Report – Diabetes in Pregnancy:Caring for baby after birth 
Report – Diabetes in Pregnancy: Caring for baby after birth 
Do babies of diabetic mothers need to be placed in special care units?
This is an issue that has been raised with IDDT as pregnant women with diabetes have been advised that their newborn babies will be babies removed from them and placed in the special baby care unit with some being told that this is a necessary and normal procedure – even in hospitals with a ‘good reputation’. While this could be necessary on health grounds, many diabetic mothers are being separated from their babies for no other reason than hospital convenience or ‘hospital policy’.
The findings of a national inquiry, the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health [CEMACH] produced in a report, Diabetes in Pregnancy: Caring for baby after birth , stated that in over half of mothers with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes their newborn babies are automatically moved to a special care baby unit when there was no specific medical indication for admission and in other cases, because babies were not being kept warm enough. This leads to unnecessary separation of babies from their mothers. The report goes on to confirm that there are many benefits of early interaction between mother and baby and states that hospitals should have policies to enable this to happen.
The author of the report stated: “Babies of mothers with diabetes have more complications and do need careful monitoring, nevertheless in the absence of specific risks or complications, every effort should be made to ensure that these babies can be kept with their mothers safely in order for bonding, temperature control and breast feeding to take place.”
The report also shows that there were a number of barriers to breastfeeding and these were:
- A quarter of babies did not have early feeding on the labour ward.
- Instant formula was given as first feed to two thirds of babies.
- Maternal choice not to breastfeed was the main reason for instant formula feeding on the postnatal ward.
- The first blood glucose test was often performed too early to be informative, with inaccurate methods of testing used and insufficient documentation of management.
The report recommends that:
- Mothers with diabetes to receive advice about the benefits of breastfeeding for their child during the antenatal period.
- Babies to be with their mothers immediately after birth, provided there are no postnatal complications. Early mother-baby contact helps to establish breastfeeding and to regulate the temperature in babies.
- Encouragement of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, but all mothers should be supported in the feeding method of their choice.
- Better guidelines and training for healthcare professionals in the management of babies of mothers with diabetes.
IDDT advice to pregnant women with diabetes
Make sure that you know the hospital system before you are due to have your baby and make it clear that you don’t want to be separated from your newborn baby unless there are medical grounds for doing so.