11 things you should know if you have diabetes and are pregnant

11 important things I learned during my diabetic pregnancy

Diabetes has changed me in many ways, but mostly it has made me a stronger, more aware person. My name is Beth Moore-Glover, and I am a 39-year-old Type 2 diabetic. Throughout my adulthood I have struggled with hyperinsulinemia and then diabetes. As a result I lost half of all my pregnancies. I tried several methods to keep my blood sugars under control: weight loss of 127 pounds, oral medication, insulin, diet and exercise. For 10 years I was not able to hold on to a pregnancy. Last year when I discovered the virus I thought I couldn’t kick was instead a pregnancy, I went into panic mode.   

Upon confirming I was pregnant, my doctor immediately set up an appointment with an OB/GYN. At five weeks pregnant, I found myself then directed to maternal-fetal medicine specialists and was put in the hospital for six days to get my blood sugars under control.

Thomas Tabb, M.D., director of Norton Children’s Hospital Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists, explained, “When a woman’s diabetes is uncontrolled during pregnancy, there is a high rate of pregnancy loss but also a risk for excessive fetal growth, pre-term delivery, birth defects and cardiomyopathy.”  

He also said that studies have shown that a woman’s health at conception will affect the health of the baby when that child grows into an adult. This can increase the child’s risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity later in life.

I learned first-hand that it’s incredibly important to start early in pregnancy and manage diabetes. By week eight of my pregnancy, I was on an insulin pump and meeting with the diabetes educators at the Norton Children’s Hospital Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists office every other week. Through education, pump therapy and the support I received, I gave birth to a very healthy 6 pound, 15 ounce baby boy at 38 weeks and one day.

11 important things I learned during my diabetic pregnancy:

  1. How to control blood sugars at home
  2. How to eat three healthy meals and three healthy snacks, count carbohydrates, read food labels and control portion size
  3. How many times to check blood sugar levels each day
  4. When to call a member of my health care team
  5. How to increase my activity level and/or exercise safely during pregnancy
  6. How to manage stress
  7. About diabetes medication, if needed
  8. What an insulin pump is and how it can improve my blood sugar during and after pregnancy
  9. About continuous glucose monitoring
  10. What signs and symptoms to report to my health care team
  11. How to get help to stop smoking, if needed

Learning these things not only resulted in a very healthy baby but saved my life. With my pump, my last A1C was 4.6 and I have never had better control of my blood sugars.

Doctors and diabetes educators at Norton Children’s Hospital Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists have developed a program that includes pre-conception care (when possible), monitoring and treatment for women who are pregnant and have diabetes. This program includes one-on-one education with a nurse practitioner, certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian. The practice also offers insulin pump training and glucose sensors to better manage blood sugar levels.

“Hormonal changes and natural changes that occur overnight in someone with diabetes can make it hard to adjust insulin levels,” Dr. Tabb said. “When we look at the data from sensors we can evaluate glucose levels every few minutes and then adjust accordingly. The more consistent the blood sugars, the better it is for the baby.”

For more information about Norton Children’s Hospital Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists’ Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, call (502) 629-7181(866) 535-3178

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