We had the chance to exclusively talk with Teen Mom 3 cast member Mackenzie Douthit about how her Type 1 diabetes has affected her life, her pregnancy, and her birth control choices. Type 1 diabetes, formally known as juvenile diabetes because it is usually diagnosed in childhood, is a disorder where the body does not produce the essential hormone insulin, which helps the body convert sugars, carbs, and other food into energy. About 5% of diabetics are Type 1, and they can live long, healthy lives if they receive proper care; including insulin treatments and diet control.
Having a baby when you’re diabetic requires even stricter control of your blood sugar than normal to prevent complications with the pregnancy, and harm to the baby. Although Mackenzie’s baby Gannon is healthy, he was born bigger than normal because of complications with the diabetes. At some point, Mackenzie even feared for her life during her pregnancy.
At what point did you find out you have Type 1 diabetes?
I found out I had type one diabetes in the sixth grade when I was 12.
How did having the disease affect your pregnancy?
It affected my pregnancy a lot. Gannon was bigger than normal. I had to have an ultrasound three days a week to check up on his weight. He was four weeks early and still weighed 9.7 pounds.
And what about your diet while pregnant? And were there any complications?
Although pregnant people like to eat a lot, I had to eat everything just right. If I had a low blood sugar it was suffocating the baby, and when I had a high blood sugar, it was giving the baby extra sugar, which made him gain weight. It was very hard with all the hormones to keep my blood sugars normal. I did everything right and STILL had mess ups. So, yes, I had LOTS of complications. It was very hard. I honestly didn’t think I would make it.
Do you have any advice Advice for Type I diabetics who are planning on getting pregnant, or have a chance of accidentally becoming pregnant?
They say that if you are a type 1 diabetic, then your body needs two years of perfect blood sugar to prepare for a baby. Well…..I didn’t plan on getting pregnant, so I didn’t get those two years to prepare. As a matter of fact I used to never take care of myself until I got pregnant. Then I realized I had to start taking care of myself or I could lose my baby. That would be so selfish of me. If you are a type 1 diabetic, I advise you to prepare for a baby. I don’t ever plan on having any more babies in the future, that’s how hard it was.
If you do get pregnant, MAKE sure to take great care of yourself. Do not allow yourself to have cake or chocolate, that could mean something horrible to your baby.
Are you on birth control now? Can birth control be dangerous for diabetics?
Me and josh are not having sex, but I DID go to the doctor to talk to him about birth control. About two years ago I got on the pill for about three weeks and my blood sugars were the worst they had ever been. Some people are different, but hormones and diabetes do NOT mix well. I did get on the IUD because if I waited until after I turned 18, (which I will be 18 when me and Josh get married)…… then it would be a lot of money.
Here is some further information about Type I diabetes and birth control. From the NY Times:
“Birth control pills can raise blood glucose levels. Long-term use (more than 2 years) of birth control pills may increase the risk of health complications.”
Q and A from Diabetes.org:
Is there any birth control method that is preferred because I have diabetes?
You and your health care team need to decide which birth control method will work best for you. You should use some kind of birth control if you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant. Birth control pills contain very low levels of estrogen (a hormone), and you can use them. You may need more insulin, because the hormones in the birth control pills might make you a bit more insulin resistant. A combination pill with norgestinate and a synthetic estrogen is the best one for women with diabetes.”