Breastfeeding is one the best ways to nourish your baby, but women with diabetes can find it challenging.
A new website designed for Western Health patients by our clinicians and research partners at Deakin University aims to make it easier by providing advice tailored specifically to new mothers with type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Research shows that women with diabetes are less likely to breastfeed, or do so for a shorter period than other mothers.
One of the biggest barriers to breastfeeding for mothers with diabetes is keeping their blood glucose levels in check after they have had their baby.
Mother Siobhan Johnson, who has had type 1 diabetes for 13 years, breastfed her daughter.
"I actually received lots of discouraging comments from health professionals and loved ones, suggesting that I may not be able to breastfeed due to having diabetes, and concerns that I would suffer too many low blood sugar levels," Siobhan said.
"I definitely felt that information specific to breastfeeding with type 1 diabetes was lacking, and could contribute to a woman with type 1 diabetes choosing not to breastfeed."
Fortunately for Siobhan, she was able to breastfeed after seeking advice from a number of sources, including: a lactation consultant, online peer support group, local Maternal Child Health Nurses, her mother's group, family and the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
"I remember sitting at the kitchen table about five days after becoming a mum, and feeling so empowered by the fact that I was able to breastfeed my daughter."
She advises other mothers with diabetes to have regular contact with their endocrinologist and, or, diabetes educator, to ensure insulin doses are adjusted.
Research by Deakin University and Western Health, funded by the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA), indicates that Siobhan is not alone.
The team discovered women with pre-pregnancy diabetes did not think that the breastfeeding information available was relevant to them.
Women also said that they would prefer to get information from a website rather than printed brochures or smartphone apps.
The researchers also spoke to doctors, nurses and midwives, who agreed that there isn't much breastfeeding information available specifically for women with diabetes (especially type 2 diabetes), and it was often difficult to find the time to discuss breastfeeding with the women they care for during pregnancy.
As a result of these findings, the research team developed a website for women with pre-pregnancy diabetes who want to breastfeed.
The information on the website is based on international research and follows current diabetes and breastfeeding guidelines.
It covers everything from an introduction to breastfeeding to establishing and maintaining breastfeeding.
The website also includes fun optional 'quizzes' at the end of each section, as well as links to trustworthy online Australian information about breastfeeding and diabetes.
On the website, there is also a link to a private Facebook group about breastfeeding for women with pre-pregnancy diabetes.
To access the breastfeeding with diabetes website visit: http://breastfeedingwithdiabetes.com/