Guest Blog: Diabetics Have Healthy Babies All the Time
Thanks to Jessica Hickok for offering to guest post today (I'm still in Tucson with the fabulous Dr. Val). Jessica wrote a post about something that is definitely on the forefront of my diabetes mind, namely diabetes and motherhood. Jessica offers up her thoughts on her diabetes pregnancy and advice on managing all the emotions.
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Quoting a line from the movie “Steel Magnolias” for the title of this post seems only fitting when guest blogging about what it is like to have babies and type 1 diabetes.
You see, I am type 1 and currently 31 years old. When I was 22, my husband and I had been married 2 years and decided it was time to fulfill our dreams and have a baby. And the biggest piece of advice I can give to everyone who has seen the movie “Steel Magnolias” … it is important to remember that life does not always imitate art.
We did the planning and really worked hard on keeping my blood sugars regulated. We spoke to my doctor and with an HbA1c of 6.8% we were given the green light to have a baby. <insert cheesy, romantic interlude here>.
However, when I found out that I was pregnant with my first child, I was both elated and scared at the same time. I knew it was coming, but I immediately thought to myself “what if something goes wrong?”
When other PWDs ask me about my child-birth experiences, I feel compelled to share my story and the following advice of what you can expect or should consider:
1. Do not let diabetes steal your thunder.
Be happy for yourself, you’re having a baby! Just because you have a chronic condition, does not mean that you cannot enjoy the pregnancy and anticipation of motherhood. Nor can you let your dreams be ruled by fear or guilt of your disease. So you have to work a little harder at staying in a healthy glucose range, big deal, you’re going to do that anyway.
2. Be comfortable with your doctor.
Being diabetic automatically puts you in a high-risk category. However that doesn’t mean that you should lose sight of your basic rights as a patient. Find a doctor that is comfortable with your disease and one that is willing to work with your diabetes doctor or endocrinologist.
3. Expect that your baby might be big.
High sugars can spill over into the placenta feeding the baby and causing a large birth weight. Both of my boys were born approximately 3 weeks early and the first one weighed 9lbs 12oz and my second was 10lbs 14oz. No, I am not looking for a prize, but I do point that out just to prove that all of my complaining during pregnancy was justified.
4. You may have to have a c-section.
C-setions aren’t bad, they just sound scary. Yes, it will take you time to recover, but just think with your tightly controlled blood sugars that you had during pregnancy, your recovery time should go relatively quick. I had both of my babies delivered c-section and I wouldn’t trade it for the world…I did tell you that they were big babies, right?!
5. Expect that your sugar readings will roller coaster after having the baby.
While my hormones were bouncing around back into place the few weeks after having the baby, it caused my sugar readings bounce along with it.
6. Diabetics have healthy babies all the time.
Today, my first child is 8 years old and my second is 5 years old. They are bright, healthy and so-far diabetes free. (knock on wood). And the good news is that my story didn’t turn out at all like the one in Steel Magnolias.
I was lucky to have my insulin pump while I was pregnant. And because there have been so many advances in diabetes technology (enter CGM!), I know that it has only become better and easier for PWDs to have children.
The moment I held that precious newborn, my fears were all washed away. For those amazing first moments of holding my new baby, I was not diabetic … I was a mother.
Disclosure from Jessica: Please keep in mind that this post is written purely based on my opinion and my personal experiences with pregnancy and childbirth. I am not by any means a medical doctor. Nor do I share my story as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor about your plans to have children.
Editor's note: Thank you for posting today, Jessica! There are guest blogger spots I'm looking to fill, so if you'd like to guest blog on SUM, email me!