Can I Breast Feed My Baby If I Had Gestational Diabetes?

breastfeeding

breastfeeding (Photo credit: sdminor81)

Breastfeeding is one of the most important things that a mom has to do after giving birth to her baby. Milk coming from the mother’s breasts is rich in nutrients that can help the baby grow strong during his or her first months of life. However, mothers suffering from gestational diabetes during pregnancy often wonder whether it is safe for them to breastfeed their babies or not. Even though gestational diabetes stops right after pregnancy, mothers often worry about the possibility of passing their condition to their newborn babies. Hence, one of the dilemmas that they have is whether to breastfeed or not.

I breastfed both my children – first I pumped because they were preemies, but later breastfed at home and pumped to keep the supply up.  It is a very important part of taking care of a newborn or preemie, and I encourage you to breastfeed.

To Breastfeed or Not to Breastfeed?

The answer to the aforementioned question is pretty simple. If you want your baby to grow healthy, then you should breastfeed your baby. If you don’t want to breastfeed your baby, using formula is also acceptable, as whatever formula your doctor recommends will contain healthy nutrients to help your baby grow. Breastfeeding is best, especially if your child has allergies or is delivered early, but you have the choice.

Having GDM is not a hindrance to breastfeeding. It will not have any impact on your ability to breastfeed your child. In fact, breastfeeding is highly encouraged, if not sorely needed, by the newborn. A baby borne of a mother with GDM is at risk of developing hypoglycemia or low blood sugar after birth because of the pancreas’ continuous production of insulin as conditioned inside the womb of the mother. Hence, early breastfeeding within 30 minutes to one hour after birth is needed to maintain the normal blood glucose levels in your baby’s body. Moreover, because of the nutrients that can be found in breast milk, you are actually lowering the risk of you baby’s incurring diabetes later on in life.

How Important is Breastfeeding?

It is often said that breastfeeding is best for babies up to two years of age. That is because breast milk contains many nutrients that can be beneficial to your baby not just for the time being but also later in his or her life. Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect your baby against illnesses during his or her first few months of life. This prevents the baby from getting colds, gastroenteritis, and infections, in which he or she is very prone to because of the immature immune system that the baby has right after birth.

Allergies like eczema and asthma are also prevented by breastfeeding. Contrary to popular belief, breast milk can also help reduce the risk of diabetes, leukemia, and other types of cancer later in life, regardless whether the mom had gestational diabetes or not.

Breastfeeding also has a couple of advantages for the mother. Constant breastfeeding can help you lose the weight that you gained during your pregnancy. In fact, continuing breastfeeding beyond six months is a great way to naturally control your weight. It also has long-term benefits, such as reducing your risk of developing cancer and osteoporosis. Hence, breastfeeding is not only good for the baby, but also for the mother.

If you are worried about breastfeeding and gestational diabetes, learn more about gestational diabetes in general by signing up for our newsletter and getting great information to help you understand how your body works.

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