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A sweet society: Sugar Mamas helps women with diabetes achieve healthy pregnancies

Posted 3/7/2016 by UHBlog

For pregnant women who have diabetes, managing the disease during pregnancy can be complicated. Pregnancy changes the way diabetes is controlled, and it can have a significant effect on the health of both mom and baby – women with diabetes are at the highest risk for premature births. To give these women the support they need for a successful pregnancy, birth, and healthy newborn, the Center for Diabetes in Pregnancy at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital created the Sugar Mamas program.

Effective education

“Sugar Mamas brings together a group of five to eight women for prenatal care to give them tools to keep their diabetes under control,” says Stacey Ehrenberg, MD, maternal fetal medicine specialist at UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital.

“There is so much these women need to know. Through this group, we can devote much more time to education than would be possible in one-on-one care. The knowledge they gain in the program is not only used during pregnancy, but after delivery as well to keep themselves and their families healthy.”

Each Sugar Mamas group meets for 12 two-hour sessions every other week. At each session, Dr. Ehrenberg, developer of the program, provides individual prenatal care assessments. Then, a diabetes educator, dietitian and other professionals lead an interactive discussion on topics such as nutrition during pregnancy, when to check blood sugar levels, how diabetes can affect the baby, and safe sleeping for newborns.

Stacey Ehrenberg Buchner

Stacey Ehrenberg, MD
Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital
Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Specialized support

Dr. Ehrenberg has conducted more than five Sugar Mamas groups with exceptional results.

“One benefit of Sugar Mamas is the camaraderie it creates among participants. Without the group, they may not know anyone else managing diabetes during pregnancy,” says Dr. Ehrenberg. “The group provides a support system and therefore the women are more apt to remain compliant in their care. These women truly look forward to Sugar Mamas.”

Shavonne Sims, who participated in Sugar Mamas during her second pregnancy, says the program empowered her to take control of her body. “I kept my blood sugar under control, gained far less weight than in my first pregnancy and was able to do a VBAC [vaginal birth after c-section], which was an amazing experience.”

The center also provides a blood sugar reporting service for women with any form of diabetes in pregnancy. Each week, women with diabetes contact the center with their blood sugar numbers. A diabetes educator reviews each report with Dr. Ehrenberg, then calls the patient back with any changes and answers all questions. A weekly report is then sent to her health care provider to keep everyone on the same page.

For Regina Motiejunas-McCarthy, this close monitoring allowed her to have a more relaxing pregnancy. “I was so worried that my diabetes would cause development issues with my baby. It was comforting to know I had people on my side who knew exactly what to do.”

“Our program is special because we understand both pregnancy and diabetes,” says Dr. Ehrenberg. “We enjoy educating and caring for these women so that they can have optimal control of their diabetes, which leads to a healthier pregnancy, baby, lifestyle and household.”

Interested in Sugar Mamas? To learn more about our program, call 216-844-7403.

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