Women with diabetes – things you need to know (but maybe don’t)

Rosemary Fincham, a mother of two who has diabetes, from Eastbourne, UK, reviews the DVD Women with diabetes – things you need to know (but maybe don’t). Produced by researchers at Queen's University Belfast, and funded by Diabetes UK, the DVD is used as a pre-pregnancy counselling resource throughout Northern Ireland.

I am an insulin dependent diabetic and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes over 25 years ago at the age of 21. Since then I have had two children.

Although I am not planning another pregnancy, I was able to appreciate how useful and reassuring I would have found this DVD, had it been available before I had my children. I felt nothing had been avoided or left unanswered. From preconception to post-birth, all queries and concerns I may have had have been addressed.

Personally, I think this DVD should be available to every sexually active diabetic woman of childbearing age. I’d like to see at least one copy of it at every GP surgery and for all diabetic women to have the opportunity to view it and to know that a copy would be available for them to borrow before considering pregnancy.

It seems an invaluable resource and an excellent way of communicating what every diabetic woman needs to be aware of before conceiving, during pregnancy and post-birth. I feel that I cannot recommend it more highly.

It begins with the reminder that a diabetic woman who is not planning a pregnancy needs to check that she is using a suitable contraceptive.

Each of the three sections of the DVD is concluded with a checklist of actions needed to ensure that the woman remains in the best of health and fully informed.

I feel a slight regret that this DVD was not around during my pregnancies as I was unaware of the importance of taking folic acid before conceiving. Also, I had assumed that all diabetic mothers were encouraged to have caesarean births – I now realise that, obviously, this was not the case.

Often when you attend antenatal clinics you are not necessarily aware of what you should be asking and so do not automatically receive reassurance. Here, the stages of your unborn baby’s development are explained and how these affect the expectant mother, together with an explanation of the change in her blood sugar readings and how it is normal that her insulin intake will need to be adjusted.

My daughter was born 17 years ago and, during her first night, was taken to the special care baby unit. This was very upsetting for me as I had never visited the unit or been aware that my baby may need some specialist care during the first days of life. In this DVD this is addressed and can only be reassuring to a new mother who finds her new baby removed from her care because of possible low blood sugars, etc.

All possible fears and anxieties are removed by the gentle and honest way the pregnant women speak of their own personal experiences. This reassures all viewers of the care and support they should expect to be provided with at the various stages of their pregnancies.

First published DPPI Journal, Issue 74: Autumn 2011

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