Pregnancy and type 1 diabetes – life hacks

pregnancy & type 1

So I’m just about to start my second trimester of my second pregnancy. This is an exciting and slightly scary time for any pregnant woman, but anyone with type 1 will know that this adds a whole load more complications and worries.

I’ve gone through a type 1 pregnancy before, so I’m proof that it can be done well and with a good support system everything should be fine and dandy!

I thought I’d share some life hacks, that I learnt from my first pregnancy and soon came flooding back to me this time around.

Firstly, if you are at that ‘thinking of becoming pregnant’ stage and your control isn’t below 6.5%, be prepared for a good few months of hospital appointments before you get the green light!

I was teetering on the 7% mark and it took 5 months to get me down to the golden hba1c number. This is of course, not taking in to account how long it may also take you to conceive. All quite frustrating, but totally necessary and worth the wait!

Secondly try not to stress. When I found out I was pregnant this time around I thought I would be prepared – as I’d done it all before. How wrong was I?! I totally freaked out and felt a huge amount of pressure and worry. I was so stressed about my blood sugars that I wasn’t sleeping and I caused them to rise for a few days. This is obviously not what you want…

I spoke to my diabetes nurse and she helped me with some great advice about setting temporary basals for my insulin pump and not setting them for longer than 2 hours – as in the first trimester you are very prone to hypos.

Thirdly if you don’t have a CGM and a pump already  – get them asap! I am finding pregnancy with a pump sooo much easier than when I didn’t have one, in my first pregnancy.

Omnipod 1

Read my post about insulin pumps and many of the general reasons for a pump can be used to explain why it’s also great in pregnancy. You just have so much more control over what you can do to alter your blood sugars and it’s really helped in managing the horrible night time (and day time, but they don’t bother me so much!) hypos you get in the first trimester. It also helps manage morning sickness (yuck)

Fourthly get some really good books. You’re going to spend a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms. You may find a level of patience you never knew you had. My husband comes to as many of the appointments as he can and he was crawling the walls at the last one. I was shrugging my shoulders and just carried on reading my magazine. You have to just deal with it, even though it is truly boring.

Fifth (ly?!) if you work, try not to stress about how much time you have to take off, due to all the extra appointments you have. It’s not your fault.

Doing this a second time around is harder in some ways. I have a 3 year old to look after this time. Gone are the lie ins and rest! But in a way it’s easier, because, even though all pregnancies are different, for some of it I know what to expect.

No. Six Don’t scare yourself with statistics and horror stories. I told myself I wouldn’t do this the second time around. I did. Wish I hadn’t. If you’re looking after yourself and controlling your blood sugar as best you can (much more easier said than done) then that’s all you can do. It is natural to worry when you’re pregnant – even without type 1! I’m very relieved to have reached the second trimester, but I’m still cautious.

I know that each phase along the way will help take the edge off the worry and even if things do go a little awry, it will probably still be ok. This was true, at least for me, when I went in to labour 6 weeks early with my first born. I had pre eclampsia, so this time I couldn’t blame the diabetes! My son and I both spent a couple of weeks in hospital. On different wards, which was horrible, he was in the special care baby unit in an incubator.

None of this information is meant to scare, as now he is a totally healthy and full of energy 3 year old. The point is, sometimes things happen out of your control, especially in pregnancy. All we can do is try to control our blood sugars!!

Now I’m in my second trimester, I’ll be watching for my blood sugars to hopefully stabilise and not have the hypos I’ve been dealing with. I am waiting on a CGM and one last piece of advice I’d give is to get one as early as possible. I got signed off for one when I was 8 weeks pregnant and I’m still waiting. I think it would have been really helpful to have this through my first trimester, but hey ho. It’ll be better late than never!

 

 

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Published by

Sarah Jordan

All singing, all dancing type 1 diabetic. Living in Cardiff with my beautiful son, daughter and husband. Deputy Regional Manager at the Royal College of Physicians. Twitter - @SarahSmjordan

2 thoughts on “Pregnancy and type 1 diabetes – life hacks”

  1. Just happen to be looking around and out jumps your blog and what I’m dealing with now, which is i get these lows and my body does not respond, then I see the number on the BG meter and that’s when my body gives me all the lovely response and tells me that hey wake up your low. I know that I’ve missed some mild lows cause I’m still here and my a1c should be around 7.0 and this last one was 5.8. I’ve been trying to get a CGM but no luck so far.

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    1. Hi John. Thanks for your comment. Yes it’s difficult, they are really strict about providing cgm’s. I was given a temporary one for a while and am still waiting for mine to come in. I’ve already been told that they will take it back after I’ve had the baby. I looked in to self funding and they are so expensive. Fingers crossed that things will change in the future.

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