Diabetic Pregnancy: My New Full-Time Job

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Pregnancy Tracker: 16 weeks 2 days

    Size of the Baby: Almost 5 inches long!

    Biggest Obstacle: Finding time to exercise daily


    A diabetic pregnancy demands much of the mother-to-be, but first and foremost, you have to be organized. Being pregnant, having diabetes -- and managing both successfully -- can feel like a full-time job, or at least a very demanding part-time job. I figured as much before becoming pregnant, so I made sure to lessen my other workloads first.


    For the last couple of years I have been balancing a full-time job at an accounting firm and working on my Masters degree in history. I knew I didn't want to add a pregnancy to my already full plate, so my husband and I waited to get pregnant until I completed my thesis and graduated. The timing could not have been more perfect. We were lucky enough to get pregnant in our second month of trying, so I turned in my thesis the very day I took my positive pregnancy test!

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    Boy, am I glad that we waited, because having diabetes while pregnant requires a lot of time and energy on a daily basis. Each day I test my blood 15 to 18 times, work in some exercise, plan my (basically) nutritionally sound meals, take my prenatal vitamin, manage my insulin boluses and basal rate, and log everything on a spreadsheet to fax to my CDE weekly. Plus, now decisions about what foods to eat and how to manage highs and lows have taken on increased importance with the presence of our little one depending on my responsible actions.


    Also, being on top of one's prescriptions becomes doubly important during pregnancy, when increasing insulin resistance requires a corresponding increase in the number of vials on your prescription. For me, my test strip needs doubled, thus I submitted a new script for 500 test strips a month! So far, I have avoided any struggles with my insurance company over my growing quantities of insulin and test strips. As long as your doctor explains that you are pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant, all of those added supplies should be covered.


    The daily stuff becomes fairly routine; however, the sheer number of doctor appointments surprised me. My husband and I considered pitching a tent on the USCD Medical Center lawn during one particularly busy week!


    Diabetic pregnancies are high risk, so the doctor will want to see you early and often. We had our first ultrasound at 6 weeks and 3 days. Many women do not even realize they are pregnant that early! A lot of people assumed I was farther along because I already had so many ultrasound pictures. In fact, by 16 weeks, I have already had five ultrasounds!


    Along with all of the fun baby pictures, doctor's appointments typically involve routine urine tests, reviewing blood sugar logs, and adjusting basal and bolus rates. Depending on your control, your OB will want to see you every two to three weeks throughout your pregnancy. These regular appointments are in addition to the blood drawings, genetic screenings and other medical tests that accompany a high risk pregnancy.


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    My personal favorite test so far was the 24-hour urine collection. One Sunday, I spent the entire day drinking water and peeing into a plastic container. What a very odd and undignified activity! The urine then had to be transferred to a sealed container that was kept in the refrigerator all day and night. Luckily, we received a brown paper bag to carry the bottle into the lab. This test is done to see how a diabetic's kidneys are reacting to the pregnancy. I am pleased to report that I had no protein in my urine! (Man, the things people with diabetes get excited about.)


    Since most diabetic mothers-to-be cannot take a nine-month vacation to tend to their pregnancy, it is best to be organized from the beginning and be upfront with your employer about the time commitment these appointments will demand. My organizational system basically revolves around a medium-sized binder which holds my daily logs, appointment recaps from the doctor, a calendar for all of our appointments, and other notes about diabetes and/or pregnancy. It is helpful to have everything in one place.


    While it is a lot of work, being pregnant with diabetes is a rewarding endeavor. Seeing tangible results for my hard work in encouraging test results, such as a lower A1c, has kept me motivated to stay healthy for both myself and our baby.


    Wow, now I'm tired... time for a nap.

Published On: July 26, 2007