Thirty seven insulin dependent pregnant women and ten women with gestational diabetes were studied by Peking Union Medical Hospital to determine if there was a connection between breast feeding and insulin needs.
The results showed that there was no difference between the insulin needs of the mothers before pregnancy, during pregnancy or currently. However, the women who breast fed their babies had a decreased need for insulin in the postpartum period.
Of the women with gestational diabetes, the three who did not breast feed required an additional four to seven days of insulin treatment. The seven who did breast feed had normal blood levels after delivery and required no further treatment.
The researchers suggest that, since serum glucose is the main substance used in making breast milk and more energy is needed in the production of milk, the women experienced lower glucose levels as a result.