Your Guide to Diabetes and Pregnancy – Risks and Preparations

Posted on August 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Pregnancy And Diabetes
There are certain risk factors associated with pregnancy and diabetes for both mom and baby. But this does not mean that you can't start planning a family - only that some additional precautions will need to be taken during your pregnancy and preferably before you fall pregnant.
What Are The Risk Factors Associated With Diabetes During Pregnancy?
It is highly recommended to discuss the risk factors of diabetes and how it will affect you and your baby during pregnancy with your doctor. The following risks are of major concern for mom:
- Blood sugar levels may be more difficult to control during pregnancy which may result in hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
- Bad blood circulation is a risk factor in both diabetes and pregnancy.
- Both pregnancy and diabetes put strain on the kidneys and liver.
- There is an increased risk of miscarriage in diabetic mothers.
- There is an increased risk of developing other complications associated with diabetes while you are pregnant.
Risk for baby may include:
- High blood sugar during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy can result in birth defects.
- Mother's with diabetes often have larger babies. This is a condition called macrosomia and can make vaginal delivery difficult or may cause injury to the baby during delivery.
- Baby's of a diabetic mother are more likely to develop jaundice which is caused by a build-up of billirubin from an obstruction of the bile duct and can point to abnormal liver function.
- A baby may present with hypoglycemia (which is low blood sugar) in the first few hours after birth due to no longer receiving higher levels of sugar from the mother through the placenta.
With the proper care and treatment as well as planning, these risk factors are diminished and hundreds of thousands of diabetic moms have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies every year.
Treating Diabetes During Pregnancy
Firstly, planning for pregnancy is of the utmost importance for diabetics. It is optimal to have your blood sugar in the ideal range before falling pregnant. This is because most moms are unaware that they are pregnant for the first two to four weeks and this is a high risk period for birth defects developing due to high blood sugar levels. You may also need to undergo an electrocardiogram to assess heart function as well as urinalysis and blood tests to check kidney and liver function. It is just as important to monitor and control blood glucose levels during the entire pregnancy.
It is also recommended to visit a nutritionist or dietician for advice on following the best eating plan during pregnancy. Eating right can help prevent macrosomia as well as the need to take additional insulin during pregnancy while ensuring that baby gets all the nutrition that it needs.
Regular visits to an endocrinologist as well as obstetrician who is experienced at dealing with high risk pregnancies and the complications associated with diabetes are advisable.
Exercise is very important for diabetic moms during pregnancy. However, it is very important to ensure that your doctor/s approve of any type of exercise that you may be considering. Staying active is a good way to improve blood circulation.
You will probably need to keep taking insulin while you are pregnant although your dosage will need to be adjusted. Your doctor will help you make the necessary adjustments throughout your pregnancy.
Due to the risk of macrosomia, it may be necessary to plan for an early delivery (at about 38 weeks) and/or a cesarean section.
During delivery, your insulin levels will be monitored carefully and you may be placed on an insulin drip. After delivery, baby will be monitored carefully to ensure that hypoglycemia does not occur and will receive treatment if their blood sugar does drop.