Being pregnant with Type 1 diabetes can be difficult. While many women with Type 1 diabetes can have healthy pregnancies, and healthy babies, being pregnant can require lots of careful planning and hard work. Four Type 1 mums share their experiences of being pregnant with us.
Tamsin Williams, from Cornwall was diagnosed eight years ago with Type 1 diabetes. Now 43, she is expecting her third child but it is her first pregnancy with the condition. When she was first diagnosed Tamsin admits she wasn’t very good at looking after herself, but since becoming pregnant she has worked much harder to manage her diabetes.
“It has been challenging but becoming pregnant made me take better care of myself. I'm 32 weeks pregnant now and doing well. I'm quite proud of what I've achieved being pregnant and I feel like I’ve proved to myself that I can manage my condition when I put my mind to it. I will definitely keep this up once my baby girl arrives.”
Sophie Bye from Leeds was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1992. Now 28, she is 34 weeks pregnant, but despite a lifetime of careful self-management, dealing with diabetes has proven to be much harder.
“I’ve struggled since day one with this pregnancy,” she says. “It’s been a day in, day out battle.” I had to go on maternity leave early as I found managing the diabetes so intense. I’m now on four times as much insulin and I’m still testing my blood 10 to 15 times a day, as it changes that quickly. I had no idea how hard it would be – not from my GP or the diabetes team at hospital.”
Sophie’s diabetes team have worked with her antenatal team, but she still feels that she hasn’t been given enough support on issues such as what impact hypos have.
Counselling support has been provided too but a lack of knowledge on the specifics of managing a pregnancy with diabetes means Sophie has found it of limited help. Instead, Sophie has turned to other pregnant women with diabetes online to share her concerns including the prospect of having a big baby and being induced early.
“I needed someone to call up so I could say I’m having a tough time to someone who’s been there and done it before, someone who can talk about it,” she says.
Nicola Rae from Stirling, Scotland was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was five years old. She became pregnant with her son just over two years ago when she was 28.
“When I became pregnant, I became obsessed with the risk of having a hypo. I had lost my hypo awareness and for me, testing every 15 minutes gave me piece of mind as there was nothing I didn’t know about and nothing that could happen to me. But I know it was over the top and if I had my time again, I wouldn’t be so obsessive about testing.
My advice to other women is know your diabetes. Know what’s normal for you so then you can spot when something is wrong and don’t stress too much about it. I learnt a lot about managing my condition from being pregnant. My blood glucose levels are better now than they ever were before and I am better at looking after myself as I am motivated now I have my son, Samuel, who needs me. I found breastfeeding and managing diabetes afterwards even more difficult than the pregnancy. Especially during the first few days when there was no routine. But now I have a happy and healthy two year old son, it makes it all worthwhile. I would do it all again tomorrow to know that I can continue to watch him grow up.”
32 year-old Amy Turner from Norwich was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 11 years ago. When she decided she wanted to have a baby, she went to the diabetes centre at her hospital and over five months, they helped her get her blood glucose levels to where they needed to be so she could start trying to conceive.
“It was really hard work being pregnant and having Type 1 diabetes but I did really well and managed to keep perfect levels throughout the pregnancy by reducing my carbohydrate intake and closely monitoring my blood sugar levels. My advice to other women with Type 1 diabetes who are planning to get pregnant is to link up with a diabetes team at your local hospital and develop a good relationship with someone there. That was really key for me. Knowing there was support and advice at the other end of the phone whenever I needed it.”
Amy had a baby boy, Cooper, who is now four and a half months old.