I have received many messages and emails from women who are pregnant with diabetes. Pregnancy for most women is a happy, gleeful, carefree time. Happy, happy happy. However, if you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, it can be a nail-biter. I have received emails from women in sheer panic, full of fear and without confidence that they can do this.
I think it’s the culmination of other people’s little negative comments. They don’t know you’ve already heard it from (m.a.n.y others). They don’t know it’s like an avalanche.
Concerned, sad eyes from medical professionals. Panicked looks from friends. Perhaps fear and resistance from parents. “Have you seen Steel Magnolias?” “You shouldn’t have a baby!” “I don’t want you to die.” “You are a high risk pregnancy.” “Your baby can be stillborn.” “You are at increased risk for Downs.” “You are at increased risk for spinal problems or other birth defects.” “Diabetes and pregnancy is dangerous.” And so on.
My profusely flowering joy at finding out I was pregnant quickly shriveled up. Luckily my family and friends were cool, but I knew I had Steel Magnolias tucked in my mental pop culture files. My optimism was snuffed out like a smelly cigar at my initial visits with OB/GYNs and others.
My then-husband and I went to the OB/GYN visit very excited, expecting a scrapbook moment. Many friends were pregnant and they described these visits as such special experiences. For us, the doctor and nurse came in solemnly and spoke to us very directly and sternly. They recounted the risks. They shared horror stories. They waved death on a stick at me. Death wore a T-shirt that said “You have no business being pregnant diabetic.” Okay so maybe the last two things are stretching it, but you get the idea. We went home stressed and wondering if we made a huge mistake. This was repeated with the diabetes educator, the genetic counselor, dietician, eye doctor, and others.
We ended up dropping that OB and going with a group that specialized in high-risk pregnancies. I’m so glad we did because the high-risk doctors were actually very laid-back and even encouraged me to have more babies.
Having diabetes in pregnancy does carry risk. We are all different and each case is unique, but generally it has been found that with good medical care and tight control, we have the same chance for successful pregnancy than ladies without diabetes.
Tight control might seem like an impossible task, but I’ve seen women do it over and over again. I’ve seen women do it who have started pregnancy with an HbA1c of 13 or higher. I started with an A1c around 9 an ended up maintaining an A1c under 5 throughout my pregnancy. If I can do it, anybody can. Cliche I know…but true.
So if you have found this post in a panic, please take a deep breath. Medical knowledge has come a long way. You are not alone, and you can do this even if you find yourself pregnant unprepared and without great blood sugar control. You can do this.