After your baby arrives, your body begins to recover from the hard work of pregnancy and delivery. Some new mothers have better blood glucose control in the first few weeks after delivery. For many, it's a period of odd blood glucose swings.
Not being able to predict how your body will act may leave you puzzled and upset. It is best to check your blood glucose levels very frequently following delivery to avoid either high or low blood glucose levels until you get an idea of how much insulin your body needs.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your doctor will decide which medication you should take after delivery. You will usually be able to go back to the same medications you were taking before pregnancy, as long as they were controlling your diabetes well. This may be modified if you are breastfeeding.
If you have gestational diabetes, there is a very good chance that your diabetes will go away immediately after the delivery. This is especially true if your diabetes was controlled with only a meal plan and exercise during pregnancy. You should continue to check your blood glucose levels for at least several days to make sure your diabetes is actually gone.
Women with a history of gestational diabetes frequently develop type 2 diabetes later, though, so check with your health care team about being checked for type 2 every 1–3 years.
New Patterns at Home
During the first weeks at home with baby, you are likely to be tired, stressed from lack of sleep, and off schedule. Odd sleep patterns increase the danger of napping through a snack or mealtime. Low blood glucose is a real danger. It's important for your baby's safety to avoid blood glucose reactions that could confuse you. For all of the above reasons, it is important to check your blood glucose often during this time. And your records of your blood glucose levels will help you and your team adjust your insulin dose.
With your baby's arrival, your focus turns to caring for your little one. But keep in mind that to take good care of your baby you need to take good care of yourself. Stick to your habits that helped you keep your blood glucose levels on target during pregnancy.
Tips to Help You Stay Healthy
- Watch for signs of depression and talk to your health care provider right away if you think you are experiencing symptoms.
- Eat healthy meals and get proper nutrition.
- Check your blood glucose levels often.
- Sleep whenever you can. Try to rest whenever your baby is sleeping or he or she are being cared for by someone else.
- Take a few minutes each day just for you: take a warm bath, read, or walk with a friend.
- Accept offers of help from friends and family.
- Ask for help.
Breastfeeding is good for women with diabetes, but it may make your blood glucose a little harder to predict. To help prevent low blood glucose levels due to breastfeeding, try these tips:
- Plan to have a snack before or during nursing
- Drink enough fluids (plan to sip a glass of water or a caffeine-free drink while nursing)
- Keep something to treat low blood glucose nearby when you nurse, so you don't have to stop a feeding to treat low blood glucose levels
Breastfeeding may also help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy, although you shouldn’t try to lose it too quickly. While you are breastfeeding, it is important that you get the right amounts of fluids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Working with your dietitian, you should be able to develop a meal plan that will allow you to achieve gradual weight loss and still be successful at breastfeeding.
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and use either insulin or oral blood glucose lowering-medications, it’s important to understand the safety of these medications while breastfeeding. Most medications used to treat diabetes can be safely used during breastfeeding. Check with your doctor to find out if your medications are OK to continue using while breastfeeding.
Losing Your Pregnancy Weight
Your long-term goal should be to achieve a healthy body weight, not to just lose the weight that you gained during pregnancy. You can find your healthy weight level by using our BMI calculator. A BMI over 30 is associated with increased long-term health risks including increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic medical conditions, as well as future infertility and miscarriage.
You should continue to follow your pregnancy meal plan or work with your dietitian to develop a new one. Discuss your weight loss goals with your health care team after delivery. Pre-pregnancy weight gain, weight gain during pregnancy, desirable weight, breastfeeding status, age, and exercise levels should all be assessed to help figure out an appropriate weight-loss schedule, usually between 1–2 pounds per week.