Diabetes and Breastfeeding (Part 1)

Disclaimers:

  1. I’m a huge fan of non-starving children. How you choose to feed your kid is up to you. After Bean was 8 months old, I combo fed with formula for daycare and breastfed at home. But I like breastfeeding and I’m still offering breastmilk to Bean (now 14 months old). I’m trying to throw as much information out there as possible, given that the PWDs have a unique set of challenges.
  2. I’m not a lactation consultant or medical professional. If you have more specific questions about your current situation, please consult one of these individuals. My suggestions below are based on advice I received as a new mom, the good ol’ internet, a couple books you can find in your library, and several other random sources. 

This post is going to be the first of several because it’s just a HUGE topic to cover.

Where to Start?

Congrats! You are pregnant and are looking forward to breastfeeding your new baby. Cool.

breastfeedingdiabetes

First, get the notion out of your head that if you have Type 1 diabetes, you can’t breastfeed. Or you’ll automatically have low milk supply, or have sugary milk, or [insert other discouraging misinformation.] There are plenty of women who have pre-existing diabetes and successfully breastfeed their children. If breastfeeding troubles arise, diabetes can be an easy scapegoat. It usually is in other situations – why make this an exception?

So where do you start now that you’ve made the decision to breastfeed?

  1. Find a network of support. Let’s be real – breastfeeding in the first several weeks of life can be, heh, difficult. (And that’s putting it lightly.) I probably would have quit breastfeeding cold turkey during week 5 if I didn’t find a network of women to help answer my questions or keep me entertained in the wee hours of the morning during growth spurts. This network can be an online forum, Facebook Group, an in-person support group for breastfeeding moms, anything… Just make sure you find something.
  2. Find a good Lactation Consultant. See if you hospital has a referral system or an in-house LC. See if they make house calls or can visit you in the hospital/birthing center soon after birth. Interview them before baby is born, if possible. Ask your mom friends or local area groups for recommendations. Ask a doula collective for recommendations. Make sure you are comfortable with her.
  3. Find a La Leche League chapter near you and go to their meetings. Yes, before baby is born. These chapters are usually run by volunteer LCs or just super savvy moms. LLL can be a little “preachy,” so if that’s not comforting to you, check with your hospital to see if they have a weekly support group for new moms. Bonus: going to a support group after the baby is born will get you out of the house with the baby for fresh air and adult conversation!
  4. Bookmark Kellymom and Infant Risk Center on your phone. These were my most searched websites when Bean was a newborn. Particularly if I just wanted to know if something was normal.
  5. Download Lactmed or the paid version, MommyMeds. Helpful when trying to figure out if that OTC drug or supplement is compatible with nursing. (These are the iTunes links.)
  6. Pick up The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Check it out at the library first, if you’d like. I preferred my own copy because spit up happens. I didn’t read this book cover to cover because the tone was a little too “lactivist” for me. (No, your kid will not have a lower IQ if you formula feed…) BUT, it was a good manual to have on hand for troubleshooting a problem. And the tearsheets in the back are helpful.
  7. Expect that your blood sugars will be crazy during those first several weeks. Between cluster feeding, growth spurts, figuring out your new insulin rates, and sleep deprivation, your days of super tight control from pregnancy will be long forgotten… for at least a little while. I’m pretty sure I went through 3 gallons of orange juice each week for two months. Breastfeeding will burn calories similar to running around the block a few times. Treat your food and insulin intake as such.
  8. Learn to treat a low with one hand. Just… trust me on this. Juice boxes are super handy. Practice now.

 Baby Gear To Consider

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