keep your blood sugar regulated, as this can cause a rise and fall in milk production."

Can You Give Your Child Diabetes by Breastfeeding?
by Dayalan K
(Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.)

"My fiance has type 2 diabetes. We will get married the following year, and we would love to have a baby. Could we have a child without it being detrimental to her health? Would diabetes affect our baby?

My fiance keeps her blood sugar at normal levels. Would we need to give the baby any medication? What foods are good for the baby's health and the mother's health during the pregnancy? Would we need to take any special precautions during delivery? Can my fiance feed her child regularly? And for how long should she breastfeed?"


by Tracy

"Breastfeeding will lower your baby's risk of developing diabetes.

You will need to get an obstetrician to monitor her and your baby's health during her pregnancy.

The best way to avoid any problems is if she continues to control her blood sugar levels, this is vital. Good control over blood sugar levels will reduce the risk of miscarriage, premature labor, congenital disabilities, and having a large baby and will reduce the risk of preeclampsia, which are all higher risks in mothers with diabetes.

Some tips to remember:

* She should check her blood sugar levels often.

* Ask your doctor about changing her medications. Some recommend insulin instead of oral medications during pregnancy.

* During the last three months of pregnancy, there are hormones produced by the placenta that help the baby grow that can block the effect of insulin in your system. As a result, you may need to use more insulin than usual. Do not worry about insulin passing into breast milk; this is impossible as the insulin molecules are too small.

* Talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin that contains folic acid.

* Getting a dietitian during this time would be a great idea.


She should choose a few activities she enjoys and stick to these, and aim to exercise at least 2 hours per week.

A stationary bike, swimming, or brisk walking are great moderate activities to consider during pregnancy; she must remember to check her blood sugar levels before and after any exercise.

After Delivery

"It is important to continue checking blood sugar levels, especially because she plans to breastfeed.

She must breastfeed for at least six months; breastfeeding will lower your baby's risk of developing diabetes - colostrum will also help to stabilize your baby's blood sugar levels after birth. Breastfeeding will help mom relax and decrease the risk of postpartum depression.

She will need to take in an extra 500 calories daily while breastfeeding. She should try to eat a small snack before every breastfeeding session containing carbs and protein.

Breastfeed the baby as often as possible, especially if her milk does not "mature" or "come in" within the first three days (delayed milk onset is a common occurrence in diabetic moms.) She should avoid common herbs used to increase breast milk supply, which may affect her blood sugar levels.

Hope this helps."