Choosing Technology as a Parent With Diabetes: Tubes Or Tubeless Pumps?

I have been on a pump for more than 15 years now and a CGM for more than 10. A lot has changed with the technology, size and options in pump therapy. started out on a tubed pump and made the transition to Omnipod soon after it came to market mostly for athletic benefit at the time. When I chose to start using a pump to manage my diabetes, I considered the many pros and cons to using a pump. I considered the fact that diabetes management feels like a full time job at times and I wanted to make this a bit “easier.” The pros to wearing a pump (tubed to start) outweighed the cons and a major player in my decision was that my husband and I wanted to have children at some point in the future. While it wasn’t in the plan immediately after starting on a pump, the goal was to get more optimal control on a day to day basis.

Now, as a mother of a 5-year-old and a 13-month-old, my life with type 1 diabetes is busy. I work a full time job, am a full time Mom, and lead an active life with yoga, and distance running and cycling. Diabetes has to be managed within these components of my life. I knew becoming a parent would add more to the mix, but I also considered the pieces of technology that I would use to manage my diabetes as a part of this equation. These parts that make me feel a bit like Robo-Mom, help me keep my management where I want it.

Considering the balance between being a parent and having type 1 diabetes is hard to maintain, I use today’s technology to my advantage to make diabetes management easier and make my life with kids more balanced. While I switched from using a tubed insulin pump to Omnipod before I had kids for other reasons, I’ve continued to use a tubeless pump and come to value its benefit since having children. I know many parents who use a tubed pump and it’s not to say it doesn’t work – all pumps provide us with the life-sustaining juice – insulin. However, having the opportunity to use a tubed pump as well as Omnipod after my first child was born gave me good insight into why I feel a tubeless pump works best for my lifestyle as well as for parenting.

  1. Easy Access: No tubing means I could change my pump site while my 6 week old was sleeping in the Ergo carrier on my chest. With two hands free, I have the ability to put the Pod on the back of either arm or even my thigh. These sites are both easily accessible and easy to see where I’m sticking the Pod while wearing the baby carrier.
  2. Time-saver: Change of a Pod is fast. Everyone gets the timing to an insulin pump site/set change down to a minimum once you’ve been pumping for a while. However, I feel my Pod changes are much faster than on the tubed pump. This leaves more time for me to get back to a 5 year old who spilled glue on the cat or my baby who needs more milk – all at opportune times of course!
  3. Less Risk of Accidental Site Removal: No dangling parts or loose tubes. Young kids need to be hugged, snuggled, rocked to sleep, nursed and picked up. I quickly realized with my first child how much of a difference it made with a tubeless pump since I didn’t have to consider where my pump was clipped. I had no dangling tubes so I didn’t worry that the tube would get wrapped around a leg or arm and get pulled out. I didn’t have to worry that the pump was clipped in a location that wasn’t convenient for nursing.
  4. More real estate to use for insertion sites. This made a lot of difference during my pregnancies. Once the skin on a stomach gets tight it isn’t a good location for an infusion site. I felt restricted when I tried to wear a tubed pump during pregnancy since tubing doesn’t afford easy access to the backs of my arms. If my husband wasn’t available to help with a site change to my backside, I was limited to wearing the site on my love handle area. With Omnipod I could use my thighs, the backs of my arms and I could easily reach my lower back as well as the upper part of my butt with one hand to apply the pod.
  5. Automatic Site Change Reminders: Remembering a site change is easy. Pregnancy brain and even parent brain sets in with kids in your life. Life gets busy and with kids things get added to the daily mix which means some self-care pieces may get forgotten. Omnipod only allows wear up to 72 hours with an audible expiration alert to remind you to change the Pod. With the ability to set alert reminders for when the pod is going to expire from 1 hour to 12 hours before expiration, it is helpful to remember the expiration is coming.
  6. No need to disconnect and thus no way to forget to put the pump back on. With a tubed pump that is not waterproof* it can be easy with a busy life to forget to reconnect right after a shower or swimming at the beach– especially if you are running to catch the school bus with your kids!

We all choose the products we use to manage diabetes for different reasons. I am thankful there are so many options available and that the tubeless option makes my life as a parent with diabetes a bit less cumbersome.

Written by Jennifer Smith

*The Pod has an IPX8 waterproof rating of up to 25 feet for 60 minutes. The PDM is not waterproof.