Pregnant and Diabetic: What I Learned, and What You Need to Know
Hi, I’m Nicole and I blog about beauty, fashion and my lifestyle in Houston, Texas at LipstickandBrunch.com. Starting this year, I’ll also be dabbling into topics about motherhood. I’m so happy to be able to be in this space talking to you about my life as the mom of my precious little boy named Nicolás Enrique. You see, grateful and lucky doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about this baby. I like to say he’s a miracle, and here’s why. I have type1 diabetes, and have been insulin dependent since the age of 5, so I thought I would never have a baby because of my fear of a high risk pregnancy.
There are so many things that can go wrong when you’re pregnant, imagine adding one more layer with my diabetes. I took many risks when I got pregnant, risks that would threaten my life and the wellbeing of the baby. Damn Google for letting me find everything that could go wrong with this pregnancy! Ha! Blood sugar spikes can cause deformities in babies as early as eight weeks into pregnancy… but I couldn’t let fear get in the way of growing our family, right?
Having a baby under these circumstances was a daunting thought. Luckily, I also married the best person I know, and he was all the support I needed to know I could do this. My diabetes and blood sugar levels would have to be in tip-top shape during the whole pregnancy; both mom and baby needed to be healthy. The nine months were full of doctors visits and more blood labs than you could imagine. I was even using five times more insulin than I usually do because your body becomes more resistant to insulin as your pregnancy progresses. Trust me, my insurance didn’t like that one bit!
The only way to get rid of my fear and beating the odds was to take care of myself. I found an OBGYN who I trusted and who is bilingual; she’s from Colombia, and I love her. I found a specialist who was worth the money and who was up to date with Beyonce’s pregnancy because the Queen Bee and I were pregnant at the same time. I had a nutritionist because I was sick for the whole nine months, so I had to learn what to eat to stop losing weight. I also had a diabetes consultant and an endocrinologist who prescribed me a continuous glucose monitor (a must when you’re pregnant!) to control the diabetes portion of the equation. If I was going to be pregnant, I was going to have the healthiest, most cautious control over it minimize any possibility of harming myself or my baby. I was going to do it right even if it was tedious, annoying and expensive.
The month finally arrived and on July 14, 2017 (lots of lucky sevens in his birthdate!) I delivered a healthy baby boy through c-section, which is how most type 1 diabetic mothers do it. Recovery was the toughest thing I’ve gone through; tougher than having to give myself 10 insulin shots a day back in the day.
Being a mother to Nicolás Enrique has completely changed my life for the better. Yes, life is chaotic yet beautiful. It is filled with baby cries but also irresistible smiles and giggles during bath time and while dressing him up. My schedule is finally coming together on my birthday month! I’m able to do my freelance writing from home, attend a weekly mommy breakfast with my baby (to get out of the house and feel like I can handle the baby in a public setting), and I occasionally dress up and go to a blogger party. It’s nice to feel like me again.
If you’re a type 1 diabetic mother and you’re reading this, I want to tell you something that nobody told me: You got this and you need to look after yourself before anyone else. Not only are you being a mother and taking care of your baby by catering to his every need, but you’re also trying to hustle by working from home or having a part- or full-time job. If you’re keeping your blood sugar in check and giving yourself insulin shots or using your insulin pump to feel great, that’s amazing. I’ve realized that by taking care of myself and feeling great, I’m a better mother. Thinking of myself first has become the hardest thing for me to do since becoming a mom.
I’ll share one more thing: ever since I had Nicolás Enrique, I can’t help but think that I beat the odds and that I won over this disease. I have this beautiful boy and I can’t stop looking at his sweet face. It tells me that everything I went through to have him in my arms was worth it.
Tips for Diabetic Moms-to-Be
- Before getting pregnant, visit your endocrinologist and make sure your A1C is low.
- Love your OBGYN and high risk pregnancy specialist; you’ll be seeing them A LOT!
- Get on a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) to control blood sugar levels closely as they become a lot less predictable and you lose your ability to just feel when your sugar is naturally high or low.
- Stay active. If you weren’t active before, start walking 30 minutes a day to help your insulin work better.
- Have a support system. The endless labs and appointments are grueling and sometimes bringing your mom, friend or hubby along makes it less tedious.
- Visit a dietitian or diabetes educator to understand how to best eat during a pregnancy when diabetic. It’s unhealthy to gain more than 20 pounds, and the proper mix of carbs, fats and proteins help to keep your sugar levels steady.
- Stay positive. Don’t Google everything that could go wrong. Follow instructions and expect the best. Diabetic blood sugar levels are affected by mood, so stay happy to stay healthy!
- Be prepared to use 3 to 5 times more insulin that you usually do. The placenta makes your body very insulin resistant.