Like many women, I too was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my pregnancies. This was not unfamiliar to me as it ran in my family, but to many it can come as a total and shocking surprise.
About 5-9% of pregnant women nationwide develop high blood sugar levels even though they didn’t have diabetes before pregnancy. This condition, drastically raises a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. If left untreated, blood sugar levels can soar and cause a host of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.
A recent National Institute of Health (NIH) study was tasked to answer the question of the effect of breastfeeding on the development of type 2 diabetes in women with a history of gestational diabetes. This study determined that women who exclusively breastfed or mostly breastfed were about half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those who didn’t breastfeed. The amount of time that she breastfed also effected the likelihood that she would or would not get type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding beyond 5 months lowered the risk by more than one half. Notably, differences in weight loss, which affects type 2 diabetes risk, didn’t account for these risk differences.
Scientists believe that there are good biological reasons why breastfeeding may protect against diabetes. For example, it is known to boost hormones which control blood insulin levels and lower blood sugar. It can also help new mothers lose pregnancy weight.
So breast is definitely best for all around good health for mom and of course baby as well!