Breastfeeding among women with pre-existing diabetes is particularly important because it optimises neonatal outcomes. This study aimed to identify physical, social, psychological and cultural facilitators/barriers to the continuation of breastfeeding to 3 months post-birth among women with type 1 (T1DM) and type 2 (T2DM) diabetes.
Pregnant women were recruited from antenatal clinics at three health metropolitan services in Victoria. Data were collected via telephone interviews when the women were 30-34 weeks pregnant (demographic and reproductive factors, and women’s intention to breastfeed) and at 3 months post-birth (current breastfeeding, social and professional support).
Of the 102 pregnant women who were invited to participate, 79 (77.5%) women with either T1DM (51%) or T2DM (49%) participated in the study during pregnancy. Of these, 47 (59.5%) also completed telephone surveys at 3 months postpartum. At this point, 68.2% of women were still breastfeeding (exclusive or any). Controlling for other relevant variables, only intention to breastfeed to at least 3 months (assessed during pregnancy) was significantly associated with breastfeeding at 3 months (Adjusted Odds Ratio=20.490, 95% Confidence Intervals 20.182–20.802, p=0.017).
Intention to breastfeed is a known predictor of breastfeeding among women in general; these findings demonstrate that among women with T1DM and T2DM the importance of intention to breastfeed outweighs other potential predictors of breastfeeding at 3 months post-birth. These include health-related factors and the extent to which women feel supported by their health professionals, family and friends. These findings have implications for health care providers caring for women with T1DM and T2DM during pregnancy, given their potential to influence women’s intention for future breastfeeding. Integrating these findings into clinical practice will ensure the breastfeeding intentions of women with T1DM and T2DM are supported.