Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes

Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby

by Cheryl Alkon.

Copyright © 2010 by Demos Medical Publishing.

Provided with permission by Demos Medical Publishing. All rights reserved.

For more information or to order this book, visit

How Diabetes Complications Can Affect the Kind of Birth You Have

Some people don't have pre-existing diabetes or other complications and don't have any health issues during pregnancy. For those of us with diabetes, something about the condition may dictate that one particular thing be done rather than another. I've already mentioned my scheduled c-section because of retinopathy; there are other scenarios, too.

"I had planned a c-section at 36 weeks and 1 day and diabetes played a huge role in that," said Bethany Rose. "The initial plan had been to induce me at (or slightly before) 38 weeks. Around 30 weeks, I started to have problems with my blood pressure going up very quickly. Even quitting work and starting on medication didn't keep it from rising. By the time I had the c-section, I officially had pre-eclampsia." She went for amnio at 36 weeks on a Friday, and her daughter's lungs weren't fully developed. Rose's doctor scheduled a c-section for the following Monday. On Saturday around noon, Rose's retinopathy caused a hemorrhage in her left eye. "It was one of the scariest things I've ever experienced—it was horrible," she said. "I contacted my OB, he made some quick arrangements, and by Saturday evening, my baby was born via c-section."

While complications do occur, sometimes it's more the fear of possible problems that make things go the way they do.

"I knew that, more than likely, I would have to be hooked up to an IV, as that is standard practice at my hospital for diabetics, but I hoped to avoid all drugs and not to use the IV if at all possible," said Joy McCarren. "I had to be induced, which I'd hoped to avoid. The induction did not work, however, and I ended up having a c-section. If I'd not been induced, the doctors had told me that they would prep me for the IV to be inserted, but unless absolutely necessary, I wouldn't have to be hooked up. This would have left me free to move around as much on my own and change positions, etc., as often and as much as I wanted."

McCarren was 40 weeks and 2 days when her daughter was born and had fought with her doctors to go 40 weeks without interventions. "They had wanted to induce me at 38 weeks, which is standard practice for diabetics," she said. "Because I had kept tight control throughout my pregnancy and because my baby was not measuring large and there were no other complications, I was allowed to go 40 weeks. That fell on a Sunday, so they tried to induce me on Monday. When that was unsuccessful, they did a c-section on Tuesday, two days after my due date."


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Last Modified Date: July 17, 2013

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