By: Katherine Marple
Final weeks of pregnancy! The third trimester brings about many more ultrasound scans and measurements taken to judge the growth and health of your child. You’ll likely be visiting your OB/GYN or maternal fetal medicine office twice per week for non-stress tests to ensure that your baby is healthy and active.
Between weeks 28 and 36, many women notice a sudden growth spurt in their baby’s measurements. My baby suddenly went from measuring “right on target” to being deemed a “big baby” around week 32. In my conversations with other type 1 mothers, I learned that they too saw a sudden growth spurt during this time.
I know that as women with diabetes , we are very sensitive when it comes to our babies’ weight in the womb. We try so hard and are very dedicated to bringing these babies into the world, proving that our diabetes does not affect every outcome in our lives. But sometimes we still become demoralized by the assumptions about diabetes and pregnancy.
My own A1C was stellar throughout pregnancy, including the six months before attempting to conceive. I was steady in the 6.5% range throughout the first half of pregnancy, bringing it down even farther, to below 6.0%, in the last weeks. I had very few fluctuations in my glucose readings and was testing so often that even if my blood sugar jumped suddenly, I was correcting and bringing it back down to range within one hour. Surely it can’t be said that my baby’s birth weight of 9.4 pounds was due to my diabetes.
When my doctors noted my baby’s growth spurt around week 32 and told me that she was going to be a big baby, my first thought was that it was my fault. I mentally badgered myself for the infrequent 200 readings and begrudged my diabetes for taking part in my pregnancy even when I was trying so hard to not allow it to affect my baby. I felt like my doctors and family would judge me, blaming her higher-than-average weight on my illness and assuming that I was in poor control of my blood glucose.
But, I knew the truth. I knew that my glucose was as close to a “normal” person’s as it had ever been and that I was doing everything I could to keep my baby healthy and strong. As it turned out, my baby was very strong. She withstood 21 hours of labor and an emergency C-section. I also had pre-eclampsia for the last three weeks of pregnancy, causing my own body to swell nearly beyond its capacity.
At just two days old, my baby was picking up her head with her strong neck muscles to look around. At six weeks old (the age she is as I’m writing this), she is the most active and alert newborn I’ve ever seen. It is still undecided if my child’s above-average birth weight was due to my diabetes or genetics. Though my and my husband’s birth weights were average, my older brother weighed nearly 10 pounds at birth, although my mother had no signs even of gestational diabetes.
The point is not to point fingers or to lay blame on anyone or anything. There are still so many things we don’t understand about this disease. Every day, medical communities are discovering something new. Managing type 1 diabetes while pregnant is very difficult. The fact that you’ve made it to the third trimester is astounding. Don’t allow anyone (even yourself) to make you feel anything less than what you are.
As mentioned above, I experienced pre-eclampsia during the last weeks of my pregnancy. I will discuss those symptoms in Article Six.