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Women's Health: Healthy women can skip snacks during breastfeeding

Advice to eat applies mainly to diabetic moms and could promote weight gain in others, researcher says

Women are often advised to snack while breastfeeding to fend off low blood sugar, but a new study suggests that’s not always necessary.

Dr. Rhonda Bentley-Lewis, an instructor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, says the advice applies mainly to women with diabetes, and could promote unwanted weight gain among healthy women.

She and her colleagues studied nine healthy women, average age 32 years, who had no history of diabetes and were exclusively breastfeeding their babies. The researchers found no differences in blood sugar levels before or after breastfeeding.

Because of the study’s small size, Bentley-Lewis says further research is needed to confirm the findings, but she adds that the results suggest healthy women might be better off avoiding snacks while breastfeeding — especially if the increased calories lead to weight gain.

“We know that there are data suggesting that lactating can promote weight loss or at least weight maintenance during lactation, so if (women are) increasing their calories because they’re lactating, that sort of negates this benefit that they could see in response to lactation.”