Breastfeeding And Diabetes (Is It Okay To Breastfeed With Diabetes?)

Breastfeeding helps give your baby a good foundation for a healthier life. Besides the benefits of bonding with your newborn, breastmilk contains essential nutrients and antibodies that strengthen your baby’s immune system. Medical professionals encourage diabetic mothers to breastfeed for at least six months which is highly beneficial for your little one’s health.

Breastfed infants generally have a lower risk of developing type 1 diabetes and becoming overweight or obese later in life, typically associated with type 2 diabetes.

Breastfed infants are also less likely to have asthma, eczema, respiratory disease, ear infections, and other serious health issues.

Furthermore, breastfeeding can lower a mother’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and arthritis.

Breastfeeding may also help with post-pregnancy weight loss and improved recovery from childbirth.

Why breastfeeding is important for mothers with diabetes?

According to medical research, breastfeeding mothers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premenopausal breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding your baby is recommended as breast milk helps to protect infants from developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Although breastfeeding offers many benefits to both mother and child, diabetes can make breastfeeding more difficult by affecting milk supply and blood sugar levels.

But because there is insufficient data to allow the use of oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin remains the preferred antidiabetic treatment during lactation.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes

Although both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are chronic medical conditions that affect blood glucose levels, it is essential to note their differences.

An autoimmune reaction causes type 1 diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in childhood or young adulthood and is controlled with daily insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is related to lifestyle factors and family history, typically diagnosed in adults, and can be controlled by eating a proper diet and exercising regularly.

Many people with type 2 diabetes must take diabetes pills, insulin, or both. People with type 2 diabetes are usually overweight or suffer from obesity.

In contrast, people with type 1 diabetes may have an average or low body weight.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that may develop during pregnancy in women who do not already have diabetes and is diagnosed through a glucose tolerance test.

Gestational diabetes typically occurs during pregnancy when your body can not make enough insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas that allows blood sugar into your body’s cells for energy use.

Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar, affecting your pregnancy and your baby’s health.

Initially, gestational diabetes symptoms may be difficult to detect. Still, excessive thirst, sweating, and frequent urination may be noticed as it progresses.

A pregnant woman checks her blood sugar level.

Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes, which, if managed correctly, will ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

If you develop gestational diabetes, your baby will be at higher risk of:

  • Being very large (9 pounds or more), which can make delivery more difficult
  • Being born early can cause serious raspatory issues
  • Developing low blood sugar shortly after birth
  • Developing type 2 diabetes later in life
  • Stillborn

After your baby is born, your blood sugar levels will usually return to normal, but about 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

The risk of type 2 diabetes is lowered by reaching a healthy body weight after delivery.

If you develop gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, it is advisable to have your blood sugar tested 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born and then every 1 to 3 years to ensure your levels are normal.

Treatment for gestational diabetes

It is essential to go to all your prenatal appointments and follow your treatment plan, which includes the following:

  • Checking that your blood sugar level remains in a healthy range.
  • Following a healthy eating plan created by your doctor or dietitian.
  • Regular physical activity helps to lower your blood sugar and makes you more sensitive to insulin, so your body will not need as much. Check with your doctor about what physical activities are best suited to you.
  • Monitoring your baby’s growth and development.

If you cannot regulate your blood sugar level through healthy eating and being active, your doctor may prescribe insulin, metformin, or other medication.

How does diabetes affect my pregnancy?

Diabetes can cause health issues during pregnancy for mothers and their developing babies.

Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects and other health issues for your baby.

Diabetes can also cause severe complications for mothers, but proper health care before and during pregnancy can help prevent potential health problems.

To understand diabetes more efficiently, your body can generate insulin to convert sugars, starches, or carbohydrates into energy.

Your body may either make no or too little insulin, or it cannot use its insulin to change those sugars and starches into energy.

As a result, extra sugar builds up in the blood.

How to deal with diabetes when pregnant?

If you have diabetes and wish to have a child, you must maintain your health and monitor your blood sugar levels which should remain in the optimum range.

A diabetic pregnant woman is consulting with her doctor.

High blood glucose, also known as blood sugar, can harm your baby during the first weeks of pregnancy, at a time when you are blissfully unaware that you are pregnant.

This is why you should always be aware of your health status.

You also have a greater risk of developing preeclampsia when you develop high blood pressure and too much protein in your urine during the second half of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia can cause serious or life-threatening problems for you and your baby; giving birth is the only cure for preeclampsia.

If you have preeclampsia and are not yet 37 weeks into your pregnancy, your doctor may present you with other options to help your baby develop as much as possible before birth.

When you plan to become pregnant, your daily blood glucose targets may differ from your previous targets. It is best to ask your doctor which targets are right for you.

If you have diabetes and are already pregnant, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible to manage your diabetes.

By following your diabetes management plan, you can look forward to having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

How does this affect the baby?

A baby’s organs, such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and lungs, begin forming during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy.

High blood glucose levels during this early stage can increase the risk of birth defects, such as heart defects or brain or spine defects.

High blood glucose levels during pregnancy can also increase the chance that your baby will be born too early, weigh too much, or have respiratory problems or low blood glucose at birth.

The risk of having a miscarriage or a stillborn baby is also increased.

How can I breastfeed with diabetes?

Breastfeeding is considered the best form of nutrition for infants, and as a diabetic, if your blood glucose is controlled, then breastfeeding should not be a problem.

Insulin plays a role in milk production, and low blood sugar levels can affect your ability to produce milk, but controlling your levels will reduce the problem.

Mothers taking insulin may find that their insulin requirements are reduced while they are producing milk, but they should be aware of the signs of hypoglycemia.


Will the diabetes medication I take affect my baby?

Diabetic medication such as insulin and metformin should not directly affect your baby. In most cases, the medication you use during your pregnancy should be okay while nursing.

If you have type 1 diabetes, you should continue taking insulin. However, you might find that you need less while breastfeeding than you did before your pregnancy.

It is best to discuss your diabetes medication with your doctor.

Should I be aware of low blood sugar while breastfeeding?

Yes, milk production takes a lot of energy, and breast milk is loaded with lactose, a type of sugar.

When you nurse your baby, lactose leaves your body, and your blood sugar levels may dip by up to 25%, resulting in hypoglycemia.

You need to check your blood sugar more often.

It is generally a good idea to have a snack before nursing and to keep some fruit juice nearby while you breastfeed and sip lots of water to stay hydrated.


Being diabetic should not stop you from having children, but you should manage your diabetes more critically.

By taking good care of your health before pregnancy, you will be in a better position to manage your diabetes during pregnancy and go on to breastfeed your little one successfully. 

If you are not diabetic and are in good health, you will be in a better position to cope with pregnancy-related gestational diabetes should it develop.

Breastfeeding your little one is the best gift you can give.


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Hi! I'm Jennely. My hands and mind can't be still; neither can my three-year-old. So I'm either chasing him or my next project. I like to work smarter, not harder. This is why I write on topics that will help parents solve problems and enjoy precious moments with their little ones.

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