Diabetes, Stress, Career, Pregnancy

I’d love to hear from others who have experienced the effects of stress on their diabetes. Although not addressed by most doctors, I’ve realized that there is a strong correlation between my level of stress and my blood sugars/A1Cs. I’d love to know some tips that have helped others achieve good blood sugars while being under stress or thinking towards pregnancy.

The eye opening experience for me was when I started my first year of teaching after finishing a masters degree and was teaching at a school that was very experiential and teachers were expected to recreate the wheel each time, creating their own curriculum and going over the top. Needless to say, I wasn’t well supported and was very stressed out. In a matter of a few months my A1C jumped over 4% and I was a disaster. I took a medical leave of absence from my job and have had plenty of time to reflect on my life with diabetes, thus leading to a book writing opportunity. I’ve spent the past 6 months substitute teaching, allowing me to strike much more of a positive balance of career and diabetes and my A1C is the best it’s been in 15 years. As I consider my options for a career in teaching this fall, I wonder if diabetes is such a full-time career in itself to be able to have a full-time career as demanding as teaching. is while my health is potentially sacrificed My husband and I are two years away from considering pregnancy and I know at that point, my A1C should be 6%. I’d also like to prove to myself that I can keep it at a consistent 6% 9 months before I become pregnant so that I know I can do it during pregnancy. I’m a little over 1% away from my target but believe me, it’s taken a lot of focus and energy at the expense of other things in my life.

I’d love to hear what others have to say about careers, pregnancy, and stress as it relates to being successful with diabetes management. I’ve always been one to keep the attitude of “diabetes hasn’t and won’t prevent me from doing anything in my life” but I’m now beginning to wonder! The cost of medical supplies, the emotional toll of diabetes, and then the potential cost of not working full time seems to be the result of living with diabetes. Although my husband and I aren’t in any financial challege, the cost of not having a cure for diabetes is quite high! I continue to volunteer my time and energy with JDRF in hopes that some day I will be able to not have the additional hurdles that come with diabetes.

I can completely relate to what you write here, Kate.

My husband and I are on a similar timeline… I fortunately have a very flexible lifestyle, as I am working on a PhD. Recently I started working a 9-5 job and I found it very difficult to control my blood sugar (mostly because I forgot to check often).

I will be curious about the other responses…

Here is a blog post that I wrote recently that relates to finding this balance between not letting diabetes prevent you from doing anything, but still taking extremely good care of yourself. I’m trying to find the same balance… it’s not easy.

Hope that there will be more helpful responses!

Hi, Kate,
I totally understand what you mean about teaching and diabetes. Plus I spent 4 years at a charter school where we had to create the curriculum every day and it is very stressful. I have made a switch from the classroom to Special Education, partly because I found it so hard to test and keep track of my BG when I was with kids all day. I’m hoping SPED will give me a balance between teaching, paperwork and meetings so I will have time to test and eat. Good luck with your goal of an A1C of 6%. I would guess that in planning to get pregnant and then during the pregnancy it might be motivating to keep to a strict diet in order to maintain those BG numbers in the normal range. I am recently diagnosed so was lucky enough to have my son before diabetes.

Wow, it’s like you’re writing my biography, Kate! So many of us relate to where you are. All of us see diabetes as a full-time job. I have had so much support from this community as I get my body ready for pregnancy, too. My A1C is the lowest ever - 6.9 - and working toward 6. My stress level is lower than it has ever been and I am seeing the results in a lower A1C. I’ve reduced the stress through working my diabetes into my teaching routine better.

Like you, I have found myself in a non-traditional teaching environment. I am a “private” teacher and a contractor at that (which means I have to get insurance through my husband’s employment). What that means for me is that I have the potential to set my own schedule. I work through a high school choir program and teach private music lessons in an adjoining classroom (the size of a closet) as an extracurricular activity that children in their program can elect to do.

I’m in my eighth year of this and in that time have done a lot wrong. For five years, I booked myself right through lunch. It was a terrible idea and I have learned not to do that anymore. I now also eat a healthy breakfast religiously and don’t schedule kids before 9am. Tip #1: I make it a habit to test my blood sugar after every three 30-minute lessons (oh, for a CGMS). If I go low during a 30-minute lesson, I am out of commission and can’t work with that client (or charge them!). So I have to test ALL the time. Tip #2 (harder if you’re a sub, I’m sure): In my studio, I keep a little refrigerator (which I pay $30 each year for the permit to have it - supposedly covers electricity costs).

I used to work night jobs to bring in extra money, but working 12 hours a day and commuting as much as 80 miles around the metroplex in a day to make it all happen took its toll. I was living in the city, commuting to the suburbs to work in good school districts and working retail or restaurant jobs in the evenings back in the city. I also overtreated all the lows out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to teach my lessons, but the highs during my lessons in the afternoon were just awful. 300s and the like. I ate on the go. Now, I pack a totally healthy lunch with planned snacks (Tip 3). I keep healthy low snacks in my filing cabinet and fridge, too (Tip 4). And change for the coke machine should I have to resort to that. (Tip 5)

I have considered working as a more traditional classroom teacher, but honestly, I find that my role in the school serves a vital and fulfilling purpose. I can teach, inspire, motivate, and develop relationships with students and colleagues. AND most importantly, I can work my diabetes into it. Or I’m trying anyway. Obviously, I have had years where I have tried to ignore it and have suffered the consequences - high A1Cs, always feeling sick, tiring myself, complications. But I am making my life work now. I am a high stress person, always on the go.

If you haven’t already, you should join the Teachers with Diabetes group here on TuDiabetes. Maybe if a traditional teacher role is your dream, the folks there can help you with management techniques.

Thanks for your replies. It’s great to at least know others who struggle with this!


Let me be the first to tell you “it’s possible and you can do it”! I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004 and I had my daughter in 2005. I wasn’t trying to have a baby at the time but let’s just say my husband had just came home from his tour in Iraq and bam I was prego a month later…my A1c at the time was 5.6 at the time so my endo wasn’t worried…

Being prego with Diabetes is stressful, I’m not going to lie to you. I was blessed because my OBGYN saw me every 3 wks in my first trimester, every 2 in my 2nd and every week in my third. We also decided to take my baby 2 weeks early because he didn’t want me or her to have any health issues he helped me stay controlled and whenever I had an issue with high bg’s he would call me back and help me correct the issue. I think the most stressful thing for me was not knowing if what I was doing or wasn’t doing hurt my baby…I prayed an awful lot and PRAYER helped me stay sane…I think I felt more sorry for my husband…lol he gained all of my weight and had all of the cravings I didn’t have

Work wise I didn’t have any issues. I didn’t have a stressful job. You’ll find your balance, patients and when get stressed out you’ll look down at your belly and it’s calm you down. I know I said this before but I PRAYED a lot


When I read what you wrote, I instantly felt this great sigh of relief… “Someone else out there understands!”. I am also a teacher and I feel that it is very difficult to teach with diabetes. I feel sometimes as though diabetes, itself, is a full-time job. Thanks so much for making me feel better - it’s nice to know that someone out there understands!!!

My conclusion is that diabetes is a full-time job to focus on. If you are teaching, teaching is more than a full-time job. And if you are teaching at an experiential school with no curriculum, that means diabetes = 1.0 FTE, work = 1.5 FTE so in essence I tried to work 2.5 full time jobs and I proved to myself it was a disaster. What tips do you have to successfully manage teaching and diabetes? My last long-term sub job, I was super open with my 2nd graders and they loved learning about diabetes. Because I was and still am in the process of writing a story about growing up with diabetes, I started reading it to them. My story got them super stoked to write their own personal narratives, focusing on powerful and descriptive writing. It was rewarding for all and my diabetes as pretty well managed then.

Hi Kate,
I got T1 when I was 3 months pregnant. It was a lot to deal with at one time. Next thing I knew I was on a super-restricted diet, struggling to bring myself up to speed on what diabetes was, and terrified for the health of my baby. At the time I was diagnosed, I didn’t even know that fruit had carbs! I already had an endo because I got Grave’s disease (a thyroid autoimmune disorder) 10 years earlier. Everything worked out fine and my baby girl was perfectly healthy. Everyone was sure that I was going to have a “big” baby and I didn’t have any NB size clothes. I did such a good job of managing things while I was pregnant that my little 6.5lb-er only had clothes that were way too big.

Since I started off my diabetes by being forced to count and record every carb (because I was terrified for my baby,) it was really easy to continue after she was born and I truly think that this data is imperative in having and maintaining a good A1C.
My endo was actually more concerned that I would have issues after my baby was born because apparently, once your baby is beyond 3 months; their tiny (and healthy) beginning of a pancreas actually helps to stabilize your blood sugar.
I’m now a single Mom and manage my T1, my baby, my house, my finances, my full time job, and my dog and cat. Yes, I stress out but because of making myself check my sugar regularly and recording everything religiously, I still have a good A1C.
I also pack my lunch most days and keep snacks around that I’ve had a good experience with in the past.
All that being said, I was a teacher for a while in an inner-city middle school. It was the hardest job I’ve ever had and I have to say that I don’t think I would have been able to do everything I am doing now with that job instead of my current one (scientist…but mostly at a desk and not in the lab.) I think there could be some teaching positions that could work. Obviously don’t try to teach inner-city middle school. You just have to find the right one for you that allows to have the time you need to stop and check your sugar. Sounds like you’ve had a more positive experience recently. I think you can still do everything you want to and manage your diabetes. Good luck!

Hi all. I would like to say diabetes and pregnancy is very, very do-able. You apply the same hard work that you have always applied with being diabetic and you will succeed. I’ve had diabetes 13 years and now have two kids (4 & 5.5 yrs)!! I was working at my job during the first pregnancy (stress) and then a stay at home mom with a 1 1/2 year old during the second one (stress again :)). The first pregnancy I was on Humalog only and the second both Humalog and Lantus.

Both pregnancies were considered “High Risk”- I guess. I actually liked it because I got a TON of attention from OBGYN, Endo, High Risk doctor, etc. I got to see the doctors more than anyone with regular pregnancies. I have a ton of sonogram pics in their baby books now and knew every step of the way what was going on during my pregnancies. I liked the extra attention and I wanted to know every detail!

A couple of things: Diabetics tend to have higher birth-weight babies. Mine were. 8.7 lb boy a month early. 10.10 girl second pregnancy on time. Both kids are healthy as horses- just a little big! They take the insulin you inject and it creates a higher birth weight. Needless to say I had 2 C-Sections, and then my doctor thought it would not be good for me to have more due to my age and two back to back pregnancies. I also learned during my second pregnancy I carried 17 pounds of extra fluid, due to the diabetes. Also, as soon as the babies are born they will probably have a “low”. They are given formula to raise their blood sugars immediately because they have become so dependent on your insulin. Their natural insulin kicks in. My son was fine as soon as he had insulin. My daughter was in intensive care for a week because they had to ween her off my insulin and the formula did not raise her blood sugars. Don’t get me wrong… I do not want to cause any concern here. These are important things to be aware of and ask questions about with your Endo and OBGYN. I just thought that once I had the kids we were good to go but there are important things to understand about how our insulin intake can effect kids while you are still pregnant.

I’ll cut to today. Both kids are healthy, don’t have diabetes (mine isn’t genetic), healthy as horses and are very “normal” in their size!!! Having children while being diabetic I felt was a huge accomplishment and diabetes did not holding me back from something me and my husband truly wanted. Be sure to ask a lot of questions, understand everything, don’t be scared at all, LISTEN to your doctors and ENJOY the process and GO FOR IT!!

I’m not sure about my advice on working and staying home during pregnancy. My work just had to understand it was what was going on, it was important to me, and I would go to every single appointment. By the way, my A1Cs were always upper 6’s to 7’s during both. I do also wish I had considered the pump because it was a lot of work with my testing and injections and the amount of insulin I took was extremely high (actually scary), but my doctors guided me through my pregnancies very successfully. As far as stress, you just have to de-stress yourself. It’s YOUR time and you need to do it for you and your unborn child. I think I took LOTS of naps!!

If anyone wants to reach out to me, please do. I’m very familiar with work, stress, diabetes, and pregnancy! Love, Dana

PS- I am also back to working full-time (stress!)

Hi Dana,
I’m pretty sure that diabetecs often have larger babies because your baby is feeding from your bloodstream and when your sugar is high, your baby is basically getting an ice-cream sunday :)…so they grow larger. I don’t think that it is possible for the baby to be large because of the amount of insulin used by a pregnant mother. I just want to clarify that on here since it seems like a lot of people following this thread haven’t had babies yet. Congratulations on your healthy family!
Also, diabetics often have babies with jaundice (I never could get a very good explanation why…I’m not sure they know?). My baby had to stay in the hospital an extra few days and have special UV light treatments becuase of the jaundice. Just as Dana says, there are some very normal side-effects that might occur with diabetes but the Dr.s are prepared to deal with them and the babies recover very quicklly…so try not to add thinking about that stuff too much to all the other stress of baby-planning :wink:
Oh…and stick with the advice of the Obgyn and pediatrician that you chose and that you were comfortable with becuase you might see many others at the hospital and Dr’s office and everyone has a different viewpoint on diabetes and pregnancy…one pediatritian actually even told me that I was probably not healthy enough to breastfeed…Please…I’m probably healthier than him and nursing went just fine for a year :slight_smile:

I can relate to you on each factor, and say what the others say, “It’s doable.” One thing that diabetes has taught me is to be structured, yet flexible. That’s probably what makes me a good middle school teacher too:) I have a busy family between teaching, coaching, and most importantly four children, but being structured and organized really helps. Also, as a mom it is unnatural to want to put yourself first, but when it comes to d-care, you have to.

As for pregnancy, I would get paranoid at every out of norm blood sugar reading, which was not the right thing to do. As you know, stressing out only makes things worse. Your blood sugar does NOT have to be perfect during your pregnancy, so don’t allow any guilt to creep up. I would say the key is to exercise regularly before hand, and keep it going throughout the pregnancy. I was not perfect, but did my best, and had a perfect pregnancy. Also, my pregnancy was in the days preceding the pump and cgm, so you have even more helpful tools at your hand.

I know you live in the Seattle area. My endo set me up with a ob/gyn at UW who specialized in diabetes pregnancies, and he was great. He was very encouraging, and helped me all along the way. My regular endo didn’t even follow me at that time, just Dr. Brown. I don’t know if he is still there, but I would check with your endo.

Keep your chin up, and know that lots of others have been ahead of you. This site is a great resource.


Thanks for starting this discussion- seems we have a lot to say to support each other!

My brief overlap is that I too, taught for nearly 10 years. I was both a lead infant and lead toddler teacher, for the majority of time, I worked 32 hours a week. Now I am juggling being a graduate teaching assistant (grading/lecturing/organizing our certification) + learning + diabetes (of course, 32 years now), + my life!

My learning is currently a masters program, although I’m going to ask my dept to allow me to go for a PhD. I’m researching how the near environment (design elements, like houseplants) may help to buffer stress for young children. Needless to say, exercise, organization and restorative breaks are essential to me - I try to combine them to save time, like walking my dogs through our neighborhood park-like setting.

My last A1C was ‘too high’ for pregnancy, darn 7.6. I’m in my 3rd appeal for a cgms and I’ve been testing almost every hour now to try to bring that number down. At some point, my age may be a prob - I’m 36. I just didn’t meet my husband soon enough - plus I was ‘busy’ haha.

I really believe that writing is very therapeutic, for everybody, but especially folks like us, with so many irons in the fire, balls in the air, wishes in the bottle…
I just took part in a ‘writing, stress, diabetes’ study a few months ago - I haven’t seen the results of that yet.

By the way, if people are interested - there’s another good forum, positivediabeticpregnancies, on yahoo. There are a tons of touching photos of all the 'betes babies, so cute!

Being pregnant and having diabetes is a lot to deal with but with close monitoring can be properly maintained.