Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes – “A Labor of Love”
By Amelia Dmowska
Ginger Vieira and Jennifer Smith’s month-to-month guide for managing blood sugars, nutrition, exercise, and mental health during pregnancy
In addition to the excitement that goes along with the prospect of having a child, any woman considering pregnancy may be flooded with questions, fears, and worries. For women with type 1 diabetes, there’s the additional massive pressure of maintaining in-range blood sugars for the health of the growing baby while also avoiding severe hypoglycemia. “Managing type 1 diabetes during pregnancy is probably one of the most challenging tasks a type 1 woman could take on,” says Ginger Vieira, co-author of Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes – Your Month-to-Month Guide to Blood Sugar Management (available on Amazon here). “It’s so challenging because it’s this constant pressure to do everything as perfectly as humanly possible. It’s the pressure of knowing that your blood sugar levels are no longer just impacting your body but also impacting that growing life inside of you!”
Ginger and co-author Jennifer Smith wanted to create a guide specifically designed to help women with type 1 diabetes meet those challenges. As mothers with diabetes themselves, they know what it’s like to feel the fear of being pregnant while managing diabetes. Ginger has lived with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease since 1999, has written several books about diabetes, and is part of the editorial team at DiabetesDaily.com. Jenny, a Certified Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietitian, has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1990 and works as a diabetes coach for people across the globe. They will both soon be mothers of two children (Ginger is expecting her second child in May!). Their book Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes is not just an informative tool and resource, but is also a source of personal support, encouragement, and inspiration for all mothers-to-be with type 1 diabetes.
When the duo approached several publishers about the book, many told them that the audience of mothers with type 1 diabetes is too small. Luckily, they didn’t give up, and used the rejections as motivation. “Women with type 1 diabetes deserve this book,” Ginger says. Throughout the book, they emphasize that diabetes management during pregnancy is a “labor of love” that requires hard work and diligence. But with the right toolkit and resources, a woman with type 1 diabetes can absolutely have a successful and healthy pregnancy.
While pregnant, a woman’s body – and her insulin needs – can change on an almost daily basis. Shortly after conception, for instance, women typically experience a rise in blood sugars. Six to ten weeks later, most women experience increased insulin sensitivity and will need to reduce their insulin doses to avoid hypoglycemia. Ginger and Jenny designed their guide to reflect these constant variations, covering everything from fine-tuning insulin doses and re-learning the basics of diabetes management in the months before pregnancy, to managing nausea and eating well in the second trimester and addressing blood sugar drops while breastfeeding.
In addition to practical tips and tricks, the guide also features personal anecdotes from Ginger’s and Jenny’s own pregnancies in a “pregnancy diary” at the end of each monthly section. At end of the book, they also include series of stories from women who have dealt with a variety of twists and turns during their pregnancies like pre-eclampsia and difficulties conceiving, to name a couple. These personal tales delve into the real-life daily challenges and triumphs of diabetes management, with lessons that can help other women who might find themselves in similar situation. Ginger, Jenny, and all of the other “type 1 mamas” clearly show that, while challenging, it is very possible for a mother with type 1 to deliver a healthy baby. “It won’t be easy,” they write, “but it will definitely be worth it.”