My Experience With Type 1, Pregnancy and Delivery

A beautiful baby girl

| Apr 1, 2006

On January 7, 2006, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Ava Grace Baker. She was 8.4 pounds and 20.25 inches long. It took 30 hours, but it was worth every moment. Well, almost every moment.

The downside: I am no longer making my own insulin. The upside: I have learned more than I could have ever imagined about health advocacy, the power of the patient’s voice and the value of education. I also learned, again, that with diabetes anything is possible if you are in good control.

‘Scared Out of My Mind’

To say that I was anxious about the delivery would be an understatement. I was scared out of my mind. Even though I had read scores of books about the process, I still didn’t quite know what to expect, and in reality, nothing could have totally prepared me for the experience.

I was most concerned about how my diabetes would be managed and if the little one I was carrying would be safe from severe hypoglycemia upon birth.

The labor started easily enough. My water broke at around 1:00 a.m., during a routine trip to the bathroom. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure it was my water breaking. There weren’t any contractions or any other signals that delivery was close. My husband and I concluded that we would be best served trying to get a little rest and going to the hospital in the morning.

But within hours we were on our way—nervous, excited, antsy.

Keeping the Pump On

The first few hours at the hospital went smoothly. Check-in was a breeze. Confirmation of labor—easy. Monitoring—everything looked good, and I was even dilated a little. The hospital staff thought that I might have the baby by early evening.

The greatest gift of the labor process came in those first few hours when my obstetrician suggested that I keep wearing my pump. He said, “It has worked for you for nine months, lets just keep at it.” I was shocked. I had been prepared for an IV drip of regular insulin and glucose. The hospital had forewarned me that their protocol was to control the diabetes through an IV, not with a pump. I had fought for months for the opportunity to be a part of the decision-making process, sometimes hitting a brick wall. Now that gentle advocacy was paying off. My husband and I could hardly believe our ears. We simply agreed, “Makes sense to us!”

A few hours later, my doctor returned during a routine glucose check and said to the nursing staff, “Why are you using the hospital meter to test her blood sugar? Why not just let her use her meter? It has worked well for her for nine months.” Again, my husband and I were shocked.

Again, we agreed. I had been checking my blood glucose hourly with my meter, anyway, and had been reporting the numbers to the care team. I didn’t like having only two-hour glucose readings, as was the hospital protocol.

What I Learned

Hours came and went. An epidural was administered. Blood glucose levels were monitored. Basal rates were lowered. Food was withheld. Through it all, my diabetes control was perfect and the hospital experience, a dream. My glucose never went above 132; the baby’s blood glucose was 88 at birth. Although the labor took 30 hours, it seemed like moments, and our reward was the beautiful baby girl wrapped in blankets, lying on my chest at 6:29 a.m.

When the process began—nine months earlier—I didn’t know what to think. As the pounds piled on and the baby grew, I was terrified. At times the intensity of my diabetes care overwhelmed me: an average of 12 glucose checks a day and more than double the amount of insulin I used before pregnancy. I worried about every little thing and was convinced that my diabetes was somehow going to harm this little girl. But I pressed on, worked hard, learned much and demonstrated my capability to my healthcare team. It all paid off.

Today, we know that Ava has the lowest-risk gene for getting type 1 diabetes. (Her genetic makeup was looked at for the TRIGR study on breastfeeding and type 1, which we participated in.) And I have a pregnancy success story, something I wasn’t sure was possible.

It is all a blessing beyond measure, and now there is one more reason to fight for every moment I can suck out of this life.

Nicole’s Numbers During Labor

TimeBlood Glucose
January 6, 2006
12:30 pm 75 mg/dl
1:30 pm 50 mg/dl
2:30 pm 95 mg/dl
3:30 pm 132 mg/dl
5:00 pm 98 mg/dl
6:30 pm 75 mg/dl
7:15 pm 105 mg/dl
8:15 pm 88 mg/dl
9:15 pm 68 mg/dl
10:15 pm 67 mg/dl
10:45 pm 72 mg/dl
January 7, 2006
12:00 am 76 mg/dl
12:30 am 80 mg/dl
1:30 am 85 mg/dl
2:30 am 89 mg/dl
3:30 am 93 mg/dl
4:30 am 91 mg/dl
5:30 am 95 mg/dl
6:30 am (Delivery) 119 mg/dl
9:30 am 130 mg/dl
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Categories: Blood Glucose, Blood Sugar, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Hospital Care, Insulin, Low Blood Sugar, Personal Stories, Pregnancy, Type 1 Issues

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Posted by Anonymous on 6 November 2007

your story was very inspiring. I am 7 weeks preganant and I have type one diabetes... i am so nervous... But your story has given me hope. Thank You

Posted by Anonymous on 12 December 2007

Thank you for your story. I also have type 1 diabetes and an 35 weeks pregnant. It has been a challenge full of fears, but stories such as yours give the rest of us hope for success stories.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 December 2007

I am 25 weeks pregnant with type 1 and scared out of my mind. Your story gives evryone hope and congratulations to you & your new family!

Posted by Anonymous on 28 July 2008

While reading this I cried. This was the support and control I wanted when I had my first child. (I have had diabetes for over 20 years) My Ante natal was brilliant but leading up to birth (in hospital) and after was terrible. I am now 32 weeks with my second child and this gives me hope that this time I can be in control and get the birth and after birth care I deserve especially after the tears and sweat of looking after my unborn child. Thank you for your encouragement

Posted by Anonymous on 24 September 2009

Thank you so much for sharing your story it has put my mind to ease. I am a type one diabetic and 36 weeks pregnant. I am so afraid of having severe hypoglycemia during labor and it affecting my baby. I now have a little more confidence in my health care provider. Thanks again!

Posted by Anonymous on 6 January 2010

Thank you for posting your story. I am 33 weeks pregnant, have had Type 1 diabetes for 24 years and have lots of questions about blood sugars during delivery. Unfortuneately I live in a small town and my GP doesn't have the answers I want. Your story answered many of my questions and re-assured me. I also cried when reading your story. It sounded so similar to my own story. I have already told my GP that I plan to use my pump during labour and delivery. Thanks again for sharing your story!

Posted by Anonymous on 13 April 2011

Thank you for writing this story. I am very scared and nervous about delivery. I am Type 1 and now 30 weeks and on a massive amount of insulin due to the insulin resistance increasing through my pregnancy. I am on an insulin pump but also shots at meal time AND nph insulin twice a day! I feel like a human pin cushion. My A1c was 4.9 before preganancy and is staying put so far. I am very fearful of the insulin/gluucose drip given during labor and the hospital not checking my numbers often enough.

Thank you.

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