Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Contributor: Baby's Low Blood Sugar

Over the next week, we welcome some posts from a guest contributor. Amy contacted me a few weeks ago to share her birth stories. She has Type I diabetes and three sons, all born vaginally and with minimal intervention. Her stories have been a real encouragement to us, and we hope you enjoy reading about her journey!

About one hour after my second son was born (you can read his birth story here), his blood sugar was checked and it was 22, which is quite low. It should be above 40 to be considered normal for infants. I had been nursing him off and on, but when it was checked again it was down to 16. His body temperature was also not registering on the thermometer. It was quite low as well. We tried lots of skin-to-skin contact and covering ourselves with warm blankets. We hoped to bring his temperature up just by doing that, but we also needed to give him something for his blood sugar.

The nurse offered for us to use either sugar water or formula, and we chose the sugar water. We really did not want him having any formula at all. Then she said he really needed to have the formula since the sugar water would not keep his blood sugar up. This situation started to become really frustrating. We had not adequately prepared ourselves for something like this. It was frustrating to have choices offered to us that suddenly became unavailable after we chose them.

Amanda suggested that we give him formula through a dropper instead of a bottle since we didn't want him to have any nipple confusion. I am so glad she was still there because I would not have thought of that in the moment! For a little while we tried to give him the formula through a dropper while I was holding him. He was not taking it very well. We were told that if his blood sugar did not go up after having the formula, he would have to be have an IV put in. We wanted to avoid that, so I am sure we were all quietly praying that his blood sugar would go up.

We started giving the formula a little before 10am. Eventually my husband and Amanda took our baby over to the warmer and helped him take in more formula over there. He had about one ounce by 10:34am. At 10:37am his blood sugar was rechecked and it was 34. We all breathed a sigh of relief and thought it was great to see that his blood sugar was on the way up!

Even though his blood sugar was going up (which was the only requirement we thought there was) we were told he still needed to have an IV. What?! Why did they even offer the formula? My husband went with our baby to the nursery and Amanda stayed with me. I was talking with her about how upsetting this all was to me and how I didn't understand why he still needed an IV since his blood sugar was obviously going up. I knew it would most likely continue to go up since it was checked right after he finished the one ounce of formula . Your blood sugar does not even peak until 1-2 hours after eating. She thought maybe we could call my husband and have him ask the doctor if they could check his blood sugar once more before inserting the IV to see if it had gone up anymore. Perhaps he wouldn't need an IV after all.

I called my husband, but the doctor said it didn't matter if his blood sugar had gone up since we last checked it. He would be getting the IV no matter what. It was really frustrating to me because if he was going to need an IV anyway, then why didn't they just tell us that in the first place? It would have made it a lot easier to accept and I probably would have asked to just skip over giving him the formula (which I never wanted to give in the first place) since an IV would bring his blood sugar up anyway. I started to get all emotional. First, my son had been born into a room of people who were all shouting and frantic (I would have liked a more peaceful birth), he had already been poked several times for blood sugar checks and had blood drawn once (to check his blood sugar in a different way), and now was having an IV inserted into his tiny little body. It was too much to think about at the time. I am sure my hormones were all whacky from just giving birth anyway. I know that many other parents have had to deal with situations much more serious with their little babies, so it might sound silly to get all worked up over this, but it's just what I felt at the time. It didn't help that one of the nurses said, “he could die from this!” as if I didn't care about the life of my baby just because I was asking questions about what was happening.

A nurse or nurse's aide came back into my room and asked if I was ready to get up, use the bathroom, and then go to the nursery to be with my son. I told her no. I was still trying to process everything. A little while later I told Amanda I was finally ready for those things. One of the best things about our hospital is that because it is small, they let us stay in the nursery the entire time our baby was in there. I held him and nursed him and we all touched him and talked to him. He didn't have to lie there by himself without his family around. Amanda stayed with us for a while, and at some point we went to my postpartum room so that I could eat breakfast.

I know I've said it before, but I am so glad that we had Amanda to be our doula and that she stayed there with us for several hours after our baby was born. We never had to decide if my husband should stay with the baby or go with me because Amanda was there to stay with me. She provided support and a listening ear and advice when it was hard for us to think straight. I highly recommend having a doula for your birth, because I know we would have been a lot more stressed out had she not been there.

Our son's blood sugar was stabilized but his temperature was still so low that he had to stay in the nursery for several hours. He was there until the mid-afternoon. Eventually my husband's mom came to stay with us and Amanda went home. Once our son's temperature was stabilized, we all went to our postpartum room and the baby was allowed to room-in with us the entire time. That was a real blessing since he still had his IV in and I am sure some hospitals would want an infant with an IV to stay in the nursery.

My husband didn't seem to want to hold our son very much during his first day and I wondered what was wrong. He told me later that he was nervous because of the IV and didn't want to mess anything up. But from that afternoon on everything was just fine, our son's IV was removed the next morning, and we were even able to go home that night.

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