10 October 2009

Pregnancy Lows

This is a photograph of me in labour with Presley. My waters have broken and my contractions are two minutes apart. We are just about to go into hospital. Another contraction is just starting - take the photo quickly. This is me at my most pregnant.


The lovely Peggy from A Mother’s Secrets has asked for posts on the subject of pregnancy lows. This is my contribution.

All my adult life I wanted to be pregnant. I couldn’t wait to start wearing maternity clothes and walking with a waddle. I wanted to be treated differently, reverentially. That’s how I saw pregnant women, I was in awe of them.

When it finally happened to me I was thrilled. I had to keep popping to the loos at work so I could have a grin to myself. Mostly I loved being pregnant. It’s an exciting time, a time to make plans. I studied my baby books and each week read about the baby’s development. I also checked the mother’s symptoms guide and read out snippets to Andy. This week I will get a rush of hormones, apparently. This week I should have my first scan. And so on.

With Presley I sailed through my pregnancy until about 28 weeks. I narrowly failed the Glucose Tolerance test for gestational diabetes. I had to keep a food diary and regularly check my blood sugar. After a week I went back to the diabetic clinic at my local hospital. They said some of my readings were too high. Why had I eaten white bread and pizza?

This was the start of the low. I hadn’t even seen a dietician, yet I was prescribed insulin injections. I asked the doctor if there was an alternative. His caring reply was ‘your baby could die’.

I had to inform DVLA and my car insurance. If I had a hypoglycemic episode I could pass out at the wheel. I had to tell everyone at work that I was a diabetic and give them instructions in case I became ill. I had to inject myself twice a day, immediately before eating. I got used to this and could discreetly inject myself in restaurants.

I followed a low GI diet and kept my blood sugar under control. I lost weight. In fact I weighed the same the day I went into labour as I did the day I got pregnant. I probably wasn’t eating enough, but I was terrified that a single polo mint would harm my unborn child.

I had a couple of scans to check that the baby wasn’t getting too big. They estimated an 8lb baby. It was reassuring to see my child on the screen.

All through my pregnancy I had been planning a natural, active birth. I went to a wonderful yoga class to prepare my body. Andy and I went on an excellent active birth weekend. I was following a natal hypnotherapy course too. I was adamant that no one would force me to lay on a bed to give birth.

At one of my weekly diabetic clinic visits I asked the antenatal consultant whether having gestational diabetes meant my labour would be any different from normal.

I was told that I would have to be induced early. I would have continuous foetal monitoring. I would have insulin and glucose drips.

I asked if I would be able to be upright, move around? I was told no, you’ll have to lay on the bed.

When you are pregnant it is almost impossible to see beyond the birth of your baby. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a baby at home. So hearing these words was pretty devastating to me. I was worried sick that my baby would die because I had gestational diabetes and I was terrified of an inactive labour and medical intervention.

My labour was traumatic, the medics intervened, but Presley arrived, all 6lb 10oz of him. Andy jokes that he wasn’t delivered by stork, but by Dalek (venthouse)!

After a few days in the Special Care Baby Unit we took our precious boy home.

Once you’ve had the baby, and you start to take care of it, the labour and birth gains some perspective. It’s only a day or two out of the rest of your life. The most important thing is holding your new baby and caring for it. All of the worry, fear of the unknown and the pain is behind you.

You’re a parent. Now the real worrying can start!



  1. So glad you and Presley were OK. And you're right about the worrying - I'm almost completely grey under my highlights! x

  2. Wow, what a story. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes must have been such a shock and so worrying for you throughout your pregnancy. But sounds like you coped with it brilliantly and have been wonderfully pragmatic about not getting the 100% natural birth you had planned. As you say, that all becomes background once you're holding that precious bundle in your arms.

  3. Sounds like the "professionals" could have been a bit more human and understanding with you.

  4. So pleased all turned out well for you and babe. And I must say you show great stamina I could not muster a SMILE during labour...I applaud thee!!!
    I know what a kick in the teeth it is to be told you have to lay on a bed and be monitored during labour. My first ended up being an emergency c-section so my 2nd and 3rd I had to lay on a bed with monitors all through my grueling 22 hr labours but I'm proud that all I used was gas an air and that was only the final 4 hrs. well done to you xxx

  5. Hi Sandy, just checked in to see your latest news. Thanks for sharing your story about giving birth. When you're expecting you're busy making birth plans and all that, then suddenly what you want goes out the window, with scalp monitors, waters being artificially broken, & emergency c-sections (I know!). It's reassuring to see that not all women have it perfect, and yes, you're right. It's only a day or two out of your life.
    Take care & speak soon

  6. I have just written a similar post. There were some real low horrible parts to being pregnant but all that is forgotten now I have my gorgeous healthy boy.

  7. Liz, yes, that's the main thing. Thank goodness for hair dye! x

    Mamma Po, it was a shock, but all of the worry and awful diabetic clinics were worth it to get Presley out and home safely. I did get a beautiful natural labour with Cash though.

    Mwa, oh definitely. I didn't even mention in the post the awful midwife I had with Presley who put me on a syntocinon drip without my knowledge and permission - with no pain relief. Cow!

    Straw76berry, thanks. The monitoring is rough. With Presley I had to hold the monitor in place and wasn't allowed to move. I got told off when HE moved! I was luckier with Cash, the monitor was on, but the lovely midwife was relaxed about me moving and didn't mind adjusting the monitor each time. Well done on sticking to gas & air, I did the same, although I'm not sure it did anything! x

    Julie, I don't know many people who had an easy labour! Luckily I was reminded that labour is only a day or two out of your life before I had to go through it. You know there's an end to it! x

    Kelly, you're so right. Once you've got the baby it's all forgotten. It was only when I read your post I remembered I had loads of niggles and terrible heartburn!!


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