Breastfeeding and Low Blood Sugar

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Pregnancy Tracker: 5 weeks postpartum

    Size of the Baby: 9 1/2 pounds... we think!

    Biggest Obstacle: Keeping blood sugars in range consistently


    Since Sienna's birth, my diabetes management has often taken a backseat to caring for our newborn baby. I'm still testing often, but I'm not as aggressive with my blood glucose management as I was during pregnancy. This turns out to be a good thing because I've discovered that breastfeeding and tending to the baby often drop my blood sugar. There are several other factors that are also contributing to erratic blood sugars.


    First of all, I'm primarily pumping breast milk for Sienna. After one week of nursing her, my nipples were cracked, sore, and bleeding! The pain was pretty intense, but then I'd just been through childbirth, so relatively it wasn't that bad. After seeing several lactation consultants (all of whom couldn't quite tell me why Sienna looked to be latched on correctly while causing trauma to my nipples) we decided to pump and give her breast milk through finger feeding and eventually bottles.

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    So, I basically pump each time Sienna eats, approximately 8 to 12 times per day. Since breastfeeding or pumping occurs so many times each day, the blood sugar lowering result is pretty much in effect all the time. I've had lows of 29 mg/dl and 39 mg/dl over the past few weeks! Luckily I feel my lows quite well, but still those are scary numbers. Snacking is important for keeping my blood sugars up and nourishing my body so it can keep up the breast milk production. I've been snacking on protein bars, bananas with peanut butter, almonds, and yogurt with granola mixed in.


    I'm also noticing my blood sugar going low as I run around the house trying to get things done while Sienna naps or when Dennis is feeding her. Getting the laundry done, food prepped, pumping breast milk, and generally making sure all of her needs are met keeps me very busy. Sometimes I feel my blood sugar dropping, but I figure I can get a few more things done before checking my glucose level and stopping to snack. Other times, I'll be sitting on the couch with a sleeping baby on my lap and know I should test and eat. I hate to bother her when she's so cozy, but it has to be done.


    My blood sugars are not always low, however. Sometimes I over compensate for the potentiality of a low and end up with a high blood sugar. Especially overnight when I under-bolus for nighttime snacks. I know I'll be up every three hours or so to feed Sienna, so the last thing I want is to have my sleep further interrupted by a low blood sugar.


    I've had another new, unexpected aspect to my blood sugar maintenance. I've had several instances where my meter has reported a blood glucose level much higher than I expected. Upon retesting a couple times, I learned that the initial test was off by a lot. For instance, today I tested and saw 305 mg/dl. Not trusting that result, I retested twice and got 112 mg/dl and 104 mg/dl. In this case, I had been eating a Luna bar with my fingers and had some sticky, sugary substance on my finger. However, I've noticed this happen other times with no food concoction to blame. I think that when breast milk is on my hands, it also messes with the test. Breast milk does have sugar in it, so that makes sense. I have to be extra sure that my hands are clean before I test. This is tricky when I try to fit in blood sugar tests between tending to Sienna's needs.

Published On: February 14, 2008