Managing diabetes during pregnancy is becoming a reality for more women than ever

SUPPORT NEEDED: Expecting her first child, Jade Mercer said it could be chaotic managing diabetes and pregnancy. Photo: Peter Hardin 200218PHC021
SUPPORT NEEDED: Expecting her first child, Jade Mercer said it could be chaotic managing diabetes and pregnancy. Photo: Peter Hardin 200218PHC021

PREGNANCY for many can be a blessing and a surprise, but for a diabetic it can be chaotic.

And managing diabetes during pregnancy is becoming a reality for more women than ever.

Despite managing type 1 diabetes since she was five, falling pregnant for the first time has taken the management of Tamworth woman Jade Mercer’s condition to the “next level”.

“Being pregnant there’s a lot more pressure in terms of more risks, I suppose,” Mrs Mercer said.

“What is already quite a difficult disease to manage becomes even more chaotic during pregnancy.”

Managing the condition has changed a lot from the times insulin was self-administered with a syringe. But despite technology advancing, Mrs Mercer said support was still thin on the ground.

“It’s pretty limited,” she said.

“Any specialist services for ladies with type 1 who want to fall pregnant, there’s nothing.

“I don’t access an endocrinologist here, I FaceTime my endocrinologist in Newcastle which is really, really good.”

Educator Kate Ryan, from local diabetes service What Is Your Type, said there were a few factors behind more women developing type 2, and particularly, gestational diabetes.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Diabetes educator Kate Ryan, left, and dietitian Kylie Norman have teamed-up to provide more support for diabetics in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin 190218PHA005

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Diabetes educator Kate Ryan, left, and dietitian Kylie Norman have teamed-up to provide more support for diabetics in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin 190218PHA005

“Obesity is increasing, but also the criteria for diagnosing gestational diabetes changed,” she said.

Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and certain ethnic groups are more prone to gestational diabetes.

Ms Ryan has joined forces with Tamworth dietitian and Well Nourished owner Kylie Norman to offer education sessions to help people manage type 2 diabetes and run clinics on managing diabetes through pregnancy.

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It was formed to address soaring rates of diabetes with close to 15 per cent of women experiencing gestational diabetes.

Six years ago, the rate was closer to nine per cent.

“There’s no other private services available for women like that in town,” Ms Norman said.

Ms Ryan said the service was also focused-on following-up after birth.

“Fifty per cent of women with gestational diabetes go on to get type 2 in the next 20 years,” she said.

“Follow up is a big part of it, which we haven’t focused on as much as the past, certainly working in the public system it’s always been the antenatal component that every one is very focused on.”

According to the Australia Health Tracker Map, West Tamworth has the sixth highest rate of diabetes in the state, with 9.4 per cent of people living with the condition.

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