Breastfeed to keep diabetes at bay

Gestational diabetes is a common phenomenon, but that shouldn’t stop you from breastfeeding your new-born child.



Breast milk for a new born human baby is as important as a cow’s milk is important for its calf. If a cow or for that matter any mammal has no option but to feed its own milk to its newborn, then why should there be exceptions for humans? Mother’s milk is tailor-made for the baby and its benefits can never be replaced by any formula or cow’s milk.



With today’s cutting-edge technology, the formula companies have managed to add iron, nucleotides, minerals, fatty acids like DHA, etc. to modify cow’s milk proteins to get these
powders closer to breast milk. But it’s essential to know that breast milk is a live fluid i.e. it
has live white blood cells, antibodies and many other elements which can never be present in formulas. The idea of feeding a baby breast milk is not just for nourishment and weight
gain, but to enhance the baby’s immune system.



A lot of independent research reports have mentioned that children who are not breastfed
enough are vulnerable to risks of high respiratory infections, high blood pressure, asthma, atopy (a disorder marked by the tendency to develop allergic reactions) and diabetes, too.



A new mother who has gestational diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk that her child will become obese during childhood. However, WHO recommends that breastfeeding a baby for at least six months neutralises that risk. Breastfed children of mothers with diabetes are no more likely to be overweight at ages six to thirteen than kids whose moms didn’t have diabetes.


Breastfeeding for less than six months, though, showed no benefit in reducing obesity. Babies aren’t the only ones benefitting out of breastfeeding — it improves the health of mothers as well! Studies show that among women who had gestational diabetes, breastfeeding was associated with a lower rate of type 2 diabetes for up to 2 years after
childbirth. The results suggested that breastfeeding after gestational diabetes may have
lasting effects that reduce a woman’s chance of developing T2D. Breastfeeding increases
insulin sensitivity and improves glucose metabolism in the mother. Breastfeeding for longer
than 5 months lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by more than one half. About 5-9 per cent of pregnant women nationwide develop high blood sugar levels even though they don’t have
diabetes before pregnancy. This condition, called gestational diabetes, drastically raises a
woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. In type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond properly to insulin, a hormone that signals cells to take in the sugar glucose from the blood. If left untreated, blood sugar levels can soar and cause a host of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and even amputation in some cases.



Breastfeeding is good for women with diabetes, but it may make your blood glucose a little harder to predict. To help prevent low blood glucose levels, try these tips:



1. Plan to have a snack before or during nursing.
2. Drink enough fluids (plan to sip a glass of water or a caffeine-free drink while nursing).
3. Keep something to treat low blood glucose nearby when you nurse, so you don’t have to stop your child’s feeding.


Developing a meal plan with your health care provider or dietician will help mothers to achieve gradual weight loss and simultaneously be successful at breastfeeding.



For mothers who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and use either insulin or oral blood glucose-lowering medications, it’s important to understand the safety measures while breastfeeding.
Most medications used to treat diabetes can be safely used during nursing, but it’s advisable to check with a doctor on its usage. 


By. Dr. Madhavi Latha




Diabetic Living is the only lifestyle magazine that demonstrates how to live fully each and every day while managing diabetes.