The Maternal Canvas
MY LIFE WITH TYPE 1 DIABETES
How old were you when you were first diagnosed with T1D?
I was seven years old.
What pre-conception advise did you take before getting pregnant and were your pregnancies planned?
Both pregnancies were planned. I had talked to my endocrinologist before getting pregnant, and she recommended getting my Hba1c to 6.0% or under BEFORE getting pregnant. (IFCC unit of 41.2mmol/L)
What were the misconceptions you received from people when they found out you had Type 1 Diabetes?
I think a lot of people don't know the risks of a diabetic pregnancy. Many people have heard about gestational diabetes, but a T1D pregnancy is a little different. People are always concerned about if I can eat something as a T1D.
How did you manage your carbohydrates during pregnancy? Did you have to cut down completely or was it easy for you to change what you were eating?
I was very strict about counting my carbs and entering everything I ate into my pump for accurate insulin dosages. As my pregnancy progressed and insulin resistance increased, I really cut back on the amount of carbs I ate.
What type of fluids did you take during your pregnancy that didn't increase your blood sugars? I drank a lot of water during my pregnancies, especially ice water because I had summer babies! I also drank a cup or two of regular coffee a day or diet soda, both of which didn't raise my blood sugars.
MY MEDICATION REGIME
What was your medication regime prior to delivery and did it change drastically post-delivery? By the end of my pregnancy, I was taking a hefty dose of insulin to keep my blood sugars stable. Immediately after delivery, I cut the dosage to less than it was even pre-pregnancy because I was breastfeeding. How did you deal with hypoglycaemia in pregnancy and what is your advice for women who have recurrent hypoglycaemia levels overnight and during the day? Hypoglycemia affected me most during my first trimester. Having my CGM made a huge difference in knowing where my blood sugar was and where it was heading. I always had juice and glucose tablets on hand. Having a small snack with protein before bed helped keep my blood sugars stable overnight. I think most important to know is that your insulin needs will change constantly during your pregnancy, so meeting with your endocrinologist and being ready to make changes is important.
What type of delivery did you have and was this expected?
I was induced with my first at 39 weeks, which I expected. After 25 hours of labor, my son wasn't tolerating contractions well, so it was decided to do a c-section, which I expected would happen. My second delivery was a scheduled c-section.
TECHNOLOGY AND DIABETES
Do you feel that diabetes supplies/glucometers and machines are becoming more advanced and are suitable for living or do they still need to be improved?
I am impressed with how far technology has come since I was diagnosed. I got my first continuous glucose monitor (CGM) with my first pregnancy and it has been life changing. I don't think I could have gone through a pregnancy without it. The same with my insulin pump. There's always room for improvement, but my CGM and insulin pump allowed me to have the best Hba1c in my diabetic life.
MY MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM
What are your expectations from healthcare professionals who are caring for you?
Obviously being T1D experts and listening to me on a personal level. I want to be considered part of my care team. Everyone on my medical team during both pregnancies were great to work with and gave me a lot of autonomy when it came to managing my T1D.
MY EXERCISE REGIME
How do you manage your Hba1c and what are your regular levels?
The best way I've found to manage my blood sugars is moderate exercise, sticking to a low-carb diet, and making sure I'm inputting the correct carb count into my insulin pump. Right now, I'm working to get my Hba1c closer to 6.0%.
How do you manage heavy exercise and blood sugar levels?
I recently tried a strenuous exercise program and found that my blood sugars would drop low during the workout, and then spike very high for several hours after. It was difficult to manage and make insulin corrections, so I decided that it was too strenuous to do me any good. I've decided moderate exercise is what is best for my blood sugars.
Sugar-Free Mom to Be: My pregnancy journey with type 1 diabetes
What prompted you to write your amazing book?
I was excited yet incredibly nervous when I was pregnant with my first child. My mom is also T1D and struggled with a lot of pregnancy losses when she was young, so it definitely had an impact on me. I searched to find a positive account of a T1D woman's pregnancy and really couldn't find it. So I wanted to write a book about my experience so that other T1D women who are considering pregnancy know that a happy and healthy pregnancy and baby are possible.
Any top tips for mothers with Type 1 Diabetes?
It's possibly going to be the most difficult time in managing your T1D, but it's so worth it. Expect a lot of medical appointments and changes to your insulin dosages. Try not to stress when your blood sugars aren't hitting your target every day, but just work hard to keep them as stable as possible. Imagine yourself as the one in control of your T1D and not the other way around.
Blog: The Maternal Canvas