I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of three years old. I have had diabetes for the last 30 years of my life, and have always found that, whilst the condition can be an inconvenience at times, it has never really stopped me from doing anything I wanted to.
I have often found that news stories in relation to people with diabetes often show the downsides of diabetes rather than positive stories; therefore I wanted to give a positive story of being a Type 1 diabetic woman whom has given birth to two healthy children in a slightly different way to the general stories heard.
In 2004 I gave birth to my daughter at 38 weeks – in hospital, but without the need for the glucose/insulin drip which I had previously agreed with my obstetrician. I had a reasonably quick three and a half hours' labour, and my daughter weighed in at 7lbs and 7oz.
To get to this point was not easy and in order to control my sugar so that my HbA1c was within the recommended range meant I often had up to eight injections a day (two is my normal amount), test my blood glucose levels frequently and go for all the extra scans as expected. I was determined however that whilst this was hard work, the end result was worth it.
I did have some disagreements along the way with some medical professionals, but thankfully there was a diabetic consultant at my hospital who supported me and the way I intended to manage both my pregnancy and labour.
Following the birth of my daughter, I subsequently fell pregnant again nine months later. This time I was very keen to have a home birth, mainly because there had been no complications in my first pregnancy, and secondly I had been a diabetic for 27 years and knew my own condition better than anyone.
Having spoken to my obstetrician and community midwife there were some strong reservations, and it took me almost seven whole months of the pregnancy to get the home birth agreed. I do not want anyone to feel this was easy – it took a lot of hard work, mostly on my part and that of my midwife, and the home birth was only agreed two weeks before my due date.
In October 2005 I gave birth to my son at home at 40 weeks and two days. He weighed in at 8lbs, 10oz and was a perfectly healthy little boy, with blood glucose levels testing within the recommended range.
The labour itself was easy and less painful than my hospital birth as I was not on a syntocin drip, I tested my blood glucose levels every 15 minutes during labour, I ensured that I had a good lunch and regularly drank sips of orange juice and lucozade as required.
I was lucky in that my husband and I knew my condition well, my community midwife was also at the birth and we had full arrangements in place that if things did not progress well, or there were any complications, I would go to the hospital.
This was one of the best and hardest things I have ever done. It took a whole nine months of careful planning, tight blood glucose control, monitoring food intake, constantly testing my blood sugar levels and finding the right support for me.
A lot of consultants and midwifes can be opposed to a home birth and there is limited research on home births out there for diabetic women. I would like to add that besides the concern that I may be more 'high risk', my baby was delivered by a student midwife!
Home births aren't right for everyone, but I hope this article gives support to diabetic mums that not all diabetic pregnancies and births are traumatic: there are some positive stories that need to be told.