Any diabetic who’s thought about getting pregnant has that fear, “what if I can’t control my sugars? What if the thought/fear of complications isn’t enough to make me get hardcore about my blood sugar?” I know I had those thoughts. But as soon as the test came back positive, a switch went off and diabetic beast mode was in effect. Yes I struggle, its not easy. Yes I want to eat that box of donuts my co-worker brought in. I want to eat pizza and drink root beer floats. But I’m in beast mode. I will admit I’ve splurged a couple times, had an elevated sugar and was kicking myself. Some days I have to take it one sugar, one meal at a time and remind myself over and over how important good control is.
Blood sugar (BS) control is important all through pregnancy but truly essential the first 8-10 weeks of pregnancy. This is when the baby’s cardiovascular system and neural tube (this becomes the brain and spinal cord) are developed. Poor BS control during this phase creates a higher risk of birth defects in those areas. Of course, there are exceptions. Babies are born with birth defects in moms without diabetes, and I know a gal who’s A1c was 10 when she found out she was preggo and her baby turned out fine. (recommended A1c for diabetics is <7) BUT if there is anything I can do to promote the best possible outcomes for me and baby, I’m going to jump on it. Every diabetic is different, there is no set formula. What works for me may not work for anyone else. My own personal beast mode involves the following:
1. Logging all blood sugars, times, carbs, exercise, boluses and changes to basal rates. I have my paper log out on the kitchen island at all times, in plain sight. It’s holding me accountable.
2. Diet. Cutting down on “bad” carbs and counting every carb. I drink only water (keep your tank full) and then juice if I need it for a hypo. No sweets (unless for hypo). My sugars are so sensitive right now that the smallest amount of sugar can send me sky high. I try to eat similar foods at the same times every day. I’m also not really eating big meals, I mostly snack throughout the day, it helps me to avoid any major peaks and valleys. So far so good.
3. Insulin timing. Along with counting every carb, I also bolus for every carb. I’m sure you’ve had those days where you count your carbs, the pump tells you x amount of insulin and you think “dang that’s a lot” and you dial it down, knowing you won’t need all that insulin. Well right now, I need ALL that insulin. I used to also not bolus until I started eating. Can’t do that anymore. I time it all out. Its sucks. And I write it all down. It sucks.
4. Exercise. The easiest step compared to the ones above. Goal is 3-4x a week to the gym. 20-30 mins on the treadmill or elliptical, or a hike or whatever. Helps with BS, vitals, I know last time it helped me from gaining too much and aided in labor. I also want to do squats and kegels daily. Oh what fun.
5. Emotional. Not being so hard on myself when I do have an elevated sugar. Bring it down and start again. Highs are going to happen. My body is growing a human, hormones are changing and increasing, its an ongoing process for 40 weeks. And even more emotional after baby arrives. I need to be flexible and just know my basals and boluses are going to change several times before baby arrives. As long as I get on the highs ASAP, they aren’t extended or frequent, I just need to be ok with it.
6. Enjoy it. This is a love/hate like the rest. I am an anxious person. I worry. I think of the worst-case scenarios on a frequent basis (at 6 wks postpartum with my first, I spiked a fever so of course I googled and convinced myself I had a flesh-eating bacteria and would be on a breathing machine in ICU within days. Yeah. I’m THAT person.). I loved being preggo before and I’ve grown more in my faith since then. I’m learning to trust God in ALL situations. I’m learning to think of the positive FIRST.
I know I’m going to have my weak moments, I’m going to fail at times, my sugars won’t be perfect. My endo always says “diabetes is trial and error, but mostly error.” But its doable. Its frustrating and challenging and depressing at times…but it can be done.
There you have it. Beast Mode.