After the birth with type 1 or 2 diabetes

You will need to make changes to your medication and monitor your glucose levels carefully after you’ve had your baby.

Your care after the birth

You and your baby should stay in hospital for at least 24 hours after the birth. This is so your healthcare team can check that your baby has stable glucose levels and is feeding well.

After your pregnancy, you will go back to having your usual appointments for your diabetes care.

It will be harder now that you have a baby to look after, but now is the time to take extra care of yourself. Try to eat well and stay active, but also give yourself time to rest, relax and keep your stress levels as low as possible.

This will help you manage your diabetes, which is important for your long-term health and if you want to have another baby.

Find out more about the long-term effects of diabetes after pregnancy.

Your medication after birth

Your body will need less insulin to control your glucose after your baby is born. If you were using insulin during your pregnancy, you should reduce (or even stop) the amount you are taking straight away after the birth. Your healthcare team can help with this. After that, you need to continue to check your glucose levels regularly.

If you changed any medications for diabetes complications (such as high blood pressure) before you got pregnant, don’t start taking your usual medication yet. Check with your healthcare team that they are safe to take while you’re breastfeeding first. If you have type 2 diabetes and have been taking metformin, you can carry on taking it.  

Skin-to-skin (also known as kangaroo care)

Skin-to-skin means having your baby on you, their naked skin next to yours with a blanket over both of you for warmth. You should be able to do this straight after the baby has been born, even if you have had a caesarean section.

Most women are able to have skin-to-skin contact with the baby just after they are born, and you should be able to keep your baby with you unless there is a medical reason they need to be admitted into intensive or special care.

Having skin-to-skin contact with your baby can help you (and your partner) bond with your baby.

Find out more about your baby after giving birth.

Breastfeeding after the birth

"After I'd had my daughter and had started to breastfeed, I was struggling to manage my glucose so I rang up my own diabetes specialist nurse and she gave me advice over the phone."
Zoe

You should start feeding your baby as soon as possible after birth (within 30 minutes), and then every 2 to 3 hours, to help their glucose stay at a safe level.

Colostrum

Colostrum is the first breast milk that your body makes. This is very thick and yellow, and it contains all the nutrients your baby needs in the first few days after birth. Because their stomach is so small, your baby will only need a small amount.

If you were able to collect colostrum in the third trimester this can be used to help stabilise your baby's glucose levels. Find out more.

Hypoglycaemia

You are more likely to have hypoglycaemia after giving birth, especially if you are breastfeeding. Try to keep food nearby in case you need it before or after feeding your baby. You will need to adapt your insulin doses – your diabetes team will help you with this.

Find out more about feeding your baby after birth with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Managing your glucose levels with a new baby

Many women with diabetes find it very difficult to manage their glucose levels after they have a baby. Newborn babies sleep a lot (it can be up to 18 hours a day), but your baby will have their own pattern of waking and sleeping.

Whatever this pattern is, it’s unlikely to fit in with yours. Newborns don’t know the difference between night and day, and it’s very normal for babies to wake up regularly. Like all new mums, you’ll probably have a lot of sleepless nights and feel tired a lot of the time.

This can make it harder to remember to prioritise yourself. But it’s important to try and stick to a routine. Your healthcare team can support you with this and help you adjust.

"Always remember to sort yourself first as long as your baby is safe. I found a few times that when I injected, my son cried – so I dealt with him and then forgot to eat and had a hypo."
Megan

Find out more about what you can do to cope with sleepless nights.  

Looking after yourself

Having a baby can turn your world upside down, especially if it is your first baby.

"Through the pregnancy you’re trying to really, really look after your diabetes and keep your control very tight. But then afterwards, you go back to just being a normal diabetic, and it’s really hard to motivate yourself to really keep going. You feel like you want a break."
Laura

You are so busy learning how to care for your baby that it’s very easy to forget about yourself. But if you have a long-term condition like diabetes, this is important because you are at risk of health complications in the future.

Find out more about the long-term effects of diabetes after pregnancy.

Your mental health

"After my baby was born, I began to suffer with anxiety relating to complications with my diabetes. I didn't tell anyone about it for a while. But as soon as I plucked up the confidence to talk to someone, there was lots of support available."
Maria

You will have a lot on your plate right now. Pregnancy and childbirth can be an emotional experience, even if it’s been an uncomplicated pregnancy. But if you have a long-term condition like diabetes too, this can cause extra stress. It can take some time to recover from this, physically and emotionally.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may help to talk to someone, such as your GP or diabetes healthcare team. You won’t be judged for how you feel. Up to 1 in 5 women develop mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. Low mood, anxiety and depression are common, so you are not alone if you need extra help.

Find out more about type 1 and 2 diabetes in pregnancy and your emotional health.

"Being pregnant and diabetic can be hard work but there is so much help available. I'd go to a clinic every fortnight which gave me the encouragement that I needed to get my blood glucose control even better."
Hazel

 
 

Also in this section

More sections on labour and birth with type 1 or 2 diabetes

Sources

Sue Macdonald, Gail Johnson, Mayes’ Midwifery. Edinburgh: Baillir̈e Tindall Elsevier, 2017)

NICE (2015). Diabetes in pregnancy: management from preconception to the postnatal period. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng3

NHS Choices. Helping your baby to sleep https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/getting-baby-to-sleep/ (Page last reviewed: 02/05/2018. Next review due: 02/05/2021)

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (February 2017) Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/information/maternalmental-healthwomens-voices.pdf

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    Last reviewed on August 3rd, 2020. Next review date August 3rd, 2023.

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