I thought I’d start a series, so to speak, about Type 1 Diabetes and pregnancy specifically. There seems to be a lot of negative information surrounding it and I’d like to share my thoughts and tips on how to successfully gestate while managing the beets like a boss 😉
In the world of the beets, you have good endocrinologists and
ones you want to punch in the face every time you go in bad ones. Growing up, I had a semi punchable endo. He was obviously very informed and very knowledgable about my disease and how to treat it, a scholar if you will. However, I do not think that he was a people person. He was not the best with patients…probably because he was so frustrated with the ones (like me) who refused to recognize the severity of their disease and the importance of taking care of themselves. But I digress…
I remember him saying to me, “Do you want to have kids?” I answered nervously, “…yes?” To which he replied, “Well that’s never going to happen! You are doing permanent damage!” I think he was under the impression that scare tactics were effective. Well jokes on you buddy, you just sent me spiraling further in the wrong direction! Ha!
But seriously, let’s clear up a few misconceptions: First, it’s never too late to gain better control over your blood sugars. You can always make things better with better numbers. Second, having high blood sugars in the past, does not mean that you cannot have a baby and healthy numbers in the future. The past is the past, leave it there. And third, having Type 1 Diabetes does not equal inability to gestate. Seriously, it’s a condition that will mean you have a high risk pregnancy, but so are a whole lot of other conditions. OK? You can do it, and here are 5 tips to help you get ready:
1. Test, test, test: When in doubt, do a test! Before planning for my family I would say my A1c’s averaged around the 7.0 range. Not too shabby, but not great. When I started planning for a family I challenged myself to test a couple more times a day. I went from testing 4-5 times a day to 10-12. When my testing went up, my A1c went down! It was very motivating for me.
2. Get a CGM: If you’re able to, CGM’s can be invaluable for blood sugar control. While they do not replace testing, they provide you with something very important: trends! One blood sugar test can’t tell you whether you’re going up or down at that moment, but a CGM can! This is awesome for any Type 1, but especially valuable during pregnancy.
3. Talk to your doctor about your plans: It may seem silly, or you may feel grown up enough to make the decision on your own, but make sure your endocrinologist knows that you’re intending to get pregnant. Your doctor may want to do some blood work before you start trying to make sure everything looks in order, or he may need to make adjustments to your medications. If you’re like me and you have Hashimoto’s, you’ll need to make adjustments to your dosage as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Your doctor will need to facilitate that.
4. Exercise: This one may seem redundant, but it really is important! Try to maintain a healthy level of exercise in preparation for baby. Exercise has oodles of benefits and blood sugar stability is one of them. You can actually increase your insulin sensitivity by exercising, which means using less insulin. A healthy level of exercise can help prevent chasing highs and lows and keep things more steady, which is exactly what you want!
5. Routine, routine, routine: Make your diabetes control priority number 1. Increased testing, healthy eating habits, and regular exercise should be part of your routine. When you establish a routine, you have less room for surprises. When it comes to blood sugar levels, you don’t want surprises! The first few weeks you’re pregnant (and likely before you even know) your baby is already developing vital organs that need healthy blood sugar control to succeed. If you already have a routine established, you can feel a little more at ease once you see that positive!
Feel free to comment with any additional questions you may have, or anything you may want to see addressed in this series!