In my nearly six months of motherhood, I have discovered that this new phase of life is full of many wonderful highs and frustrating lows. Mostly, having a child has been the most rewarding, fun, inspiring, and joyous thing I have ever done. But, diabetes does threaten to ruin the party sometimes... especially when my blood sugar gets low.
I've repeatedly encountered three situations that often lead to low blood sugars. The best way to combat these scenarios is to plan ahead more effectively. However, when you have a small child, planning ahead accurately can be quite a challenge. Often, I'll tell Sienna what we're doing (I know she doesn't understand yet, but it's helpful to verbally lay out my plans) only to discover that she's hungry, overly tired, or needs to be changed. Suddenly by best laid plans are out the window and I'm settling for Plan B.
One physiological aspect of motherhood can often lead to low blood sugars: breastfeeding. Or, in my case, breast pumping. Since I pump breast milk five times a day, it has become an ingrained part of my daily schedule. Because it's so routine, I keep neglecting to account for the blood sugar lowering effect. I need to pay especially close attention to my blood sugars if I pump milk while a lot of insulin is active in my system.
The second scenario is actually more frustrating and difficult to plan around. Well, actually, planning ahead is the issue! In order to achieve healthy postprandial blood sugars, I usually need to bolus at least 15-20 minutes before eating a meal. When I was pregnant (read about Kelsey's diabetic pregnancy here), I'd routinely bolus 45-50 minutes before eating, so I'm accustomed to bolusing ahead of time, especially if the meal contains fast acting carbohydrates. However, I've experienced several low blood sugars because I've delivered insulin prematurely, only to have something delay my meal. When you're completely responsible for a littler person's care and well-being, you can't always predict when you'll have a chance to sit down and eat!
Finally, I've struggled with low blood sugars during long walks with my family. We try to take these treks while Sienna is napping. She loves to sleep in her stroller! What I should do is plan ahead, set a temporary basal rate and eat a snack an hour or so before we leave. Rather, what usually happens is that we get Sienna all cozy and ready to sleep, I test my blood and discover I'm around 100 mg/dl. I grab something to eat as we start walking. Unfortunately, my blood sugar drops faster than the glucose gets into my blood and I'm low just thirty minutes into our walk. This means I have to consume more carbs and then still I feel a bit shaky for several minutes while my blood sugar tries to creep up despite my vigorous walking. (Dennis tries to slow down, but he's physically incapable of walking at a normal pace!)
For the last couple weeks I've tried to keep these situations in mind, so hopefully I'll become more efficient at heading them off. Low blood sugars are much more frustrating when they interfere with experiencing the joys and excitement of motherhood!
Read more about managing low blood sugars: