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Oct 28 / Caro

Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: The Book

It has suddenly occurred to me that it wouldn’t feel right to conclude my type 1 diabetes and pregnancy chronicle without mentioning one of the only books I’m aware of which deals specifically with the situation, and which I’ve personally found to be a helpful resource.

Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes, as the title clearly implies, is written specifically for women who had diabetes before becoming pregnant. Many of the well known pregnancy guides include references to diabetes in pregnancy, but they almost always cover more about gestational diabetes then the pre-existing kind. This may be understandable given their relative prevalence, but frustrating nonetheless. And there are almost no books which talk only about diabetes in pregnancy, as opposed to diabetes management in general, with a chapter devoted to the journey to parenthood. Given that it’s such a monumental challenge, a single chapter can rarely do it justice. (Hell, this blog, where I’ve been writing almost daily for a few months now, doesn’t do it justice!)

Written by Cheryl Alkon, a 30+ year veteran of type 1, who now has two healthy children of her own, it’s a down to earth, honest girlfriend-to-girlfriend account of the kinds of issues and challenges that can arise in a diabetic pregnancy, and a wealth of tips on how to deal with them. It’s written in a straightforward, readable style, rather than being a heavy clinical handbook. The book covers everything from pre-conception goals, through what to expect from your blood sugars in each trimester, to labour and birth and even the early post-natal days. It includes lots of stories from women who’ve had their own successful diabetic pregnancies, and this kind of reassurance and the not-feeling-alone factor, is invaluable. Reading the book months before I actually fell pregnant, I loved the fact that the opening chapter is entitled: “You Can Definitely Do This – And Do It Well.”

The main drawback of the book for a British audience is it’s very obvious American origin. Some sections are therefore not entirely relevant – such as how to choose doctors and some of the details of appointment and testing schedules – and blood glucose numbers are reported exclusively in mg/dL. However, diabetes is still diabetes and although we may work in different units and see a different selection of health care professionals to our friends across the pond, our blood sugars, and our behaviour, are still subject to the same hormonal influences no matter where we live.

The book has been a go-to resource for me throughout the last 9 months – more, in fact, as I read it cover to cover prior to conception! It’s useful to have an easy reference of whether something I’ve been experiencing is typical or a potential sinister sign, and to have that without having to brave the internet which is prone to throwing up horror stories and an excess of information that a worried, hormonal mess can deal without having to wade through. The book’s presence on my shelf has been as comforting as it has been useful.

If you have type 1 (or type 2) diabetes and are thinking of conceiving, trying to conceive or already pregnant, I can highly recommend it!

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