Maria Ramos-Roman, MD, associate professor of internal medicine
DALLAS – September 1, 2022 – Breastfeeding offers a wealth of benefits for both mothers and their babies. Although diabetes can complicate the process, it doesn’t stop mothers from giving their babies this wonderful start in life, according to endocrinologist Maria Ramos-Roman, MD, associate professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern.
Three common forms of diabetes are: Type 1, an autoimmune disease that typically develops in adolescence; type 2, a condition traditionally diagnosed in adults but also affecting younger individuals; and gestational diabetes that develops during pregnancy. About half of women who develop gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes can affect breastfeeding in a variety of ways, said Dr. Ramos novel. For example, it can increase the time before some mothers build up milk production. Breastfeeding can also alter maternal blood sugar patterns throughout the day. Mothers who need medical treatment for diabetes may need less medication to prevent a drop in blood sugar while breastfeeding.
To combat these issues, it is especially important for mothers with diabetes to meet with a lactation consultant soon after giving birth and learn techniques to get their breastfeeding journey off to the best possible start. Mothers with diabetes should continue to monitor blood sugar and discuss with their healthcare team how to adjust their medical management for diabetes during the postpartum period, said Dr. Ramos novel. Medications typically used to treat diabetes, such as insulin and metformin, are not harmful to breastfed babies and may be necessary for mothers to maintain adequate glycemic control. Likewise, sticking to a healthy diet can help stabilize blood sugar; Diets typically recommended for pregnancy are also good for diabetic mothers, she added.
dr Ramos-Roman shared these additional tips for breastfeeding with diabetes:
- Follow general recommendations to promote healthy breastfeeding, such as: For example, breastfeeding soon after birth, having lots of skin-to-skin time with the baby, and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Avoid the temptation to relax lifestyle changes made during pregnancy in order to stay healthy after pregnancy.
- Get advice from your doctor on how often to check your blood sugar and if your medication needs to be adjusted.
- Mothers who develop gestational diabetes should be tested for diabetes 1-3 months after delivery.
About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern, one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty is the recipient of six Nobel Prizes and includes 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 14 researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The full-time faculty of more than 2,900 employees is responsible for pioneering medical advances and is committed to rapidly translating science-based research into new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians serve more than 100,000 hospitalized patients and more than 360,000 emergency department cases in more than 80 specialties and serve nearly 4 million outpatient visits annually.