If you are a woman with diabetes, starting on the journey of planning a pregnancy, you may have all sorts of thoughts, feelings, worries and concerns. It is completely expected that you would want to get as much information as possible.
We know that women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have higher risks of problems for both themselves and their babies. But with the right information, support, care and planning – you can have a healthy pregnancy and baby. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the medical information and the things that can go wrong.
While it is important to know these things, it is just as important that you feel supported and connected as you go through this journey.
Planning your pregnancy is so important. In an ideal world this would always be the case, but we know lots of women (me included) have unplanned pregnancies or get pregnant sooner than expected. This is why it is important to know as much as possible and be as healthy as possible even before you consider pregnancy.
I believe that we can do better. Despite all of the risks and the increased chances of things going wrong, women with pre-existing diabetes can and should have wonderful pregnancies, remarkable births and spectacular lives with their babies and children. I believe that with better understanding, better information, better technology, better services and communication between health care teams and women with diabetes, we can create better experiences and better outcomes for all mothers living with diabetes and their babies.
Other women with diabetes
Relationships and support from people who have shared this journey can be wonderful when you have diabetes. Some women feel they are alone and may find talking to women who are pregnant but don’t have diabetes isolating. They may not understand the extra complications and stress associated with pregnancy and diabetes.
Connecting with other women who do understand can help you to feel connected and experience pregnancy in the best way possible.
Sharing the journey really helps.
You may find hearing that other people feel the same as you, or have ideas and tips, really helps you and offers great reassurance, particularly in pregnancy and early motherhood.
A good relationship with your partner is very important. Your relationship will change and there will be a focus on your diabetes management, the pregnancy and later, the baby, which can cause problems for some couples. However, many couples have a great working relationship and support each other through everything. Working as a team is the way to go.
At the start, your partner may want to be involved in the planning, or they may feel overwhelmed by the things you need to do to ensure tight diabetes control. It may depend on how much they were involved in your diabetes before. It may also depend on how much they know and educating your partner by taking them to some medical appointments can be helpful.
Talking about what is important for you to do to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby, and working out how your partner can help, can make it easier for both of you. It may be that you need your partner to take on more roles in the household to allow you to care for your health more. It can help to involve your partner in visits to your health care team from time to time, so they gain first hand understanding and be able to offer support around the hard work you will need to undertake.
Some people find pregnancy puts extra strain on their relationship with their partner, particularly if you have other children to care for. The rest of your life continues despite your focus on planning for a pregnancy. If your control was not very tight prior to pregnancy you will have an even bigger task. Taking time to rest and focus on your health needs can lead to conflicting feelings and guilt that you are not keeping up with usual responsibilities, but this is a time that you have to make yourself and your baby number one priority.
Keeping open channels of communication with your partner is important. Talk about how you are both feeling, both the worries and excitement. Your Partner will have to learn new things too and may have worries and fears of their own too, or anxiety about the health of your baby. Having plans in place before things happen is the way to go.