Becoming pregnant: exploring the perspectives of women living with diabetes

Pam K. Lowe, Frances Griffiths, Felicity Boardman, Catherine Ayre, Roger Gadsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The risk of adverse pregnancy outcome for women with type 1 diabetes is reduced through tight diabetes control. Most women enter pregnancy with inadequate blood glucose control. Interview studies with women suggest the concept of ‘planned’ and ‘unplanned’ pregnancies is unhelpful. Aim To explore women's accounts of their journeys to becoming pregnant while living with type 1 diabetes. Design of study Semi-structured interviews with 15 women living with pre-gestational type 1 diabetes, between 20 and 30 weeks gestation and with a normal pregnancy ultrasound scan. Setting Four UK specialist diabetes antenatal clinics. Method Interviews explored women's journeys to becoming pregnant and the impact of health care. Analysis involved comparison of women's accounts of each pregnancy and a thematic analysis. Results Women's experiences of becoming pregnant were diverse. Of the 40 pregnancies described, at least one positive step towards becoming pregnant was taken by 11 women in 23 pregnancies but not in the remaining 17 pregnancies, with variation between pregnancies. Prior to and in early pregnancy, some women described themselves as experts in their diabetes but most described seeking and/or receiving advice from their usual health professionals. Three women described pre-conception counselling and the anxiety this provoked. Conclusion For women living with type 1 diabetes each pregnancy is different. The concept of planned and unplanned pregnancy is unhelpful for designing health care. Formal preconception counselling can have unintended consequences. Those providing usual care to women are well positioned to provide advice and support to women about becoming pregnant, tailoring it to the changing needs and situation of each woman.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number548
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • conception
  • counseling
  • diabetes mellitus
  • interview
  • preconception care
  • pregnancy


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