I cannot describe the disappointment I felt when I picked up the latest edition of Diabetes Vital and saw a picture of a woman with a baby bottle in her hand next to the caption, “Gestational Diabetes”. Women who have had diabetes during pregnancy need to be encouraged to breastfeed their newborns! Diabetes Vital is a quarterly physician-to-patient magazine that is distributed to physicians’ and diabetes educators’ offices nationwide. Why didn’t they post a photo of a mother breastfeeding her newborn infant? Talk about missed opportunities!!!
I was even more disappointed when I read the article and found absolutely no mention about how breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes in a mother who has had gestational diabetes. The stack of Diabetes Vital magazines that we received (two in our household since my husband and I are both Certified Diabetes Educators) went straight into the recycling bin. There is absolutely no way that we could hand out these magazines out to any of our diabetes clients (gestational or otherwise).
Children of women who have had diabetes during pregnancy inherit from their mother the risk of developing diabetes at some point in their lives. Research shows us that breastfeeding reduces the chance that the infant will ever develop diabetes. Research has also shown that women who have had gestational diabetes can reduce their own risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes through breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life and continued, following the addition of solid foods, until they are at least 12 months old. Despite this, less than one in three American women are still breastfeeding their babies at six months of age. One of the main reasons why more women do not breastfeed or stop early is because of lack of support from family, health professionals or society as a whole. We need to do all we can to promote breastfeeding at every opportunity that arises.
This would have been an excellent opportunity to make a positive impact on a topic that many women struggle with. Had they used a photo of a mother breastfeeding her child next to the caption, “Gestational Diabetes”, I would have framed the issue and placed it on the wall for all of my clients to see. It’s a shame that the editors of this magazine let such a tremendous opportunity slip past!