5 things Laura Hill wishes she’d known about being pregnant and having type 1 diabetes

December 21, 2021

This blog post was written by Laura Hill, a T1D community member, JDRF staff member and new mum to baby Ivy as part of our 2022: Time to Kick T1D Goals campaign. Here, she shares the 5 biggest things she wishes she knew when planning a pregnancy with type 1 diabetes.

1. Everything you know about your T1D management may change

I thought i had a great handle on my T1D management before falling pregnant and I assumed this meant I was all set for a safe pregnancy. However, immediately upon falling pregnant everything I knew and did to manage my T1D was thrown out the window. I had to continuously (we are talking daily!) adjust my pre-bolusing timing, insulin rates, exercise schedule, carb consumption to manage my T1D and account for all the changes my body was going through.

Even with this tight management, my blood glucose levels (BGLs) did crazy and unexplainable things. Luckily, I had a committed and supportive diabetes team to help me through it. On top of everything pregnancy related, T1D management can really wear you down.

Remember, it is impossible to be perfect and stress/anxiety will only make things worse mentally and physically. Be kind to yourself as much as possible, go with the flow and reach out to your diabetes team if you are feeling drained, stressed, or worried.

2. Pregnancy can change your low BGL symptoms

I found out the hard way that pregnancy can cause your usual symptoms of a low BGL to change or feel different. In the past, I would often distinguish a low BSL through my usual symptoms of shakiness and lack of energy. However, when I was 14 weeks pregnant I experienced a low blood sugar completely out of the blue when driving home from a medical appointment.

The only warning sign? A sudden onset of severe nausea, something I haven’t experienced when low before. Luckily, I had my CGM to alert me! I later found out that it is not unusual to experience a change in your usual low BGL symptoms when pregnant, and these can change throughout trimesters.

3. Google is NOT your friend

Do NOT Google any of your weird and wonderful symptoms of pregnancy. Otherwise, it will lead you down a rabbit hole that only causes further anxiety. I wish I had known to avoid Google especially in the beginning of pregnancy. 

There are several handy and trustworthy resources that can be accessed to find out about T1D and pregnancy. The most reliable resource I found was: NDSS Planning a Pregnancy Guide.

4. You are your own biggest advocate

One thing I learnt through my pregnancy journey is that everyone believes they are an expert on you/your body/your baby/your diabetes. In fact, you are the most knowledgeable and the best expert on all these things. I found that everyone will share their opinion on what they think is best for you, but trust your own intuition, do your own research, and ask lots of questions!

If something doesn’t feel right, speak up! I learnt that its most reassuring to ask for more information (such as the benefits, risks, alternatives) so you can make the most informed decision for you and your baby.

5. Trust and love your body

It is easy to feel like our bodies have failed us when we live with T1D. The ups and downs of managing the condition during pregnancy meant it was very easy for me to lose sight of what my body is capable of. I was anxious to fall pregnant out of fear my body would fail me or my future baby. However, my pregnancy and T1D journey led me to a newfound love for my body and what it is capable of.

It grew and gave life to the cutest little baby. It has successfully nourished her and provided her with all she needs to thrive in this crazy world, all whilst I managed the hurdles of T1D and pregnancy – how COOL is that! Whilst my body may not produce insulin anymore, it sure as hell does so many other amazing things that I am so very proud of.

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

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