We all know that pregnancy with diabetes can be challenging, which is why we’ve written about it so much before. We’ve shared advice for pregnancy and diabetes, what to eat during pregnancy, how to exercise during pregnancy, lessons learnt from a diabetic pregnancy and even how to support someone during a diabetic pregnancy. But what about new moms with diabetes? We asked Sweet Life editor Bridget McNulty to share her top tips for new moms with diabetes.
Parenting with diabetes
My children are four and six, so I suppose that means I have some experience parenting with diabetes… Except that the one thing parenting (and diabetes!) teaches you is that no two days are alike! Still, here are some things I wish I’d known as a new mom with diabetes.
Acceptance of the rollercoaster
Pregnancy is good training for this, but it’s important to emotionally accept that your blood sugar is going to be on a bit of a rollercoaster for the first few weeks (and months?) no matter how disciplined you are. Your hormones are going crazy, you’re sleep deprived (and that makes a big difference to blood sugar), your weight is fluctuating, you’re probably breastfeeding – that all makes it tricky to find any kind of blood sugar stability. Do your best, try to eat at regular times, and stick to foods you know your blood sugar likes (if you can). That’s all you can do.
Breastfeeding and diabetes
I didn’t anticipate how much of an impact breastfeeding would have on my blood sugar – despite reading about it beforehand. Breastfeeding for a day uses as much energy as a half marathon, apparently, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it has such a profound impact on blood sugar! But the lows I had from breastfeeding were the most persistent I’ve ever had. My advice? Stash low snacks everywhere. There’s nothing worse than being trapped under a sleeping baby, or mid-breastfeed and needing a snack. Juice boxes in every room of the house, little bags of sweets stuffed in between the couch cushions, sweets or sugar packets in the baby bag and in your handbag and in the cubby hole of your car… You get the idea.
Put your own oxygen mask on first
You’ve no doubt heard this so many times before, but it’s particularly true for new moms with diabetes. You can’t be a good mom if you’re feeling exhausted and blurry from crazy blood sugar. You won’t be able to soak up the moments if you’re worried about going low. Before the baby comes (if possible), put some plans in place that will make it easier for you to give your diabetes the attention it deserves.
- Definitely cook a few of your favourite meals, and freeze them (you can even do this in individual portions if you and your partner eat differently).
- Stock up on snacks that won’t spike your blood sugar (breastfeeding makes you so hungry!)
- If you can afford a CGM, it will make your life so much easier.
- Talk to your partner about making sure you can catch up on sleep. Lack of sleep can flood your body with cortisol, which can make you insulin resistant, so it’s important to sleep when you can.
- Release diabetes control a little bit. Pregnancy control has to be so tight, but if you try to aim for those numbers with a newborn, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Give yourself a break – as long as you’re trying your best, you are succeeding.
- Don’t forget to pack your diabetes supplies in your baby bag! Been there, done that (so many times.)
Soak it up
Let me be the first of hundreds of people to tell you that it goes so fast! The days are long but the years are short, and those first few months of being a mom are overwhelming and wonderful and so full of love and so upside down… As much as possible, try not to let diabetes get in the way of enjoying your new baby. You’ve worked so hard to make this happen, and you deserve every glorious, squishy, baby-scented moment of it. Congratulations!