Diabetes, PCOS: Increasing your Milk Supply
Are you one of the many moms struggling to make enough breast milk? Have you tried everything? Is it possible that there is something you and your doctor may not have considered?
There are many individuals that are diabetic, not diagnosed diabetic, or have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. All these conditions can affect your ability to make milk. If you have tried everything else to increase your milk supply and nothing is working, please consider trying these things. Here are 8 suggestions that can increase milk supply for diabetics and women with PCOS:
Keep your blood sugar stable.
Eat high proteins and stay away from sugars and simple carbohydrates. When our blood sugar levels are irregular, it stresses the body and can affect your hormonal balance. Hormones are crucial in milk production, and sometimes eating the right foods more often can make a big difference. This is especially the case in women with diabetes or poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. Some of my favorite easy and healthy foods to have on hand are: boiled eggs, nuts, jerky, greek yogurt (low sugar), protein drinks (Costco has one made by Premier Protein that has 30 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar. It actually tastes really good too and I feel full when I drink it!) Other recommended foods for those with insulin resistance include: garbanzo and kidney beans, brown rice, carob, and cinnamon (Marasco 2015).
Talk to your doctor about Metformin, which is a medication that helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and has been shown to help breastfeeding moms with insulin issues to increase their milk supply. Metformin improves the insulin receptor sensitivity thus helping with milk synthesis. (Bargiota 2012) It is also being used as a treatment during pregnancy and has been successful in reducing miscarriages, GD, pre-eclampsia and premature births (Glueck 2002, 2004). Myo-inositol can also be considered although no research has been done on the impact of lactation, but it should have the same effect as Metformin. Note: Metformin can deplete B-12
Increase your magnesium.
Magnesium has been proven to improve insulin resistance (Bindlish 2014). This suggestion is most helpful to moms with PCOS as their condition is an insulin resistance instead of an insulin deficiency. Some foods that are rich in magnesium include bananas, broccoli, figs, artichokes, raspberries, avocados, nuts and fish. Many of us are magnesium deficient which can cause other health problems too. You can also consider talking to your doctor about adding a magnesium supplement.
Chromium and Gymnema
Talk to your Doctor about supplementing with Chromium and Gymnema. Both of these nutrients have been shown to help with insulin resistance (Bindlish 2014).
Choose the right galactagogues.
Take galactagogues that are best for those with diabetes or PCOS: moringa, goat’s rue, milk thistle, nettle leaf, coriander seed, and dandelion. These galactagogues have anti-diabetic properties and can often help. The best form and most effective way of taking galactagogues are in a tincture. If you have a hard time with strong tastes, consider it in pill form. The least effective form is a tea—you have to drink a lot of tea to see any benefits. Here’s a link to research studies that show the benefits of moringa through the company Go-lacta.
These next two suggestions are helpful for all breastfeeding moms, and are things I often remind clients during our lactation visits. They can have a huge impact, especially during the first few weeks.
Skin to skin contact with your baby helps to increase the happy love hormone, oxytocin. This alone can help increase your supply. This also allows the baby to nurse more often and more stimulation equals more milk. If necessary, have what is called a babymoon. You and your baby stay in bed for a couple of days and allow the baby to nurse as much as they would like. Infant Massage can also be a great way to increase your oxytocin levels. It also helps to relax you and the baby which in turn can sometimes improve breastfeeding.
Massage your breasts while you breastfeed to help remove as much milk as possible. The more milk you remove, the more your body will make for the next feeding.
This last suggestion is something to plan to do for your next baby. It’s especially important for those with diabetes or PCOS, but can be done by all moms before their little one arrives.
Early stimulation of lactation is recommended and has been proven to increase the amount of colostrum available to the newborn along with milk coming in earlier (Forster 2011; Singh 2009). When you are 38 weeks you can start expressing colostrum and freezing it to give to your baby. This early stimulation helps to wake up the breast and let it know to start making more colostrum. This can also decrease the chance of a baby having blood sugar issues and from getting jaundice as it helps to provide the baby with additional colostrum you can give them that you have frozen and the higher amount that your breast now making because of the earlier stimulation.
Read more about antenatal expression here.
If baby still doesn’t seem to be getting enough, please seek help from a lactation consultant and/or physician. Sometimes with these conditions, supplementation may be necessary regardless of intervention. Never feel like you failed—and remember that any amount of breastmilk is valuable to your baby. By figuring out why you have a low supply you may be able to make a huge turnaround and successfully breastfeed your baby. If your condition happens to be a blood sugar issue, these suggestions likely will help.
For another great blog post with some additional suggestions, click HERE.
Baby Bonds is a Boise-based company that serves mothers with lactation support, postpartum doula care, and teaches infant massage. If you’re interested in learning more, you can find our contact information here.