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Important Health Tips For New Moms With Diabetes

For women who have just embraced motherhood might feel that the responsibilities have increased. If a new mom is a diabetic, the responsibilities double as she has to take care of the infant and keep her glucose levels managed simultaneously.

Diabetes is a chronic condition characterised by insufficient production or dysfunction of insulin hormone. Pregnancy also involves significant changes in the levels of hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, leptin and many others.

Therefore, in new moms with diabetes, problems related to breastfeeding and milk production could be increased due to uncontrollable sugar levels along with disruption in the balance of other hormones, even after childbirth. These could lead to short and long-term complications in both the mother and the newborn. [1]

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In this article, we will discuss some of the health tips for new moms with diabetes. These tips will help them breastfeed their child without any complications and will also provide ways to take care of themselves during the process. Take a look.

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How Does Diabetes Affect New Moms?

There are two types of diabetes that can affect new moms: gestational and pre-gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition that develops during the pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born with proper management. Pre-gestational diabetes is a condition in which women have diabetes before pregnancy, either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes usually goes after childbirth and may not cause problems to new moms, however in women who are diabetic before, certain complications related to breastfeeding and milk production may arise. Also, in women who have uncontrolled gestational diabetes even after childbirth, the risk of certain complications are present.

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Some of the common complications that affect new moms with diabetes include:

  • Insufficient production of milk.
  • Delayed milk production after giving birth.
  • Birth of a baby with a less-developed sucking reflex, either due to preterm labour or preterm birth associated with high sugar levels.
  • Damage to pancreatic cells of mothers.
  • Risk of obesity in mothers.
  • Dysfunction of gastrointestinal microbes.
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Postpartum Care Tips For New Moms With Diabetes

1. Postpartum glucose tolerance testing

This is the first step to manage the long-term risks linked to women with diabetes or gestational diabetes mellitus. Keeping a note of the blood glucose levels may help maintain its safe levels and avoid complications that come with uncontrolled sugar levels. [2]

2. Other postpartum routine tests

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), new moms with diabetes should receive care for 6-12 weeks after childbirth. This includes tests related to body mass index, blood pressure and metabolic profile, all problems related to diabetes.

3. Initiate early breastfeeding

In diabetic new moms, breastfeeding may help lower the blood glucose levels instantly, preventing the risk of diabetes at a later stage. Some studies say that breastfeeding also helps balance the hormones (including insulin) and promote weight loss which is a major risk factor in diabetes. Though challenges such as insufficient milk production may arise in these women, however, with time, the condition will improve and nursing may become easier.

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4. Exercise

New moms should make certain lifestyle changes to keep their sugar levels in control. Exercise or any form of mild physical activities such as walking must be carried out. This will also help in toning the post-pregnancy body. Remember to perform mild activities and not rigorous exercises after the delivery. Exercise also helps overcome post-meal hyperglycemia and insulin resistance.

5. Low-glycemic and high-fibre diet

Some studies have shown that a low-glycemic diet followed by a high-fibre diet can reduce the risk of macrosomia, a condition in which babies are born larger than their average size. This diet type not only helps new moms pre-pregnancy, but also post-pregnancy by reducing their need for insulin. [3]

6. Timely sleep

Being a new mom could be exhausting due to the increase in responsibilities of both the household and the baby. This may sometimes lead to insufficient or untimely sleep. To mention, sleep deprivation or partial sleep even for one night can increase glucose levels. Therefore, try to get sufficient sleep. For that, you can ask your family members to look after the baby while you rest.

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7. Look for complications in the newborn

Complications such as respiratory distress syndrome, increased birth weight, congenital anomalies and neurodevelopmental problems are common in newborns born to diabetic mothers. Therefore, you must closely look for any signs of developmental issues, obesity or glucose intolerance in your baby and consult a medical practitioner sooner.

8. Consult doctor for change in medications

If a woman is diabetic before getting pregnant and on certain medications like metformin or insulin, after becoming a new mom, she should consult a medical expert for a change in the dosage. This is because these medications could be transferred to newborns while breastfeeding and may cause them certain complications. Experts say that if you were having diabetes medications for gestational diabetes, you could stop it after the delivery and after consulting a medical expert. [4]

9. Postpartum education

Educating new moms and their family members on how to manage the glucose levels and look after the newborn is a must. They should be provided with nutrition and diabetes education. The overall goal of the education should be to support the new moms live their life in a way which would be suitable for both the child and her own well-being. It also involves a caring relationship where she is understood, supported and encouraged. [5]

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10. Contraception counselling

New moms with diabetes are often recommended for contraception counselling before conception or during pregnancy. This is because they are more prone to certain adverse pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirth or congenital anomalies, says a study. Also, the counselling helps minimise other complications such as frequent pregnancies and miscarriage that comes with an unplanned pregnancy in women with diabetes. [6] This counselling is also important to plan for future pregnancies by managing diabetes.

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To Conclude

Pregnancy with diabetes could be a critical period in women's lives. With proper management and care, new moms can easily prevent complications in herself and her baby that comes post-delivery.

If you are a new mom with diabetes, make use of these tips; if you know someone with the condition, share these useful tips and help them stay healthy.

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Common FAQs

1. Can a diabetic mom have a healthy baby?

Yes, if the glucose level is well-controlled in pregnant women with diabetes, there is a low risk of any complications to the newborn baby. Also, with proper diabetes care and management, the risk of transference of the condition to newborns is also reduced.

2. What are the birth defects caused by mothers with diabetes?

Some of the common birth defects in infants born to diabetic mothers include preterm delivery, congenital anomalies, developmental disorders, perinatal asphyxia, hypoglycemia in infants and intellectual disability. However, these could be prevented with proper management of diabetes in mothers.

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3. Can diabetes be transferred from mother to child?

Many studies say that breastfeeding is not related to the transference of diabetes from the mother to the child. In fact, it helps lower the glucose levels in the mother. However, a child could be at increased risk of getting diabetes later in life if either of the parents is a diabetic due to certain genetic factors.

4. What are the warning signs of gestational diabetes?

Some of the warning signs of gestational diabetes include high sugar in the urine in around 24-28 weeks of gestation, fatigue, nausea, increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and skin infection.