Managing Diabetes Post Pregnancy: Tips to help avoid Diabetes Burnout and Postpartum Depression
Oct 3, 2023, 18:20 PM
By Mayra Cantazaro, ADCES Research Committee
Both diabetes and pregnancy have been associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. With the growing prevalence of diabetes in the United States, the number of women impacted by diabetes during pregnancy is also on the rise. Mothers experience heightened emotions during pregnancy, both positive and negative. These emotions may include excitement, joy, happiness, stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, many women do not seek help because they feel embarrassed or guilty about their feelings, which can result in postpartum depression and diabetes burnout going unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated, jeopardizing both the mother's and baby's health.
It was not until I became a mother that I fully comprehended why some of my postpartum patients living with diabetes experienced diabetes burnout and depression. The days following your baby's arrival can be exhausting given the inconsistent eating and sleep schedules, on top of the stress of needing to continue to manage your diabetes with potentially multiple daily insulin injections and frequent glucose monitoring, which may seem impossible and promote such feelings of defeat, depression, and anxiety.
Some practical recommendations to keep in mind to help prevent diabetes burnout and postpartum depression are:
- Make sure you prioritize yourself because the baby, more than anything, needs their mom to be healthy.
- Create your support system of family, friends and your healthcare team.
- Work with your healthcare team to help set realistic glycemic goals and establish a plan to achieve optimal glucose levels by incorporating lifestyle and behavioral modifications.
- Incorporate a diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, red meat, sodas and juices.
- Get outside more and incorporate brisk walking with your baby for at least 20 minutes daily.
- Speak with your provider about ways to help reduce the burden of frequent blood glucose monitoring and see if you qualify for a continuous glucose meter (CGM).
- Don't be afraid to ask for help and be open to expressing your feelings and concerns with your healthcare team.
- Confidential counseling to pregnant and new moms experiencing anxiety and depression is available via a hotline from the Department of Health and Human Services. The hotline is accessible by phone or text at 833-9-HELP4MOMS (833-943-5746).
As diabetes care and education specialists, it is important to provide the necessary education and support to our patients during their pregnancy and postpartum period to help prevent and to reduce the risk of diabetes burnout. In addition, we need to support high-quality research that not only addresses diabetes management during pregnancy but also during the postpartum period to help bring awareness and establish evidence-based guidelines that may help prevent diabetes burnout.
As we prepare to celebrate Mother's Day, I want to acknowledge the incredible job every mother out there is doing and wish you a happy Mother's Day.
Nuha A. ElSayed, Grazia Aleppo, Vanita R. Aroda, Raveendhara R. Bannuru, Florence M. Brown, Dennis Bruemmer, Billy S. Collins, Marisa E. Hilliard, Diana Isaacs, Eric L. Johnson, Scott Kahan, Kamlesh Khunti, Jose Leon, Sarah K. Lyons, Mary Lou Perry, Priya Prahalad, Richard E. Pratley, Jane Jeffrie Seley, Robert C. Stanton, Robert A. Gabbay; on behalf of the American Diabetes Association, 15. Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy: Standards of Care in Diabetes—2023. Diabetes Care 1 January 2023; 46 (Supplement_1): S254–S266.