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Diabetes and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby and is best infant health and development.Breast milk provides ongoing vital nutrients to protect your baby from illness. In addition, there are benefits for mothers who have gestational or Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months, no formula or baby food unless a medical necessity, and continued breastfeeding for at least 12 months or longer if the mother and baby still enjoy the experience.Breastfeeding is best for your and baby for the following reasons.

The benefits for baby are:

  • Lowers the risk of diabetes and childhood obesity when older
  • Antibodies that help protect baby against ear, respiratory, and gastrointestinal infections.
  • The right proportion of protein, fat and carbohydrates your baby needs for growth and development
  • Lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Lowers the risk of childhood cancers, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and allergies, such as eczema and asthma
  • Better brain development and higher I.Q. scores
  • Better jaw and tooth development
  • Less constipation, diarrhea and gas

The benefits for the mother are:

  • Decreased insulin requirements for most women (type 1 and type 2).
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes later for those with gestational diabetes – especially if you reach ideal body weight and exercise most days of the week
  • Lowers the risk of breast, ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancers
  • Lowers risk of osteoporosis
  • Promotes weight loss after pregnancy
  • Less money than paying for formula
  • No preparation, heating, clean-up or worry about spoiled formula. Mother’s milk is always ready, warm, and convenient and germ free.
  • Less bleeding after birth with a quicker return of the uterus to normal size
  • More relaxed due to the release of the hormone oxytocin during breastfeeding
  • Increased emotional pleasure that helps with maternal/infant bonding.

For more information, take the breastfeeding class at University Hospital: (513) 584-BABY (2229). If you have questions about breastfeeding or want to rent/purchase a good quality breast pump, please call: (513) 584-5256.

Tips for Breastfeeding Moms Taking Insulin

  • Continue to eat a carbohydrate distribution meal plan at least an extra 500 calories each day
  • Eat a meal or snack before taking a nap and before or during breastfeeding
  • Eat 3 meals and 3 or more snacks every day
  • Choose foods from each food group every day
  • Include 3 or more low-fat or non-fat servings from the dairy group every day
  • Drink to satisfy thirst only. Excess fluids have no benefit on making breast milk
  • Limit coffee, tea, and other beverages with caffeine
  • Keep extra portions of foods in the freezer for future use and do not ignore help from family and friends to help prepare meals
  • Continue to check your blood sugar 4-7 times each day.
  • Check your blood sugar before you breastfeed and before you go to sleep
  • Check your blood sugars after you breastfeed to help you learn how breastfeeding affects blood sugars

Report any signs or symptoms of a breast infection (mastitis) to your healthcare provider.

  • Symptoms may include breasts that are red, feel sore with fever or flu-type symptoms
  • Getting mastitis does not increase with diabetes, but if you develop any type of infection, your blood sugars will be harder to control
  • If you have a breast infection, check your blood sugars regularly (every 2-4 hours)
  • Your health care provider may prescribe medicine (antibiotic) to treat the breast infection
  • Your baby can continue to breastfeed on the affected breast

Contact Your Healthcare Provider:

  • Your meal plan and medication (insulin regimen) will need to change in the beginning stages of breastfeeding, during the baby’s growth spurts and as infant demands on mom change.

American Academy of Pediatrics - breastfeeding information.Please visit the AAP website at

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