Birth and Diabetes

Highs and Lows. Hormonal changes, emotional shifts, irregular sleep patterns, and fatigue may hide or change your symptoms of high or low blood glucose. You may find it hard to tell the difference between “after-baby” blues, such as unexplained crying or moodiness, and low or high blood glucose. Fatigue, feeling spacey, weakness, or forgetfulness can be caused by both high and low blood glucose and by lack of sleep. If you’re not sure, play it safe and check your blood glucose.

With a new baby depending on you, it’s critical to guard against hypoglycemia.  Test often;  if you feel hypoglycemia coming on, treat it right away, whether or not you can test.

Keep items such as glucose tablets, hard candy, or regular soda handy in several rooms.  Make sure that those around you know how to spot your signs of low blood glucose; teach them what you want them to do if you don’t seem like yourself. Keep a glucagon kit on hand.

If you have had hypoglycemia unawareness in the past, be vigilant not to let your blood glucose get too low when you are alone with your baby. Get help with middle-of-the-night feedings, or make it a habit to eat a snack then. Take care to test before you get into the car to drive. Don’t nap or sleep on an empty stomach. Remember that your best protection is still frequent blood glucose monitoring and regular snacks and meals.

Having a new baby can affect your diabetes care habits, especially if you have other children to care for. You may find that your baby’s unpredictable schedule and your own erratic sleep patterns make it difficult for you to eat or snack when you need to. Using multiple injections may make your life easier and give you more flexibility. Although it is tempting to put your infant’s needs before your own, taking care of yourself is important for both you and your baby.

The ideal food for your baby is your own breast milk. You will need about 300 additional calories per day while breastfeeding, so you may want to schedule another visit with your dietitian.

Your hunger level may change, and you may need some help trying to balance your meals and your baby’s meals with your insulin doses.

The extra energy your body uses to make breast milk can cause your blood glucose levels to become erratic. Throughout the time you breastfeed, continue checking your blood glucose level often. And make sure you have a source of fast-acting sugar,  such as glucose tablets or orange juice,  handy while breastfeeding. When your baby is ready to nurse during the day, eat your own snack or meal, plus a glass of water or low-fat milk, as you feed your infant. It helps to have the snack or meal portion ready so you don’t have to prepare your food while the baby is waiting to be fed. This provides your body with fluids and helps prevent a low blood glucose. During nighttime feedings, have a snack yourself. Otherwise, you might have a low blood glucose reaction, especially if you have been up several times in the night.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Robert M. Anderson, EdD
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Shereen Arent, JD
National Director of Legal Advocacy
American Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

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