My top tips for a healthy diabetic pregnancy – by Louise
Pregnancy and the thought of bringing a new life into this world can be scary – particularly when managing your diabetes.
Often a patient’s main concern centers around the difficulties of actual conception, rather than how to stay healthy during the pregnancy itself.
But at NEEDS (North East Essex Diabetes Service), we support patients through all stages of their lives. NEEDS was formed 4 years ago as a result of a contract change within the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group). We provide specialist diabetes care and support GP practices in our area. We run regular structured education for those with diabetes and education packages for healthcare professionals to update and improve their skills, as well as specialist clinics held locally to those who need to attend.
Louise – a NEEDS patient who has Type 2 diabetes – was initially concerned that her diabetes would affect her ability to have children. She is now pregnant with her second child and offers her advice on how to stay fit and well during pregnancy.
Planning and being prepared for your pregnancy is something I can’t recommend highly enough. Obviously this isn’t always possible, but having a healthy relationship with your diabetes before falling pregnant will make it easier for you to adapt to the changes you will face.
When I fell pregnant with my first child I had a number of worries and wondered how my diabetes would affect this process. There is a lot of stuff online that scares you even more, but after speaking to a specialist midwife, I felt reassured at every stage of the process.
Adjust your lifestyle
You will find yourself getting used to checking your blood 3-4 times a day, which will be increasingly important in monitoring you and your baby’s health. I recommend using various placings, such as alternating with different fingers to avoid soreness.
It is also likely that your insulin dosage will increase as your body has more of a demand for insulin. This will help manage your blood glucose levels and ensure that your baby is not growing too much (a common problem with diabetic mums to be).
I had a regular appointment with my diabetes team about every 4 weeks and also had to adjust my diet to reflect my new circumstances.
The first time I was pregnant I looked at the diabetes recipe books I had for ideas. I adjusted the amount of pasta and rice I was eating, used vegetables to bulk out my meals as I have always had a large appetite so reducing my amounts was hard, but adding veg to my meals really helped. I found a variety of low sugar snacks to have in-between meals like fruit, veg sticks, go-ahead bars. I found that by the end of my first pregnancy I could only eat one slice of toast for breakfast, but then was able to have a snack an hour later.
The second time round, my sugar levels were high a lot earlier in my pregnancy so had to adjust my diet a lot earlier. I have found that crumpets are better for my sugar levels rather than toast and cereal for breakfast. Sandwiches or bagels hare usually fine for lunch, but I adjusted my insulin to suit what I was eating.
Get a pill box and keep a diary
With so many different tablets to take (vitamins, aspirin, diabetic tablets) it can be easy to forget what you have taken, so using a pill box can help you to keep track.
A diary will also allow you to track changes in your blood glucose levels, behaviours and various symptoms. This will not only help you to stay in control of your pregnancy, but is also useful to share with the specialist team during any appointments.
Diabetes doesn’t have to be a problem
Having experienced a diabetic pregnancy already, I am fully aware of the dangers of being pregnant with diabetes. By planning ahead, asking the right questions and being prepared for change, your diabetes doesn’t have to be a problem.
Individual advice on a one-to-one basis with a specialist midwife is available. Speak to your GP practice for a referral to your local diabetes service, or if you live in North East Essex contact NEEDS direct or through your GP.
Call our Helpline for specialist advice on all aspects of living with diabetes