July 08, 2003
permalink forumla for newborns to get their blood sugars up

Last week my obstetrician informed me that I would need a paediatrician at the birth due to the fact that babies of diabetic mums are often hypoglycemic. I knew this already from reading Jo Costa and Allison Nankervis's fantastic book, Pregnancy and Diabetes.

She went over the fact that most babies of diabetic mums need monitoring in a Special Care Nursery after they are born. She said if the baby was premature it would be put on an intravenous glucose drip and if not, it would probably be fed with formula to get it's blood sugars up.

Hmm, I'd been doing some reading and thought it was best if the baby could be started on breast milk ASAP. I wasn't completely sure but thought it might be harder to breastfeed them if they'd become used to the bottle in hospital and also although it's still controversial, a number of studies have indicated that a protein in cow's milk might cause type 1 diabetes in some susceptible babies.

She reassured me that I'd get a cuddle with the baby after the birth and they would put the baby on the breast to see how it would go breastfeeding. But she said often they didn't always feed well. I guess a lot of them are induced or caesared out at 38 weeks which wouldn't help.

Anyway, I went on to say 'couldn't I have a couple of litres of breast milk ready to go for the baby's hypo? Wouldn't this be as good? Not sure if I could do it but the wonderful midwife from my health fun suggested I might try it. (*NB early breastmilk, colostrum, is produced in very small amounts, so a couple of litres was a bit ambitious in retrospect :-) My obstetrician said yes the breast milk would be as good, but she thought I had a lot on my plate and didn't want me exhausted and stressed out trying to produce colostrum. Didn't want me to end up with sore nipples! Arg!

She said the baby comes out into a cold environment. It's trying to keep warm, it's trying to get energy. Having some formula for food is a nice, comforting, relatively easy thing to do. ***

I thought this was fair enough, but I'm going to run it all by a lactation consultant that I'm going to see in a few weeks to see what she thinks.

If I'm not too stressed out and tired from everything else that's going on I think I'll give "harvesting the colostrum" a go as my partner so sweetly puts it, before the baby's born! (expressing my own breastmilk for bub before the birth so he or she can have this to boost blood sugars instead of formula)

Stay tuned and I'll let you know how I go :-)

** Grrrr, as it turns out, a lot of things can get in your road as a type one diabetic trying to breastfeed her new baby. So if you are really keen to breastfeed, as I was, I recommend seeing a lactation consultant beforehand, expressing colostrum before the birth if you can to take in with you to hospital so that this can be used instead of formula if bub's sugar levels need a boost, having a good, breastfeeding-friendly paediatrician on your team, and if your bub is separated from you after the birth, get all the help uou can with expressing your milk at least every three hours. I joined the Australian Breastfeeding Association and went to their fortnightly meetings when my baby was born. They were a wonderful source of support and friendship.

*** Sure, a nurturing approach might be a warm bottle for a bub just born, but as long as your baby is healthy, a lovely warm cuddle skin to skin with mum (regardless of caesar or natural birth) and lots of time to cuddle, and nuzzle on mum's boob, is surely an even better way of keeping bub warm, cosy and safe. Obviously if bub is having trouble, one way or the other, intervention is needed, but it was my experience that different medical professionals could operate very differently. And for me having people on board that supported my desire to breastfeed and to have as natural a post birth experience as possible (whilst still making sure my baby was well and had high enough blood sugars) made all the diffference. See my later posts for more information.

Posted by M.A. at July 08, 2003 10:19 PM


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