The idea that having diabetes could be beneficial to pregnant women might seem shocking. But what if I told you that it’s possible to turn this pernicious disease into a true blessing for your child? I have personally experienced this, and I’d like to share my story with you.
“Tough times never last, but tough people do” – Robert H. Schuller
The day I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic, my life was turned upside down. At 25 years old, it took time for me to accept the fact that I am diabetic and will have to lead my life with this disease, as it requires continuous monitoring to prevent developing serious medical conditions. Because I had to start following strict dietary measures and medication, I couldn’t focus on anything else. Before I realized that I was suffering from depression, I lost my job and my career goals in the field of marketing. I adapted to the situation and learned to cope with my condition.
I was able to return to my job, and I got married. Although my life partner never made me feel like I am diabetic and tried to focus on the positive aspects of life, I still had nightmares about conceiving. Being a mother is the most beautiful gift of God to women, and I wanted to experience this loveliest of journeys.
After two years of marriage, I began my journey toward motherhood. I had mixed feelings about my conception. Despite my elation, deep inside I was filled with trepidation about my baby. Adding to my fears, my diabetologist suggested I terminate the pregnancy within 12 weeks, as my HBA1C level would not allow me to be a mother at that time. The word “termination” felt like something had trampled the mother inside of me. And within a few minutes of hearing this, my husband and I decided not to succumb to it. We asked for an alternative, and fortunately one existed.
We opted for an insulin pump *, leaving the rest to God. I knew the consequences and risks involved with a diabetic pregnancy. Unlike non-diabetic mothers, I couldn’t afford to eat to my content and gain weight, as it might result in my baby being born with birth defects. My gynecologist and diabetologist reminded me of all the horrible consequences on every visit. Despite having tremendous anxiety and fear, I couldn’t afford to stress out; otherwise, it could have worsened the situation. I realized that I was the only one who could either save my baby or harm her. And very soon, my soul chose to not only save my baby from possible birth defects but to make her a strong baby. I repeated this to myself through the 9 months of my pregnancy. And it gave me the strength to have a normal and healthy baby. Based on my experience, I would love to share some valuable advice which I believe may help mothers suffering from the same situation.
“Train your mind to see the good in everything.” – Paul Walker
The very first thing to be taken care of is your diet. However, it will only benefit you if you choose the correct one and feel within that it will help your baby grow. Yes, you must train your mind to feel positive and healthy about everything you are eating, since there is a calorie count which puts a limit on the variety and quantity of food you can eat. Every diabetic knows this, but I am going to share how my diabetic pregnancy turned into a blessing in disguise for my baby.
“The undisciplined are the slaves of moods, appetites, and passions.” – Stephen Covey
Being disciplined about your diet is the first step to success. Let’s start with my schedule and the difficulties I faced even after being so conscientious. I generally followed a diabetic diet: My morning breakfast was mostly butter toast and tea (no sugar) which suited my calorie count very well and didn’t cause sugar levels to rise above the normal level. I completely avoided sugar-free pallets because they were not recommended by the doctors while I was pregnant. An hour before lunch and dinner, I ate a salad made up of spinach leaves, carrots, and tomatoes. Believe me, this mixture of salad proved to be a real savior during my pregnancy. It not only kept me hydrated (which is the priority) but also boosted my hemoglobin, especially in the later months of my pregnancy when it went below 10%. Curd was always a part of my menu for lunch. Dinner was adjusted based on the calories consumed during the day.
Whoa! I Am Still in Shape!
This diet chart helped me keep my body weight under control, which is most crucial with diabetic pregnancy. It also saved me from facing typical pregnancy symptoms like swelling due to weight gain, and there were no blood pressure issues all through the period. The best part was that my doctors asked for a health chart that included the food intake for the whole day and the sugar levels before and after meals. This chart helped me, and my doctors keep strict track of my sugar levels and caloric intake.
Walking and Talking!
I loved my post-meal walks. Yes, this again proved to be a real blessing. I walked after every meal—30 minutes after breakfast, 30 minutes after lunch, and 45 minutes or more after dinner. * Apart from the health benefits, you can use this time to talk to your baby. Yes, this is the best time to start creating a bond with your little one and give him or her life lessons.
Oh God! I Want to Eat Some Sweets!
Now comes the craving part! This was the real ordeal that I had to overcome somehow. I craved sweets, and I had to control myself. At the same time, I constantly heard from midwives that we shouldn’t control our cravings, as it’s the baby’s demand, and it may have adverse effects on her health. This upset me the most—I cried about my fate and said sorry to my baby a thousand times for not fulfilling her wishes. Those were the times when I looked up and asked God, “Why me? Why can’t I enjoy my pregnancy like other women do, eat to my contention, fulfill my cravings, and eventually fulfill my baby’s very first and little wish?” It was difficult, but the desire to see my baby born healthy kept me strong.
Wow! It’s Chocolate Time!
We all are aware of the balance and fluctuations associated with diabetes. Low blood sugar reminded me of the difficulty I faced. Without a doubt, the insulin pump gave me the best results regarding my sugar levels, but on the other hand, I faced hypoglycemia because of my strict diet and walking regimen. Insulin pumps alter our pancreas; thus, it transmits insulin at a continuous rate set by your diabetologist according to your body requirements. That is why it is so important to keep close track of your sugar levels to avoid any possible complications with the pregnancy. In keeping with my positivity, I even enjoyed low blood sugar because I would have a chance to eat chocolate, and it would make me happy to eat what I wanted and give a taste change to my baby.
Oh! It Is Moving!
During the last months of pregnancy, the gynecologist becomes more concerned about the baby’s movement, and you are asked to keep close track of it happening with every specific event. Because the maximum movements are expected while having meals, it again proved to be a difficult time for me. Doctors generally suggest having something sweet, in case the baby isn’t making the expected number of movements. Unfortunately, I couldn’t follow that protocol. But there was nothing to worry about with this either because I found an alternative—I made my baby listen to music. Fortunately, babies enjoy music. So, if your little one is getting bored or lazy, teach them to listen to soothing music and be ready to feel the loveliest movements in your tummy. Besides, music is the best stress buster. It may also result in good psychological and physiological effects for the baby and the mother.
D-Day Is Approaching!
As your delivery day approaches, anxiety grows at a faster pace than ever. In addition, the doctor may ask you to be more cautious about your caloric intake to control your weight. You must ensure that you are not going lose this battle against diabetes and have your baby delivered healthy at any cost. Having said that, I would suggest calculating your body mass index (BMI) and learn your optimal weight beforehand. Try to keep your weight under the prescribed limits. This helped me curb pregnancy complications and get back to a petite body frame soon after the delivery.
Strong will, determination, and positivity is what contributed to a successful diabetic pregnancy. My diabetic pregnancy proved to be a blessing in disguise for me and my husband. We were blessed with a baby girl who was delivered normally. The doctors admired her and proclaimed her to be one of the healthiest babies that they had seen, without any abnormalities and complications.
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
*Note: Application of an insulin pump is subject to change depending on the type of diabetes you have. Please follow your diabetologist’s prescription.
*Note: The walking schedule is subject to change depending on each woman’s physical conditions.