Friday, August 12, 2011

Resources for Diabetes & Pregnancy

Holy crapola, I just changed my pump site and it hurt like crazy!  I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that I was wingin' it, trying to insert the site without using a mirror at work...not a great idea unless you're amazingly coordinated, by the way!  What I thought was my upper hip actually ended up being closer to my lower back, where there isn't a whole lot of fat for that lovely needle to come to rest in.  Luckily, the sting is subsiding.  I've had plenty of sites that are completely painless, but every now and then I get one that hurts enough to make me today!

Painful site change aside, I'm so glad it's Friday!  We have a wedding to go to tomorrow evening (yay, it's finally here!), but other than that I'm planning on using the rest of the weekend for some much-needed rest...and laundry, of course.  I started writing a post last Friday, and never got around to finishing it...that's how busy my week has been!  I had a doctor's appointment (OB) on Tuesday, and everything was fine.  Normal blood pressure, average weight gain (maybe 4-5 lbs total so far, at 14 weeks), and baby's heartbeat sounded great!  Next visit they'll draw blood for the multiple marker screening test that checks for Down's Syndrome, Trisomy 18, and Neural Tube Defects, among other things.  It's completely optional from my OB's standpoint, but according to the source I just read, it is recommended for women with diabetes who use insulin (among other high-risk pregnancies), although it doesn't explain specifically why.  I haven't discussed the test with my husband yet, but I would imagine that we'll go ahead and do it.  For me, knowledge is power and I would rather know early on about potential problems (or twins-omg!).

Speaking of knowledge, before I was pregnant there were very few (dependable) resources available regarding diabetes and pregnancy.  As soon as I was diagnosed last August, I made it my personal mission to find as much information as possible on the subject, because it was the thing that most concerned me at the time (especially being a woman of 22 at the time, diagnosed on our 7-month wedding "anniversary").  Unfortunately, I only found three books, one of which was (and still is) out of print.  Here's the rundown:

101 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Diabetes by Patricia Bazel Geil , Laura Hieronymus , & Laura B. Hieronymous
This book, published by the ADA in 2003, is no longer available from retailers-but you can still find used copies on Amazon (or from other used-book sellers) like I did.  It is in a question-and-answer format and has some decent tips on the three different types of diabetes (1, 2, & Gestational) as they relate to various issues in pregnancy.  Each question and answer are marked with the specific types of diabetes they apply to.  It's pretty straightforward, but doesn't give much information beyond the bare basics that a lot of us probably already know from our medical professionals and personal research online (only from reputable sources, of course).  It would be a good place to start, though, if you're building your diabetes/pregnancy knowledge from the ground up.

Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby by Cheryl Alkon
For me, this was the Holy Grail of diabetes and pregnancy books.  It was current, published just four months before I was diagnosed, and full of information from women who had been through it all-and sometimes, that's the most valuable advice to have.  Cheryl's book was a Godsend because it shows that while pregnancy with preexisting diabetes is challenging, it is definitely doable.  It provides in-depth information starting at preconception, on through pregnancy, and then to life as a mom with diabetes.  The most amazing thing about this book is its friendly, conversational, between-girlfriends tone.  While other books on diabetes and pregnancy can be dry and sometimes dictatorial, Cheryl's guide provides accurate information and advice without being fact, it's just the opposite: encouraging-which is something that women with diabetes often don't encounter, especially when it comes to pregnancy.  We've all heard the horror stories, the discouragement from those around us (and even some medical professionals), so this book is a light at the end of the tunnel for those of us who don't live with our heads in the sand, and yet still believe that we can have a relatively normal pregnancy as a woman with diabetes as long as we take the proper precautions and manage our diabetes correctly.

When You're a Parent With Diabetes: A Real Life Guide to Staying Healthy While Raising a Family  by Kathryn Gregorio Palmer  
As I explained before, the idea of pregnancy with diabetes was something that weighed heavily on my mind when I was diagnosed.  Once I was reassured that it was possible for me to have a healthy pregnancy and baby (as long as I went about things the right way), I started to think about what life would be like as a parent with diabetes.  The idea of managing pregnancy with diabetes is overwhelming enough, but thinking about taking care of an infant while still trying to effectively take care of yourself and your disease is downright scary at times.  Enter this book, published in 2006.  Written by a mother with type 1 diabetes, this book covers everything from pregnancy through talking to your older kids about your disease.  Most importantly, it gives some wonderful tips on dealing with diabetes while you're trying to raise a family, right down to details like where to keep your juice/candy/other low treatments so your kids don't accidentally eat/drink them all, remembering to check your blood sugar in the chaos of daily family life, and explaining to your children what to do in an emergency.  This book, like Cheryl's, is credible because it's written by someone who has been there, and helpful because it's encouraging and informative. 

I decided to review the existing books on diabetes and pregnancy because the ADA just came out with its new, updated guide on the subject in June:
Diabetes and Pregnancy: A Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy for Women with Type 1, Type 2, or Gestational Diabetes by David A. Sacks
Upon finding out about its existence, I immediately downloaded this book to my Nook, excited to finally have some more information on diabetes and pregnancy.  What I found, though, is that it is elementary in its approach, offering nothing more than the information you get from your doctor or online from credible sources.  Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was disappointed when I found that all of this information was just a repeat of what I already knew on a most basic level.  It starts off with the whole "What is Diabetes?" discussion, the types of diabetes and their management, and goes on to explain the effects of diabetes on pregnancy, blah, blah, blah.  Maybe I'm being a little too critical, but I was looking for some new, useful information-not a review of what you can find in almost any current pregnancy or diabetes guide.  I suppose that, as with their tip book above, this book by the ADA would be good for someone newly diagnosed; however, if you're like me and have been reading as much as possible on the subject for a while, you'll probably find the content to be fairly useless in terms of application.  I haven't finished it yet, but I'm over half-way through it and haven't learned anything new.  Cheryl and Kathryn's books remain the most useful and comprehensive books on diabetes and pregancy/parenting available, at least in my eyes!

Other than books, there are some great blogs by women with diabetes who have been through the rollercoasters of pregnancy and parenting with diabetes.  I enjoy reading them because it helps to know that there are people who have been through the same challenges you're going through, and came out on the other side with a healthy baby.  My favorites are Kerri Morrone Sparling's, sixuntilme, and Cheryl Alkon's, Managing the Sweetness Within.


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