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Ask an Expert: Breastfeeding and Type 1 Diabetes

Fan Question: I am a type 1 diabetic and EBF my 2-mo-old DD. Before and during pregnancy I had tight control of my blood sugar but now one minute my sugar is high and the next it’s low. Is high sugar bad for the baby? Should I not be breastfeeding at all? I want to do what’s best.

NANCY MOHRBACHER, IBCLC: As you know, type 1 diabetics don’t produce the hormone insulin, so they need daily insulin replacement to prevent their blood sugar from becoming dangerously high. Your blood sugar level doesn’t affect the amount of sugar in your milk. In fact, breastfeeding is the best thing you can do, because EBF reduces your baby’s risk of developing type 1 diabetes. As far as you’re concerned, breastfeeding increases insulin sensitivity, which is a plus. Most moms need less insulin while they’re breastfeeding. It may help to keep your blood sugar stable if you have a protein-and-carb snack each time you feed your DD, as blood sugar often dips about an hour later. When it’s time to wean, doing it as gradually as possible may help make maintaining blood-sugar control easier.
unnamedNancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC, FILCA is a board-certified lactation consultant in the Chicago area who has been helping breastfeeding families since 1982. Her books for professionals are used worldwide. Her books for parents include Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers, which she co-authored with Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, and her tiny problem-solving guide, Breastfeeding Solutions In 2013, Nancy released her Breastfeeding Solutions smartphone app (available for Android and iPhones) to give mothers a quick, go-everywhere source of breastfeeding help. Nancy speaks at events around the world.