Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes in which a woman becomes diabetic during the second half of her pregnancy. Studies have shown that children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at a greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes as they get older. Studies have also shown that children of mothers with gestational diabetes, especially if they were big babies (weighing more than 3.7 Kg at birth) have a 50 percent chance of being severely overweight by the age of 8. And being overweight is one of the very important risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. But, there is no need to despair. Something as natural and as simple as breastfeeding can help reduce these risks.
A study conducted by the American Diabetes Association, that has been quoted in various online health forums, has observed more than three hundred children of mothers who had gestational diabetes found that breastfeeding for longer than three months may reduce the possibility of childhood obesity by as much as 50 percent. Most doctors recommend breastfeeding as the best method of feeding for the first year of a child’s life or longer even if the mother did not suffer from gestational diabetes.
Dr. Alka Lal, Delhi based medical practitioner says, “All babies, regardless of the type of delivery, should be given early and exclusive breast feeding up to 6 months of age. In case of gestational diabetes, early breast feeding within half hour is advocated and to be repeated at 3 to 4 hourly intervals thereafter to minimise hypoglycemia and jaundice.”
Breastfeeding is also of great benefit to the mother. It is observed that breastfeeding can lower the risk of ovarian cancer, some types of breast cancer, keep weight under control and can help mothers with gestational diabetes lower blood sugar levels after giving birth.