How breastfeeding can help baby
Breast milk is considered the best food for newborns, and breastfed infants may enjoy some health advantages over their bottle-fed peers. In some studies, health experts have found the practice offers protection against childhood infections and malocclusion (crooked teeth), may increase intelligence, and reduces risks of children being overweight and having diabetes. Some research has suggested an increased risk of cavities in children with longer periods of breastfeeding. However, a recent comprehensive review of the research comparing cavity rates in bottle and breastfed infants found just the opposite: Breastfeeding up to age two was found to protect against cavities.
How breastfeeding can help mom
Breastfeeding offers a number of health benefits for mom, too. This is true for women with and without diabetes. While having children may increase the odds of a woman being overweight or obese, breastfeeding for at least six months can decrease that risk, possibly by helping women shed excess post-pregnancy weight. In some studies, compared with women who breastfeed for less time or who do not breastfeed at all, women who do so for at least six to twelve months have been found to have a reduced risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and heart attack, type 2 diabetes (even for women who have gestational diabetes), rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers.
Tips for breastfeeding with diabetes
Even if you have diabetes, breastfeeding your infant is still an option. You may need to pay special attention to managing your diabetes during this time: Work with your doctor to keep on top of meeting your blood glucose goals while meeting your baby's nutritional needs.
- Watch your numbers. Breastfeeding can cause decreases in blood sugar, so you may need a small snack before or during nursing. You may also need to check your blood sugar levels more frequently until you get into a predictable breastfeeding routine.
- Adjust as needed. If you take insulin, and you plan to breastfeed right after you eat, you may need a slightly lower insulin dose for the meal. You may also need to adjust other diabetes medications-while most medications used to treat diabetes can be safely used during breastfeeding, it's important to check with your doctor first to make sure they are OK to continue taking.
- Stay hydrated. Your body uses fluids to create breast milk, so be sure to drink adequate water and other non-caffeinated fluids. This is especially important if your blood sugar is running high, making you urinate more frequently. Try to stay away from sugary drinks that may make fluctuating blood glucose levels harder to control.
- Know your needs. Although nursing can lower glucose levels, lack of sleep and the stress of having a newborn can raise them. Be aware of your needs, and how they change from day to day.
- Keep a snack handy. If you need a snack during breastfeeding, you don't want to interrupt your baby's feeding to get up and fix something. Better to be prepared with a snack when you sit down to nurse and bond with your little one.
- Think ahead. Have a sugar source, such as glucose tablets, within arm's reach when you breastfeed. That way, if you start to feel like you are having low blood sugar and get lightheaded, you won't risk your baby's safety by getting up.
- Stock a diaper-diabetes bag. Every new mom knows the value of a great diaper bag that has room for everything you need for outings with your newborn. Make sure the bag has space for your diabetes supplies too, including glucose meter, test strips, glucose tablets, ketone testing sticks, insulin syringes, extra pump supplies, and batteries.
(Breastfeeding and Diabetes: What's the Connection? ADA. http://diabetesstopshere.org/2012/08/28/breastfeeding-and-diabetes-whats-the-connection/)