Young mum Gemma O’Brien, who has Type 1 diabetes, says it was the support from Mercy Perinatal that safeguarded both her pregnancy and the joyous arrival of baby Tanner.
Gemma, 27, has now given birth to two healthy boys at Mercy Hospital for Women (MHW) and she and her husband Luke say they are indebted for the care she received.
“I have lived with diabetes for most of my life but even for me it is challenging trying to understand the risks and even more when it came to childbirth,” Gemma says.
Tanner, now just five weeks old, was born at 36 weeks’ gestation and arrived at a robust 5.1kg. For those who still subscribe to the old imperial measurements, that is a sturdy 11.24 pounds.
MHW Obstetrician Associate Professor Alexis Shub, who treated Gemma through her pregnancy, said Tanner was very big even for a baby born at the usual time, but even more so for a baby born early.
“Big babies are more common with diabetes, and require special care both during pregnancy and after they are born to make sure that they are well.
“All women with diabetes in pregnancy need extra care, but especially those with diabetes present before the pregnancy starts. For these women, we provide care in a dedicated multidisciplinary clinic, where obstetricians, midwives, endocrinologists, sonographers, dietitians and diabetes educators work together to provide the best possible care,” Alexis says. “We also have a support group for mothers with Type 1 diabetes so they can meet other pregnant women and learn from them.”
For Gemma’s first son, Tate, now two-and-a-half years old, the birth came suddenly after it was noticed at 36 weeks that his placenta was failing.
“It was decided immediately that Tate should be induced and he arrived safely the next day,” says Gemma.
“With Tanner, also at 36 weeks, my fluid around the baby was up and my insulin levels were fluctuating. It was accurately forecast that he would be a 5kg baby, so it was decided that I should have an immediate caesarean,” she says.
I was surrounded by caring people, as well as other mums who were in similar predicaments.
It was Gemma’s general practitioner who suggested that the probability of a successful birth was heightened if she retained the support of Mercy Perinatal throughout her pregnancy.
“I was surrounded by an array of caring people, as well as other mums who were in similar predicaments. A diabetes educator was also available whenever I had questions. Alexis is incredibly knowledgeable and supportive,” Gemma says.
“I also had 15 ultrasounds so while telehealth had been a consideration, it was not really necessary. The Mercy Perinatal team was just outstanding in providing assistance.”
Immediately after Tanner’s birth, he spent four days in the MHW Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before heading home. He has also had some visits from Mercy Health’s domiciliary home care team, Mercy@Home, which keeps an eye on potentially vulnerable babies.
While Tanner’s big brother Tate did not show too much interest in his mother’s pregnancy, he is now enjoying having a sibling, even if he still only refers to his brother as ‘baby’. With a laugh, Gemma says she is confident there will come a time when he uses his brother’s name.
Last reviewed October 20, 2020.