Pregnancy Comes in all Shapes and Sizes: Diabetes & Pregnancy with Kimberly from OddHogg
Thank you so much to Kimberly for sharing her experience of having Type 1 diabetes and having a baby. Having a complicated pregnancy can sometimes affect your pregnancy and birth choices. Sometimes it can take away choice. Kim tells us all about how she managed with diabetes and how pregnancy can affect your sugar control. There are many types of diabetes and Kim gives a great explanation of what Type 1 diabetes is here.
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Please tell us a little bit about your family?
I am Kim, a twenty something from Aberdeen in Scotland. I live here with my husband and our son, little Piglet who is 1 year old. I am a stay at home mum and still very much winging it!
Did you have pre existing diabetes or was diabetes detected in your pregnancy?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on the 25th March 2013, when I was 23 years old. It was a real shock to say the least! In June 2014 I started using an insulin pump to give me greater control of my insulin doses and blood sugars.
I fell pregnant with Piglet in the summer of 2015. Although I had been living with diabetes for over 2 years at that point it was still scary knowing that being pregnant was about to change my medical routine!
If you had pre existing diabetes how did pregnancy (if it did) change how you controlled your blood sugar levels?
The main difference in the first trimester for me was an increased number of hypos (low blood sugar episodes). My body was working hard on establishing a little life and it really affected my blood sugars. Thankfully I was able to use my insulin pump to reduce insulin doses and ride it out.
I started having a phone call with my diabetes specialist nurse every 3 weeks. These calls were to check that I was coping on my own and to offer advice where needed. The beauty of technology meant that I can download my insulin pump data at home and they can access it at the hospital. If we weren’t able to do that I would have had to go in to the hospital to transfer data face to face.
When pregnant my blood glucose targets really tightened. Prolonged periods of high blood sugar can be harmful to a baby so I had to make sure I took my insulin early and always carb counted. Although I had been doing that for 2 years, it was with a renewed focus for sure!
Did you feel that you received adequate specialist care and advice during your pregnancy?
Personally I did. I have always been very independent with my care and so I didn’t want much interference with what I was used to doing.
I saw the antenatal team for an ultrasound and review of the baby’s development every 4 weeks and when I had extra questions I would ask then.
Did you diabetes affect your birth choices? If so how?
Absolutely. I would have loved a water birth, but I was put on a sliding scale of insulin and attached to various drips, so a water birth was out of the question.
I would also have loved to be on my feet and active, but I was stuck on a bed. It wasn’t what I wanted but I knew upfront that it was going to be that way so it wasn’t a surprise.
Please share a brief account of your birth experience.
I was booked to be induced at 38 weeks, however I went into labour spontaneously at 36 weeks. I didn’t progress very well and my waters had broken, so I was given drugs to speed things along. The whole time my husband was checking my blood sugars once an hour for me. I had to remove my pump to they could attach me to a sliding scale and take control of my insulin.
There was no break in the contractions so I was given an epidural to give me some relief. When the time came to push Piglet’s heart rate was dropping and it was evident he was in some distress. The decision was made to use forceps to get him out quickly. Unfortunately he was not breathing and was taken straight away to be helped by the doctors. All was ok in the end though, and I saw him again 10 minutes later for our first cuddle.
Did the baby suffer any complications following birth such as low blood sugars?
Piglet didn’t suffer with low blood sugars, but he was a very sick baby at birth. He had trouble breathing and spent time in the neonatal unit receiving oxygen.
It is hard to say what caused it. It could have simply been because he was premature. It could have been because there were 22 hours between my waters breaking and his birth, so an infection could have been to blame. Or it could have been my diabetes.
I have read reports which indicate a link between diabetes and lung development in babies. I try not to dwell on the “what ifs” though. He is here and he is healthy, and I couldn’t change anything even if I had wanted to.
How has your diabetes been since you had your baby?
After Piglet was born it took me a little time to get back into my routine. His time in neonatal was stressful, which affects blood sugars. As does breastfeeding. After about 8 weeks I was back on track and have been doing great ever since!
What is your best piece of advice to someone else with diabetes in pregnancy?
Ask for help if you need it. I am guilty of pushing away the medical team and wanting to do it myself – but if you’re unsure then ask them. No one knows your diabetes better that you, but they can certainly give an outsider’s point of view and it could really help you.