Caring for babies of diabetic mothers could be easier if preventive measures are undertaken during prenatal care. This is an essential part to achieve a healthy pregnancy and delivery. It includes careful management of the diet, checking the blood sugar level and the proper use of insulin. Maintaining the blood sugar at normal level will lower the risk to the baby.
The babies need special treatment. The kind of treatment will depend upon how controlled the diabetes is during the latter part of the pregnancy. It will also depend on the condition during the delivery process while the mother is in labor. The baby’s doctor will base the specific treatment on the following:
- baby’s medical history and health status as a whole
- extent of the diabetes
- baby’s tolerance of the type of treatment
- prognosis on the condition’s course
- mother’s preference and opinion
The baby’s blood sugar level will be closely monitored. How do they do this in one so young? They actually have three options. They may draw blood from a heel stick. Or they may draw blood with a needle in the arm of the baby or they may do so through an umbilical catheter.
They may have to administer glucose to the baby as a first feeding in the form of a mixture of water and glucose. Some may need to be given glucose intravenously. With the baby’s blood sugar being closely monitored, they will be able to watch for hypoglycemia to happen again.
If the baby is under respiratory distress, a breathing machine may be used to give oxygen. Also if there is any injury sustained during the delivery, they will be attended to and taken cared of. The same will be done with any problems occurring with birth defect. At the same time the caretakers will watch for low calcium level.
To see if appropriate care is given, CEMACH which is acronym for the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Child Health checked on this. Their findings showed that a lot of diabetic mothers Glucofort in Wales, England and Northern Ireland have their babies admitted to a special care unit. Apparently, this is due to hospital practice policies.
They found that over 50% of the babies admitted were preventable because there was no medical indication for the admission. In some cases they said the reason was because the babies were not kept adequately warm. This only leads to the separation of babies and parents.
The Diabetes in Pregnancy released its findings on the care for baby after birth. The findings of a national enquiry also indicated there were obstacles to breastfeeding although this has been proven to be best in caring for babies of diabetic mothers as well as for those of non-diabetic mothers. These were:
- Early feeding in the labor ward was not given to 25% of the newborn.
- The first feed given to 2/3 of the babies was infant formula.
- The reason to use infant formula feeding was the mother’s choice not to breast feed.
The recommendations are as follows:
- Diabetic mothers should be advised about the advantages of breastfeeding.
- Babies should stay with the mothers right after birth as long as there are no postnatal complications. This helps set up breastfeeding and control the babies temperature.
- Breastfeeding should be encouraged during the first hour of birth although support should be given to the all mothers in the their feeding choice.
- Health care teams should be trained better with improved guidelines on how to manage the caring for babies of diabetic mothers.
The Chief executive of CEMACH, Richard Congdon, said that although they were able to identify problems in their national inquiry, most babies of diabetic mothers receive high quality care. But breastfeeding should be encouraged and the same is true for the babies to stay with their mothers. This will be better in caring for babies of diabetic mothers.