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Another Breastfeeding and Diabetes Update.

It's been almost 17 weeks since BSparl's birthday (yet it's not quite her four month mark yet - weirdness of weeks vs. months).  And even though I was planning to only breastfeed until she was about three months old, we're still going. 

Part of what's made the decision to continue breastfeeding easier is that I work from our home office.  There's no need for me to change out of my comfortable clothes (read: shorts and a t-shirt), I don't need to duck into a side room to use the breast pump, and I'm able to whip it out and feed her whenever I need to.  I am very grateful that I'm able to work from home at this point in BSparl's life.  I know this would have been a real challenge if I was working in-house at a company right now.

Another reason I want to continue is that the physical pain of breastfeeding is all but gone.  I'm not dreading the moment when she latches on (she's learned to be gentle), and since my milk production has leveled off to what's "needed" versus "here's EVERYTHING," I'm not experiencing that wicked pain of being really "full."  Also, on a diabetes tip, I'm not experiencing the same caliber of lows I was before.  Since I'm making less, my body isn't constantly processing and therefore isn't robbing me of my glucose stores. 

The third reason is that I am a huge fan of the convenience.  Every morning, I wake up and test my blood sugar first thing (yes, I've been sticking with it!) while Chris gets BSparl out of bed and changes her diaper.  And then I feed her.  She's total HappyTown in the morning (kicking her legs and grinning wildly) and I love the feeling of closeness in addition to the fact that we don't have to fumble around in the morning with a bottle.  (I also hate, hate cleaning out the bottles, so breastfeeding eliminates the need for doing more dishes.)

But it's not all rainbows and unicorns.  Breastfeeding does make it harder to have a more mobile schedule (i.e. having BSparl sleep over at her grandparents' houses, or letting me travel for work), so Chris and I, under the advisement of our pediatrician, have been supplementing with formula since just after the twelve week mark.  At first, I didn't have a lot of guilt about supplementing because it was only a bottle of formula here and there, but now I'm having sporadic feelings of guilt.

There are a LOT of mixed opinions about baby formula, diabetes notwithstanding.  But adding diabetes into the mix?  Whole new ballgame.  For instance, I've heard that you shouldn't give your infant milk-based formula.  That soy is the way to roll if you are a parent with type 1 diabetes.  Okay, but then I read many articles about the BSparl is chowing down on this stuff. potential dangers of soy formula, saying that it could harm the baby.  Ooooohkay ... and then I asked my doctors (mine and BSparl's) for their opinion, and they couldn't confirm or deny either theory.  

Leaving us to wonder what's best.  

"Breast is best," gloats the lactation specialist at the hospital.

Sure, breast is best and we did our ... best breast for as long as we could.  But now baby girl is almost four months old and due to missing feedings (thanks to low blood sugars, etc), traveling for work (when baby is with a grandparent overnight), and other Life Things, my milk production has slowed down.  BSparl needs more and more as she gets bigger and bigger, and I just can't physically keep up.  So while "breast may be best," we are continuing to explore different formulas.  

Right now, we are finishing up a can of Enfamil "Gentlease" formula, which was recommended by BSparl's pediatrician to help combat the wicked acid reflux our daughter had for a few weeks.  But my preference has been to go the organic route, if I can, so we're now switching over to the Earth's Best Organic formula.  Yes, the cow's milk one, not the soy one (even though we have both cow's milk and soy versions in the house right now).  While avoiding cow's milk has been suggested as best to help avoid type 1 diabetes, I am having a hard time giving my daughter soy formula when the jury appears to be out on the effects of that.  There is no definitive answer on what to do, and there's no guarantee that you're going to safely dodge the diabetes bullet.  I've mentioned it before, but I was breastfed and my brother and sister were not.  Yet I have type 1, and they are fine.  Genetics are a crap shoot.

So while we're still breastfeeding for the most part, the bottles are creeping in there.  And I'm okay with that.  It's about what works best for the family, and so far, this system is working out for us.


These posts are SO helpful, K, thank you! I plan to reference your archives heavily when the time comes for me! :)

I say whatever works for you & your family is what is best! No one can ever know what it's like to be you, or be BSparl or anyone else for that matter.

All the very best to you and your beautiful daughter (and Chris too of course).

I love that you use the term "whip it out" in this post.

And I second Lindsay's comment -- I hope to be combing through the preggo archives soon.

I am fully supportive of a moms decision whichever it is but for myself, formula scares me. I did formula feed my first and she is the child who is diabetic, my breastfed babies are not. This probably has no correlation but since there has been a study siting a possible link between cows milk formula and t1d I have guilt. Mommy guilt is an awful thing. However, I think if you are rolling with breastfeeding and it's working well then keep going! I found with every month that went by breastfeeding jut got easier and as baby gets older you are breastfeeding less often and it's not quite so limiting. Convenience is huge with breastfeeding, it's always there and ready.

As far as soy goes, supposedly American produced soy is full of phytoestrogens which are not good for baby girls especially. At the same time too many hormones in cow's milk is now linked to early onset of puberty. Anyone else afraid to eat, drink or serve anything?

I think you are doing a great job by weighing the pros and cons of all the options. :)

Living in Canada I often forget what a short maternity leave you get in the States!!

I had planned to breastfeed for the first year but continued nursing in the evenings etc. until my daughter was 2.5!!! I agree that whatever works for each individual family is what is best.

It took me a long time to get over the pressures I felt from everyone that thought I nursed too long but in the end weaning was a breeze because my daughter and I were ready.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo7L5KuTZkY I love reading your blog Kerri. Check out this video of my granddaughter Ella.

Good job, K! You are doing what you feel is best for your daughter. :)

I'll echo others who say "whatever works best for you--YOU are the mom."

I recently finished reading Diabetes Rising, and the author of that book--Dan Hurley--mentioned a specific type of formula that he and his wife opted to use (he is a T1, and a full section of the book is devoted to the cow's milk formula question). I can't remember what exactly the difference is in the formula they used, all I remember is that he said it was more expensive, and whatever the difference was addressed the possible cow's milk/formula issue.

Might be worth checking out if you're so inclined.

Hi Kerri,

I have had T1 for 25 years now. My son is 3 and enrolled in the TRIGR studied. If you have to go the formula route and are concerned about milk protein, you can try Nutramigen or Alimentum. The milk protein in both of these has been hydrolyzed down to the point of being a non-issue. Heads up, it's very expensive. I agree though, genetics is such a crap shoot!


I have to say, do what is best for you and your family....on the flip side, I breastfed all 3 of my kids, my middle one, the one with T1D was too hungry all the time, so I supplemented her earlier than the others, around the 3 month mark, she was lactose intolerant, so we gave her soy formula and to this day she still drinks soy milk. The other 2 kids supplemented witn Enfamil, and drink cow's milk now, they are the ones without diabetes....so Genetics are a crapshoot, best quote yet! Good luck

I breastfed for 18 months, and my daughter was diagnosed at 2.5 years old. I heard that breast feeding can be a problem because it doesn't supply enough vitamin D, and lack of vitamin D is a suspected cause of type 1. So, end result? It is a crapshoot and I don't think breast vs. bottle makes one bit of difference. Both have their pluses and minuses. The problem is you never know what would have happened if you had done things the other way, so don't second guess yourself. Maybe breast feeding contributed to my daughter's diabetes and maybe it didn't. If she had been exclusively bottle fed, maybe we would have prevented diabetes, and we'd be dealing with something else caused by bottle feeding. Maybe none of it has to do with the diabetes diagnosis and the cause was something else all together. Who knows? Do what you think is best and don't look back. xoxoxo

Kerri, you are just as "fine" and your brother and sister, you just have T1. FWIW, my T1 was breastfed til 5 months when he had a decided lack of interest. We supplemented both kids at the earliest we could (3 weeks?) because mommy does *not* do morning well. My hubs took the 5am feeding and got some quality time with the young 'uns while mommy got some quality sleep ;)

If you can keep breastfeeding and use a bottle when it's convenient for you, that's the best of both worlds. You get the closeness and cuddles of the breast but can go out for dinner with you hubby or pals. I did the same and it really gave me some needed freedom. It's funny but I'm kind of doing the same thing now: I give most of my daughter's injections but she can do it if her dad and I are out. Best of both worlds!

So many difficult decisions! I'm glad you have made peace with one. That's all we can do!

I love this post.

People are so judgmental about breast vs. formula... and I think some of those people don't understand that it's just not as simple a decision as "breast is best." Yes, it almost always is the best nutrition and immune system booster, but that doesn't mean it's always the right method for Baby and Mom. Some physical issues just can't be fixed (some women don't make enough milk, or a baby with developmental issues may have difficulty latching). This post is the perfect example of a family very carefully making an informed decision about what's best for Baby, rather than what's best according to the breast-nazis.

And it really touches home for me, because I'm recently diagnosed Type 1 and want a baby, and I feel so many guilt issues every time I consider something other than 100% breast-feeding in order to give my future children every health advantage I possibly can... even though I know myself and suspect that 100% breast-feeding will not be the best choice for me. (Though, I hope to be able to do breast plus bottled breastmilk... if my production is high enough.)

Keri, your blog has just been invaluable to me since diagnosis. THANK YOU!

I am a T1 diabetic and I am breastfeeding my baby (no supplements) and giving him Vitamin D vitamins. I guess I am trying to cover all my bases. I agree the whole genetic thing is a crap shoot sometimes. If you ask my mom if I was breastfed she would say yes, but I also received supplements. My sister (not a diabetic) was not breastfed. I am wondering of those of you who have type 1 children or who are diabetic were any of you exclusively breastfed (no supplementing ever). I am just curious and wishing there was more info. Man, mothers have enough to deal with!

The Earth's Best is what we used with Kiedis and intend to use with Tova if breastfeeding doesn't pan out again. It's the best for digestion and smell and texture out of all the different kinds of formula we tried -- and we tried A TON since Kiedis was so underweight for so long. Also, if it'd help, they sell it on Amazon in 4-container packages that you can get 15% off the price by doing their Subscribe and Save program. That's pretty much how we can afford to go organic for the kids.

Anyway, yay you for making whatever choice that works best for you and Chris and BSparl and putting it out there! :)

I talked to one of the TRIGR researchers for my book and he too recommended Nutramigen or Alimentum, based on what he was finding in the (still ongoing) TRIGR study. Have you tried those at all?

Huh. I'd never heard that about the soy...though I do know that soy STINKS so don't leave those burp clothes around. :D You'll do fine whichever you choose. You know that now, right? I mean, every other decade They are telling us something different about what is safe and what is not. People with milk intolerance have been using soy since it came out... right? And milk. Can They really pinpoint that MILK is a leading factor in diabetes through heredity? I'm guessing it's more random, and that for every rule there is an exception. *sigh*

Great job making sure your kid is full and satisfied and happy. ...You know, there are starving people in Ethiopia!

I work at Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center as a Registered Dietitian/Research Assistant. Our main study is the "Beginnings" study that is an observational, longitudinal pediatric study that is looking at the effects of diet on the growth and development of infants (starting at age 2 months) until the child is 6 years old. We have 3 groups we are looking at--milk based formula-fed, soy based formula-fed, and breast-fed. While we all know that "breast is best", we are actually not finding a whole lot of difference between the soy and milk formula groups. We are looking at nutritional/psychological/brain development as well as things like reproductive organ development. We are about halfway though recruitment for the study so there aren't any conclusive papers written yet, but they honestly aren't finding a big difference between the 2 formula groups (which is a good thing!). Hopefully some of this will put your mind at ease.....

Hi Kerri
You have been with this child for about 17 weeks now. I'm sure that by now you know when she is happy and when she likes something and when she doesn't. So, why not let her decide which she likes best and go with that. My oldest was raised on cows milk formula the youngest my wife breast fed her for 5 months then switched to cows milk formula. I was lactose intolerant as a kid so was given soy formula. Neither one of my kids have diabetes but I do. My neice was dx'd when she was 4 and was also lactose intolerant. I really don't think that the type of milk you use in the formula is going to override her genetics, not yours, but the genetics that both you and Chris gave her. You got to understand that we cannot second guess Mother Nature. So, whatever you decide, will be, I'm sure, the right decision.

Kerri, I was exclusively breastfed for 9mos and am T1. I breastfed my son for almost 4 months, with some supplementing toward the end because I only had 3 mos maternity leave (tried the pumping in the bathroom thing at lunch thing for a few weeks, but my production just slowed so much he was getting hardly any milk from me). We gave him cow's milk formula and our pediatrician never advised against it. He is only 2 and 1/2, so who knows what the future holds, but I just wanted to share my situation with you. You are lucky to be able to work from home at this time in her life. I loved the bonding of breastfeeding.

I think you are making great decisions on this subject! Breastfeeding is HARD. Breastfeeding with all the considerations that T1D gives is incredibly difficult. Great job!


Hello to all of the breastfeeding moms!!

I work from home too and because of that and all of the benefits of breastfeeding I decided to breastfeed my baby as long as I can produce enough milk for him.
My baby is 10 month and I love to breastfeed him.
you are so right about the fact that if you work from home you are enable to breastfeed easily and calmly and the outcome is you have a calm baby.

I just wanted to add my 2 cents on the formula. I think that there's always going to be a change in what the medical community recommends for baby's formula. I have 4 children and the recommendations changed for each child. It was very frustrating. Stick w/ your gut, b/c we are all just doing our best. For what it's worth, my son was breast fed then switched to regular formula, my first daughter...soy b/c of milk allergies, my second daughter...soy b/c the doc recommended it b/c of daughter one. Lastly, my third daughter was also started on soy and when we tried to put her on cow's milk at a year, she exhibited signs of allergy..and to this day, she still is at the age of 10. Also..my last daughter is type 1. Sooo who knows what it all means!

Genetics are indeed a crapshoot. My father had T1 diabetes. My siblings and I do not have diabetes, but I have a genetic disorder called congenital hyperinsulinism, or CHI (I'm the opposite of a diabetic in that my pancreas makes WAY too much insulin. I have to take medication to slow down insulin production). My parents were very worried about us developing T1 diabetes, so the fact that I have CHI is quite ironic. We were all breastfed to some degree, although I think I was breastfed the least because of the CHI.

The jury is still out on many things and all the studies in the world often cannot control for the many, many variables that we encounter both in our genetics and environment. The science just isn't there yet.

I'm no expert on breastfeeding or babies, but I do know that goat's milk is much more similar to human milk than is cow milk. This makes goat milk easier to digest. Goat milk also has fewer carbs, more calcium (which may or may not be a good thing), and more phosphorus (essential to brain development). I wonder if there are goat milk-based formulas that BSparl could benefit from. I am a type 1 who is going through the whole 'do I want to have my own child' questioning process and your blog has been so helpful, thought-provoking, and comforting. Thank you so much for everything and congratulations on creating such a beautiful family :-)

Hey, sometimes breast-fed only children get Type 1 diabetes, too. Here I am. Hi.

Made the exact same decision after the exact same agonizing (daughter has T1, son just one year old now). So, just two points I want to add: 1) taking Fenugreek (natural supplement you can get easily...Wholefoods and such) increased my milk supply a lot and kept me going for months longer than I think I would have on my own. 2) The issue with formula is not wether it's milk or soy, but HOW MUCH OVERALL protein is in it; so just as Rick commmented, you want hydrolyzed formula. But, I didn't know that when making our decision, went with Earth's Best and have been very happy.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 at age 31. I had my first child at age 32. I breastfed her exclusively for 13 months and then went to cows milk. She was diagnosed with Type 1 a few weeks before her 6th birthday. I now have a 5 month old. I breastfed her for 5 months and she is now on cows milk formula. So much for the breastfeeding...too soon to know if my little one will also get Type 1...praying she doesn't.

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