Why Diabetes May Be Linked to a Low Milk Supply for New Moms

Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump
Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

New research indicates that the factors that lead to diabetes, such as issues with insulin metabolism, contribute to low milk supply in new moms, according to a study from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. 

A total of 561 women were studied who sought help for breastfeeding problems at the Cincinnati Children’s Center for Breastfeeding Medicine, and women who had a low milk supply were 2.5 times more likely to have had gestational diabetes compared with the others whose babies had trouble latching on to the breast.

Gestational diabetes is when a woman develops diabetes during pregnancy only, defined as as glucose intolerance that occurs when pregnancy hormones affect how the body makes or uses insulin, a hormone that converts sugar in food into energy the body uses.

Gestational diabetes occurs for two reasons: Your body produces less insulin during pregnancy, or your body can’t use insulin effectively, but both result in high blood-sugar levels. It affects up to about 10 percent of all pregnancies.

“We need to better understand how we can identify mothers at risk for low milk supply and how best to support them in meeting their breastfeeding goals,” says lead author of the study Sarah Riddle, MD, a pediatrician at the Center for Breastfeeding Medicine. “We also need to develop targeted therapies to support lactation success in women with a history of glucose intolerance.”

If you think you have gestational diabetes (think: frequent urination and excessive thirst, among other factors), consult with your doctor first about a treatment and possible diet counseling and blood-sugar monitoring.

Did you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and if so, did you have a low milk supply?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Gestational Diabetes 101

How can diabetes affect my fertility?

4 Breastfeeding Myths — Busted!