My gestational diabetes induction birth stories
Here are my gestational diabetes induction birth stories. With gestational diabetes, many ladies may be advised to have an induction of labour. Induction may be unknown and for many ladies, a scary and daunting, unnatural process. Many ladies hear lots of horror stories surrounding induction and so I felt it was time to share my induction birth stories.
We explain induction, reasons for induction, national guidelines, lots of information around different methods of induction and links to research on our induction page.
My induction birth stories – Jo, Author of Gestational Diabetes UK
I only know gestational diabetes, I only know induction and so I can’t say whether an induction is more painful etc as it is all I know. But I will share what my personal induction birth stories and experiences have been. Two gestational diabetes pregnancies with early diagnosis, despite losing 5 stone in weight, I still got diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 11 weeks in my second pregnancy. I controlled my gestational diabetes both times with fairly high amounts of insulin, around 200 units a day. I required more fast release insulin in my first pregnancy and more slow release in my second.
In my first pregnancy I struggled more with post meal readings. I was testing at 2 hours post meals and followed poor dietary advice as advised by my dietician.
In my second pregnancy I had researched gestational diabetes in depth, was learning lots about the condition, had set up the Facebook support group and was testing my levels at one hour post meals, plus additionally to test snacks and for spikes. My post meal levels were very well controlled following my own dietary advice, but I chased my fasting levels throughout, having to increase my night time insulin every couple of days.
With my first baby I knew nothing about induction, it had not been mentioned at all. I had been told to expect a big baby due to gestational diabetes.
This was at the Rosie maternity hospital, Addenbrookes in Cambridge.
On the Tuesday I went to my diabetes antenatal clinic as normal and when they measured the baby it showed he hadn’t grown and had actually lost a little bit of weight from the previous scan 2 weeks ago, so they decided it was best for me to be induced. The consultant examined me and it showed that I was actually 2-3 cm dilated so she said she’d book me in for an induction on the Thursday. The only symptom of anything changing, was my blood sugar levels dropping to more ‘normal levels’ and a few more hypos. I had no other symptoms that anything was wrong what so ever and my placenta function showed fine on scans.
I was told I would be put on a sliding scale once in established labour. But up until then I was advised to eat and drink as normal, taking my normal insulin doses.
38+4 I was taken straight up to the delivery unit in the Rosie in our own room. They examined me and put a hormone patch (propess pessary) behind my cervix, which looked like a small tea bag on a string or a flat tampon and they attached the cord to the inside of my leg. It would induce my labour gently over 24 hours and they advised it was the most natural and kindest way to induce me because it would slowly build me up to the labour rather than throwing me in at the deep end.
Then came the boring bit – waiting. We just had to walk around Addenbrookes until my waters broke or contractions started and I had to go back to my room every 4 hours to be monitored. I wasn’t allowed to leave the hospital grounds. I was as active as possible, walking around, climbing stairs, bouncing on my birthing ball etc. non-stop.
I went to the toilet just before I had to be monitored and then realised I couldn’t find the cord. I’d lost the pessary down the toilet, how embarrassing! But it was OK. They put a new pessary in and it gave them a chance to see that it had started working.
Up till 10pm I’d had two different midwives monitoring me and they were both really nice, then the night shift midwife came on duty. My baby was monitored at around 9pm but that was it, after that was my blood pressure and temperature was checked once at 10pm, not every 4 hours like they originally told me.
I had period pain like cramp but started getting a really bad headache, but I didn’t really notice the contractions until about 2am. I couldn’t lay down so I bounced on my birthing ball, listening to music on my iPod. I was bouncing and singing then when I got a contraction I concentrated on breathing through it.
In the meantime the woman next door had been absolutely howling and bellowing for hours, so much that Gavin was singing to me to take my mind off the fact that she was obviously in agony. I went to make a cup of tea and 2 midwives outside her delivery room said that she was 3cm dilated… I couldn’t believe it, I was 3cm dilated on Tuesday & didn’t feel a thing?! I was backwards and forwards to the toilet needing to wee, even more so than normal being pregnant.
The pains started getting stronger so I tried out the TENS machine that we’d hired (an Elle Tens with a boost button for contractions), then I needed to get on the bed to lay down. The pains got stronger and stronger, came faster and lasted longer. The TENS machine was fantastic and I was so pleased I’d hired one to use.
By about 4.30am I asked Gavin to get a midwife because I wanted to try some gas & air as it was getting really painful. The midwife finally came, didn’t examine me but said I could have 2 paracetamol. She said she didn’t want to give me pain relief too early and that I needed to be in established labour.
By about 5.30am the pain was getting unbearable so Gavin called the midwife again and she said she’d be back at 6am to monitor me and baby. 6am came and went. By about 7am I felt like I was starting to lose control and couldn’t deal with the pain any longer. I kept getting a pushing urge but my waters still hadn’t broken, plus I kept thinking I had ages to go because I hadn’t been put on the glucose & insulin drips (sliding scale) as they said I would. Being my first baby I didn’t know what to expect or how much worse the pain would get.
Then I felt a bit wet below so got Gavin to look. When he did he went white as a ghost, said don’t move and called the midwife. Gavin said at that point he thought he was going to have to deliver our baby. Different midwives kept coming in saying they’d get my midwife to come to me ASAP but none of them actually done anything. I had a pushing urge and thought I was going to deliver my baby at that point but was too scared as it was just me and Gavin on our own and so I fought the urge and sensations to push.
I was in a lot of pain and my contractions were rolling one into another without a break. By about 8am finally a new midwife came in and examined me. I was 7cm dilated. She got Gavin to hook up the gas & air (we didn’t know it was in a cupboard behind us all along) and she told me the baby was going be here in the next 30 mins to hour! Her and another midwife kept saying they couldn’t believe how fast I’d done it, how long I’d gone without pain relief and that I couldn’t be a first time mum.
They asked to attach a clip to my baby’s head to monitor him which I agreed to.
The gas & air was fantastic! After no pain relief for so long it made such a difference, it gives you that merry drunk feeling!
Pushing the head out was difficult and it felt like I was going to pass out because I kept going dizzy. It stung a bit but then all of a sudden it was a warm gushing feeling and they plopped this little bluey grey mini Gavin on my chest! Mackinley was so gorgeous, his eyes were open & all I kept thinking was it’s a mini Gavin with my big blue eyes.
Mackinley was born at 8.39am, weighing 7lb exactly. So much for having a huge baby due to gestational diabetes. He even needed tiny sized baby clothes!
My waters didn’t break, they came when Mackinley was delivered. My labour was recorded as 15 mins long, it was longer but they had other emergencies they were dealing with and I presume that’s why my paperwork didn’t match my actual birth.
I was only pushing for 20 mins which apparently is great for a 1st time mum, usually at least an hour. I had a small 2nd degree tear but nothing too awful and I was allowed gas & air while they stitched me up so it was OK.
Gavin was fantastic & I couldn’t of done it without him or with anyone else, he knew exactly what to say and do. He kept me focused. How he managed to watch me go through pain like that for hours on end I don’t know and bless his heart, he stayed as calm as he could and made sure the midwives done what I wanted.
The midwife examining my placenta asked if I was a heavy smoker as my placenta was in such a state after giving birth. I didn’t smoke, my placenta had deteriorated because of the gestational diabetes.
Back then they didn’t have the same protocol for checking babies blood sugar levels after birth at my hospital at that time. He was fit and healthy. We spent one night in hospital and was allowed to go home the next day. So a Thursday induction and allowed home Saturday afternoon.
They did not monitor or mention my gestational diabetes throughout my induction or birth. They did not check my levels whilst in their care at all and I was not advised to be tested for type 2 diabetes at any point.
The only problem we had later on was that he refused to feed, jaundice set in and we were rushed back to A&E due to this. Looking back now, I wish the hospital had checked better that we had established feeding as he even refused bottle feeds.
My second sugar baby (6 years later) was born in a totally different hospital, Hull Womens & Children’s hospital. We moved mid pregnancy to a different part of the country, but the plan from the start was to induce at 38 weeks as per the NICE guidelines recommended at that time and the hospital where I transferred to offered the same advice. I was happy with that, knowing what I did about my placenta deterioration from my last pregnancy.
One important thing to remember about induction is that there are different methods available, it doesn’t have to be chemical, it doesn’t have to be a drip where many say they feel ‘tied to the bed’ etc.
I was offered a choice of a propess 24 hour pessary induction like I’d had before, or a balloon catheter induction. A balloon catheter is a Foley catheter which is inserted into the vaginal passage and then a balloon at the end of the catheter is filled with saline to inflate it. It is a non chemical way to induce as this can cause dilation. If I had the balloon catheter method I would be allowed to go home after having it inserted and then return within 24 hours if my waters didn’t break beforehand. *Please note, it is very rare that hospitals allow women with gestational diabetes to go home after starting the induction process. Hull and one other hospital are the only hospitals we’ve seen this mentioned in.
Knowing how fast my labour was last time and how well the pessary worked, plus my concerns over complications with gestational diabetes, I chose to be in hospital and have the propess pessary again.
At 38+2 I went in for my planned induction. This time I was told that there would be no need for a sliding scale and so once again I ate and drank as normal with my insulin. That said, my blood sugar levels had dropped again at 36 weeks and although I was on around 200 units of insulin a day, by the time my induction date arrived I only had a very small insulin dose with my lunch (compared to what I had been having) and that was all I had that day as my levels had normalised so much.
For this induction I was on a ward with 6 beds in a bay (with all women being induced), rather than being in a delivery suite room like at Cambridge. I was also told that Gavin would not be able to stay past 9pm unless I was in labour, which worried me. I wasn’t keen to stay in hospital on my own and was worried that he may miss the birth if he was sent home.
Once in labour I would be transferred upstairs to the labour ward to give birth. I had harvested colostrum which I took in with me (despite my consultant looking shocked when I’d initially brought it up). My colostrum was taken by a midwife to be stored on the ward for after birth.
They monitored baby and I was examined and was 1-2cm dilated before they inserted the propess pessary at around 11.30am.
I was much better looked after with this induction and a midwife checked on me much more often. Once again I waddled around as much as possible and bounced on my ball. It was harder to stay as active during this induction as I suffered with SPD and so waddling around was very painful, but I knew it would help get things moving.
It was harder being on the ward with other ladies being induced as many of them were quite loud, partners were noisy and when some ladies were struggling with pain it wasn’t pleasant listening to other mothers trying to cope with the pains when you are in the same area.
I was backwards and forwards to the toilet a lot, something I remembered from my previous induction too and so I thought this was a good sign.
Many ladies were struggling with the pain and asking for help with pain relief and the midwife came to reassure me that although things were happening faster with the other ladies, not to worry as inductions can take a long time. I knew this and had prepared that they can take days for some ladies and may for me, but I was getting pains which I had breathing through and bouncing on my ball.
I lost track of time with this induction, but my waters broke whilst I was walking to the toilet in the middle of the corridor, but not in a big gush, just trickles. Which was a new experience as they hadn’t broken with Mackinley.
I went back to the bed and started having very strong contractions so got out my TENS machine. I have a big fear of needles (despite being on insulin since 13 weeks and fragmin blood thinning injections since 32 weeks) and so it was important to me to cope with the pain as best I could without needing any needles, cannulas or an epidural. Although I was happy to take pain relief if I needed it, I wanted to go for as long as I could using breathing techniques and my TENS machine.
The midwife wanted to monitor baby, but my contractions started coming thick and fast and I couldn’t lay still enough for the monitors to be strapped around my belly. I got a bit of a telling off, but in a nice way, as I was on the ward and hadn’t mentioned that things were progressing as much as they had and so they had to call up to the delivery suite pretty quickly as when she examined me I was 7cm dilated.
They removed the pessary and asked if I wanted to walk or be wheeled up to the delivery suite. I didn’t want to sit down as I was coping better by standing up and so I walked very slowly holding a midwife’s hand with Gavin following behind with the bags! I nearly gave birth in the lift on the way up!
I made it into the delivery suite, got on the bed, was given gas & air and they put a clip onto my baby’s head to monitor him as I still couldn’t lay still enough to attach straps around my belly. My body took over and I knew I needed to push, so I did. 3 pushes and Finlay was born at 2.44am weighing 7lb 9oz.
We had skin to skin straight away and after Finlay being weighed and I was stitched (once again I had a 2nd degree tear), he breast fed for almost an hour. It was lovely to be given the time alone together, just the three of us while he breast fed. Something that I wasn’t given the opportunity to do with my first baby.
Finlay’s blood sugar levels at Hull had to be monitored every 3 hours for 24 hours (as per their neonatal hypoglycaemia policy *Policies vary in different hospitals) and then there was an additional 24 hours of monitoring. Finlay passed all his blood sugar levels and so I did not need my colostrum for this purpose. We did however struggle with a good latch for breast feeding and so the midwives wanted me to express more colostrum. When they looked for my colostrum they couldn’t find it which was disappointing due to the amount of hours I’d painstakingly harvested for. But I was thankful that he didn’t need it to raise his blood sugar levels.
We were in for 2 nights and allowed home the next day – so Tuesday induction and came home Friday morning.
Hull had tested my blood sugar levels about 4 times during my entire stay. After birth they asked how my levels were and when I tested they were fine. They did not advise anything around being tested for type 2 diabetes following birth. However as my pregnancy had started in Cambridge, Addenbrookes had already booked my follow up diabetes test when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This goes to show how different care can be across the country.
I booked a HbA1c blood test with my GP (which I had to fight the receptionist over to book) after 13 weeks post partum, which came back normal. I will then be tested annually, but I have to book these appointments myself. No reminders are sent.
So maybe I’ve been lucky, maybe my body was ready both times at 38 weeks to have my babies, but there are two examples of good, positive induction experiences. The pessary being the only intervention. My intervention did not lead to a cascade of interventions and we had no complications. My births were not spontaneous, but they were very much natural births in every other aspect in my eyes.
Being on high amounts of insulin, having placenta deterioration with my first and researching gestational diabetes, I was happy to be induced in both my pregnancies and felt I made informed decisions which were best for my babies at those times.
Both my babies grew on the 50th centile and my first stopped growing, so it shows that despite the well known fact that gestational diabetes causes excessive growth, my diabetes was well controlled and my babies did not suffer macrosomia as a result or any other complications. Had Mackinley fed, I don’t believe he would had suffered jaundice either.
My gestational diabetes presents as soon as I am pregnant and my insulin resistance requires quite high amounts of insulin, strict diet and exercise to keep my babies growth ‘average’, but it goes to show that despite having early placenta deterioration due to gestational diabetes and high risk pregnancies, if controlled well, gestational diabetes can be managed.
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I will be adding lots more induction birth stories to the website soon. If you have a story you would like to share then please get in contact.