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Mental health

How I managed anxiety around pregnancy and birth with T1D

December 21, 2021

This post was written by Laura Hill, a T1D community member, JDRF staff member and new mum to baby Ivy.

Before falling pregnant, I was aware of the demands that T1D and pregnancy may bring and that these may take a toll on my mental health. Separately, these two experiences are life-changing and bring with them a bucketload of stresses. When combined, the pressure to manage T1D whilst pregnant is beyond overwhelming!

The challenges of tightly managing my blood glucose levels (BGLs) to ensure I reduced any risk to myself and my unborn baby gave me the biggest anxiety. Not only this, concerns around my baby’s health also popped up daily throughout my pregnancy, particularly when having a day of uncontrolled BGLs.

I know I’m not alone in these feelings of anxiety, so here are a few strategies I used to manage it all that worked for me.

Leave it to the professionals

To stay on top of my concerns, I made sure to keep in constant contact with my diabetes team. I reached out to the team weekly, for their support to adjust my insulin rates. This lifted the pressure off me by handing control of these changes over to the professionals.

As a result, I had less decisions to make around the control of my diabetes and the impact these decisions may have on my pregnancy. I made sure to consistently ask questions to the midwives and doctors who were managing my pregnancy care. This ensured I was kept well informed at each step of the pregnancy, so I knew roughly what to expect.

Focus on what you can control

One of the most beneficial strategies to manage the anxiety I experienced around pregnancy, birth and T1D was to focus on the things I could control, helping me to keep things in perspective. I made sure to remind myself that I can only do so much to manage the highs and lows of my BGLs. One high reading or one day of high BGLs does not automatically lead to birth complications.

Most importantly, I focused on the aspects of T1D management that I could control such as correct carb counting and ensuring I was pre-bolusing well before meals. I found that focusing on these things led to better T1D management and lessened my anxieties around the impact of my BGLs on my health and my baby’s health.

Put yourself first

Lastly, I took time out for myself regularly and made sure to put my health and wellbeing first. I knew managing stress and anxiety through my pregnancy journey was going to be most beneficial to my baby (and myself). For this reason, I signed up to pregnancy Pilates and yoga classes early on in my first trimester, to not only keep on top of my physical health but to help prepare me mentally for birth and labour.

These classes gave me the mental time out I needed and taught me relaxation techniques that I found helpful outside of the sessions.

To learn more about pregnancy and birth while living with type 1 diabetes, download Straight to the point: A guide for adults living with type 1 diabetes. The guide covers practical advice on women’s issues like menstruation, contraception, sexuality, pregnancy and birth.

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