New mums with type 1 diabetes need more support

New mothers with type 1 diabetes need more support after they give birth, new research suggests.

According to the findings, holding a newborn baby, while at the same time dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels immediately after the birth, can be overwhelming and is just one of the areas where new mothers need more support.

"Of course, it's incredibly frightening if you're holding a newborn and at the same time get so dizzy that you're forced to sit down. It naturally creates fear," explained Karolina Lindén of the University of Gothenburg.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's own immune system destroys cells in the pancreas called beta cells, which are responsible for making insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Daily insulin therapy is needed to treat the condition.

Type 1 diabetes is linked with a number of increased health risks for both mothers and their babies, such as a worsening of diabetes complications, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) at birth, premature delivery and difficulty delivering, due to the baby's larger size.

According to Ms Lindén's research, despite the highly specialised care a woman with type 1 diabetes can expect to receive during her pregnancy, additional support may be needed after the child is born and the family leaves the maternity ward.

She looked at 168 women during pregnancy and up to six months after birth, and while most managed well, two in three said that they experienced problems with unstable blood sugar levels when they went home. One in four had particularly difficult problems.

It was unclear whether these fluctuations in blood sugar levels were due to breastfeeding or changes in hormones.

The research found that while women were supposed to have been given information about unstable blood sugar levels, ‘when you're pregnant and are going to give birth, focus is mainly on the delivery'.

"It's hard to take in information about what will happen afterwards, and I believe this is true of all expectant parents," Ms Lindén said.

Overall, one-third of the women said that they needed more professional support after giving birth. Ms Lindén suggested that follow-up appointments over the phone or online could help women who find it difficult to get to hospital diabetes clinics.

"What's important is that a follow-up is done, and under the best of circumstances, it should be possible to identify which women need more professional support after coming home from hospital," she commented.

She noted that women with type 1 diabetes are used to managing their condition and overall, they are a group that does not often receive attention.

"Unfortunately, they are not always seen. But it's a question of their right to receive support based on their circumstances even after the child has been born when the intensive care during the pregnancy has ended," she added.


[Posted: Thu 05/04/2018]

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