Breastfeeding and hypoglycemia: Will the medically-ignorant please just shut up? (and will the research community please step up?)

I have a blood-sugar control problem. I’m not diabetic. Yet. My fasting levels are normally good: 84-85. But I get a bit high if I eat more than twenty grams of carbohydrate in one go. In high school and college I had all the classic symptoms of hypoglycemia, but was never diagnosed. My aunt once measured my blood glucose at a whopping 33 (anything under 61 is considered hypo). For the first half of pregnancy my fasting sugars dropped into the 70s, and sometimes got down to 60or 61. Second half saw my post-meal sugars creeping upward–  150,160, 165– and I got control of it by lowering carbs and going for a long walk whenever the numbers got north of 130.

Since Piglet was born, though, it’s been a roller coaster. The lows keep getting lower and the highs keep getting higher (three days ago a modest serving of rice and lentils helped me reach a personal record high of 186). Today was scary. I woke up feeling crappy, so I checked my fasting level at 6am. It was 43: lowest reading I’ve gotten since my aunt waylaid me back in high school. It frightened me, so I downed two teaspoons of sugar and three bites of leftover beans from dinner. Forty-five minutes later I checked again: 33. Another spoonful of sugar got me up to 48. My husband went out to buy groceries and cooked me breakfast: I ate half an avocado and a tiny sweet potato. And shot up to 148 at one hour. An hour or so after that I was back down around 50.

All of this sucks. Anything under about 65 and I feel crappy– lightheaded, lethargic, and crabby. Once you get over 150, you’re flirting with incremental, irreversible organ damage. It won’t kill you right away, but it’ll sure make your retirement years hell.

Here’s the problem: there doesn’t appear to be ANY legit medical research on the connection between hypoglycemia and breastfeeding. None. If you search the keywords you come up with tons of stuff on hypoglycemic newborns, but nothing on hypoglycemic mothers. I’m hardly a unique case, though, and further searching turns up a lot of women like me, asking the same questions, i.e. What the heck is going on with my blood sugars? I think breastfeeding is exacerbating my hypoglycemia/making me hypoglycemic– is this possible? What do I do about it? Is this affecting my baby?

In the absence of any real medical input on these questions, a lot of rabid breastfeeding advocates feel the need to jump into the breach and claim there is no connection whatsoever between breastfeeding and hypoglycemia, that breastfeeding is the most natural, wonderful thing on the face of the earth and it is simply not possible for it to have any negative effects on mama or baby.

Which means I can’t find any real, useful, helpful information on the problem.

Rabid breastfeeding advocates: I know you mean well, but you’re full of shit. Back off. I am breastfeeding my child, exclusively. And I want to continue to do so. Denying that the problem even exists is not helpful.

Medical profession: I know there are a lot of medical problems out there. But it’d be nice if you could get to this one. Is my system dumping sugar into my milk supply? Could this be the cause of the colic episodes? Is there something else I should be doing to control it, apart from watching my carb intake and eating protein frequently? How do I keep my sugars from plummeting overnight when I’m not eating?

In the meantime, I guess I’ll lay off the sweet potatoes and rice, keep eating truckloads of protein, and hope for the best.

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