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For women with type 1 diabetes

Blood glucose levels and breastfeeding

Your insulin requirements may be quite small in the first few days or so after birth, and you will still need to do frequent blood glucose monitoring so you can adjust your insulin doses. At this stage it is recommended to keep your blood glucose levels between 5 and 10mmol/L, not lower, to reduce the risk of hypos.

It can be difficult to keep blood glucose levels within the recommended range while breastfeeding, so contact your diabetes health professionals for support to adjust your insulin doses. Talk to your dietitian about your diet and nutritional needs for breastfeeding.

Your blood glucose levels may drop rapidly during and after breastfeeding, just like with any other physical activity, so be prepared to treat hypos while you are breastfeeding. Blood glucose levels can fall by 3–5mmol/L during a breastfeed, so it is important to have some hypo treatment within reach while you are breastfeeding.

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) or flash glucose monitoring (Flash GM) can be helpful to closely monitor your glucose levels at this time. The Australian Government provides access subsidised CGM and Flash GM devices through the NDSS to all women with type 1 diabetes. However, access to CGM and Flash GM products are full subsidised for women with type 1 diabetes who are actively planning pregnancy, pregnant or immediately post pregnancy. To be eligible for access, women with type 1 diabetes need to be assessed by an authorised health professional and meet certain criteria. Ask your diabetes in pregnancy team for more information or go to Access CGM and Flash GM.

To help manage blood glucose levels during breastfeeding, you may need to:

  • discuss strategies to prevent hypos with your health professionals
  • develop a routine for feeding your baby, so you can have your meals on time and reduce your risk of hypos
  • snack before or during breastfeeding (e.g. fruit, crackers, sandwich)
  • speak with your health professional about adjusting your insulin dose/pump rates
  • treat hypos as soon as you notice any symptoms
  • check your blood glucose after a feed to see how much your levels are falling, especially during the night
  • if you don’t have a support person at home, have your phone on hand in case you need assistance.

Diabetes Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country. We recognise their connection to land, waters, winds and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders, past and present. We are committed to improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by diabetes and those at risk.

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