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Breastfeeding offers many health benefits to mother and baby

The benefits of breastfeeding to mom and baby far outweigh the adjustments necessary for a successful breastfeeding experience.

Benefits for the breastfeeding mother

  • More rapid and sustained postpartum weight loss
  • Delayed ovulation
  • Enhanced HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • Decreased incidence of breast, uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancer
  • Decreased incidence of osteoporosis

An added benefit for the mother with diabetes who breastfeeds is lower blood glucose levels, resulting in decreased insulin requirements. Breastfeeding may also delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in women with gestational diabetes.

Health benefits for the breastfed baby

  • Protection against illness, infections, allergies, asthma, eczema and bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.
  • Improved dental health and oral development, as well as improved brain development and increased IQ levels in breastfed children.
  • Babies who are breastfed have been found to have a decreased incidence in some types of childhood cancer and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Infants who are breastfed for at least three months are less likely to develop type 1 diabetes compared with infants who are fed formula.
  • Breastfeeding may also reduce the risk of childhood obesity in infants of women with type 2 diabetes.
  • Women who are breastfed as infants have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Facts about breastfeeding

  • Colostrum, the first milk, is higher in protein than mature breast milk or infant formula. Since protein has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, early and frequent feedings are important for your baby. If your baby is unable to nurse, begin pumping your breasts as soon as possible. Any colostrum expressed should be saved and fed to your baby.
  • Prolactin, the hormone that controls milk production, is lower in women with diabetes. Frequent breastfeeding and/or pumping your breasts helps to raise prolactin levels.
  • Your milk may come in about a day later than usual. Early, frequent breastfeeding and/or pumping with a double electric breast pump can help to stimulate milk production.
  • Sudden drops in blood glucose levels can decrease milk production. Good glucose control is important to maintain adequate milk volume.
  • Because having diabetes puts you at increased risk for infections, early recognition and treatment of mastitis (breast infection) and candidiasis (thrush) is important.
  • You will need additional calories while breastfeeding. Caloric intake should be increased by approximately 300 calories per day. To prevent hypoglycemia, plan small snacks at each breastfeeding around the clock.
  • As your child begins to wean from breastfeeding, you will need to make changes in your diet and insulin to compensate for the rise in blood glucose levels that comes with the decrease in milk production. Gradual weaning can make diet and insulin adjustments easier.

For questions or assistance, please contact Breastfeeding Support Services at 605-322-4490.

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