Planning pregnancy with diabetes

Studies show women who have diabetes and engage in pre-pregnancy care are at lower risk of complications

Thu, Sep 4, 2014, 11:41

“It’s very important that women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are on contraception, that they plan pregnancies carefully and understand the implications of becoming pregnant with diabetes,” Dunne says.

Pre-pregnancy care

"Without the clinic, I really don’t know if I would have had the successful outcome I had"

Galway woman Cliona Dempsey was halfway through her long journey to  have a baby when out of the blue, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 32.

She was referred to the pre-pregnancy care clinic at Galway University Hospital (GUH) and her attempts to have a baby had to be put on hold until she got her sugars under control.

She says: “At the time of diagnosis, my sugars were all over the place. There was no history of diabetes in my family, it was just one of those random things that appears. I had started trying to conceive when I was 30 and it was difficult to have to stop and wait for the go-ahead from the pre-pregnancy team, but my healthy baby boy, Brian, was born at the end of it all so it was well worth the wait.”

Dempsey attended the clinic once a month until her sugars and other parameters were at a level the team were happy with before she was able to start trying for a baby again.

“It can be very hard to keep your sugars under such tight control but in my circumstances, the knowledge that what I was doing would lead to a better outcome in pregnancy drove me to attend the clinic and work with the team.

“Without the clinic, I really don’t know if I would have had the successful outcome I had. They got me ready for a healthy pregnancy.”

Once Dempsey’s pregnancy was confirmed, she was transferred to the gestational diabetes clinic at GUH where her condition was more aggressively managed. She attended the clinic every two weeks throughout her pregnancy to have bloods taken and her blood pressure and sugar levels checked.

“The clinic nurse, Breda Kirwan called every three to four days to see how I was getting on and just to offer me any support I needed, she was just fantastic. It’s tough when you’re doing your best and you still can’t get your sugars under control but they were always there for me.

“Once my pregnancy was confirmed, I had to be more vigilant than ever about eating healthily and at the right times of the day, but I wanted a baby so badly and had thought it might never happen, so if they had told me to eat grass for nine months, I would have,” she laughs.

In Dempsey’s estimation, the standard of the pre-pregnancy and gestational diabetes clinics in Galway were world class. Being diabetic, she did not have the choice between going public and private but the service she got was “better than private”, she says.