All women will certainly relate to the fact that being a mother is the biggest blessing. Your happiness knows no bounds. But being a new mother is exhilarating too. Because, as a mother, you want to give the best to your baby but are unaware of the right things, especially when you do not have any elderly or older woman with you. It becomes confusing at times as there is a plethora of advice and many of them are conflicting. The problem aggravates if the mother has pre-existing medical conditions.
Diabetes is one such medical condition that leads to a lot of ambiguities and is extremely common to occur in India. There are majorly two categories of diabetes occurring in pregnant women, pre-pregnancy diabetes which can be either Type 1 or Type 2 or gestational diabetes which develops during pregnancy and the child is more prone to this kind.
Mothers dealing with diabetes and their baby at the same time, are under a lot of dilemmas related to breast-feeding, insulin intake, lactation and more. Answering the question, ‘Should she breastfeed?’ I would say, yes! As breastfeeding offers innumerable health benefits to the baby and mother. Less known by most people, the range of benefits increase in the case of diabetic mothers.
Another important and most common question raised is, ‘Would insulin or another anti-diabetic drug affect the baby?’ The answer might affect your choices a bit, but being honest yes, insulin or other anti-diabetic drugs can affect the blood sugar level of the mother. But the good point is that most of them do not enter the breast milk so they don’t affect the baby directly.
Type 2 or Type 1 diabetic women also pose the question of lactation. They are often found ambiguous about the production of milk for their baby. Such women would like to know that insulin plays an important role in breastmilk production. In diabetes, either insulin is not produced (Type1) or there is an impaired response to insulin (Type2). However, there can be some delay in Stage 2 Lactogenesis i.e. stage when breastmilk production increases. But this can be managed by early skin to skin contact with the baby, early and frequent breastfeeding and careful monitoring of the infant.
Benefits to Baby
Medicinal science and various researches already claim various benefits associated with breastfeeding. While some women are unable to breastfeed, others simply choose not to. But trust me, it has all the reasons required. It is undoubtedly the best and the most ideal nutrition for the infant as it has all kinds of antibodies required for fighting against any kind of disease. As a result of which, it becomes responsible for reducing the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by 33 per cent. It also becomes a shield for the baby against certain childhood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma.
Breast milk works wonders on the immune system of the baby. It also protects the infant against diarrhoea, ear infections and any kind of respiratory infections. Yes, of course, it promotes the overall development of the child, especially on the brain level. As per world statistics, breastfed babies have higher IQ by six points than non-breastfed ones. Thus, you know why it is the right and the most important choice meant for your baby, as a mother.
Benefits to Mother
This regular act of feeding the baby is extremely beneficial for the mother as well. It improves glucose metabolism in the early postpartum period and helps in maintaining the normal blood glucose level and early remission in gestational diabetes. It further reduces insulin or oral anti-diabetic drug requirement which is what every diabetes patient wants.
It also reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in cases of gestational diabetes by seven times. Believe me or not, it helps in losing weight as well. Around 500 calories per day are burned by exclusive breastfeeding and thus helps to achieve better glucose control. This practice can minimise the risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer in women. It further helps to lower the postpartum blood loss and delay in menses. Moreover, the common problem of mood swings occurring in almost every woman is also addressed with this, as breastfeeding releases a mood-elevating hormone called Oxytocin.
The article courtesy goes to Dr Prachee Shah, M.D Pediatrics, CLEC (California), IBCLC.