Wondering about Diabetes and Pregnancy, Here is Everything you Need to Know.



Co-occurrence of diabetes and pregnancy in a woman constitutes increased and various health risks for the expecting mom and her developing baby. Diabetes is a state of persistently and abnormally raised sugar levels in the blood due to lack of insulin. Insulin is responsible for breaking down sugar and passing it to the cells. Therefore, the absence of insulin gives rise to high sugar in the blood.

What do I need to know about Diabetes and Pregnancy?

If you’re currently pregnant and have a past medical history of diabetes, you must learn some strategies to keep your blood sugar levels under good control during pregnancy, so as to give birth to a healthy baby. Diabetes is of two types: Type 1, in which the body doesn’t produce enough insulin and Type 2, in which the body doesn’t respond normally to use insulin.

Although the combination of diabetes and pregnancy creates a high risk condition during pregnancy but it doesn’t mean you’ll develop complications. Usually, high risk pregnancy simply indicates that you need to take care of your health more than an average expecting mom. During pregnancy a lot of expecting women are vulnerable to develop high blood glucose levels for the following reasons:

  • Most pregnancy hormones are diabetogenic, meaning they increase blood sugar levels in the process of ensuring ample glucose supply to the baby for proper growth and development. A diabetic expecting mom thus suffers uncontrolled elevations of her blood glucose levels due to the activities of these hormones.

  • For most diabetic pregnant women who have previously controlled diabetes with medications, there’s possibility for increased blood glucose levels if the dosage isn’t increased. It’s been observed that extra dosage is usually required to maintain pre-pregnancy controlled blood sugar level, during pregnancy.

How can Diabetes and Pregnancy affect your Health?

Diabetes and pregnancy can affect your health by increasing chances of damage to the blood vessels, organs such as the kidney, bladder, cervix, eyes (vision impairment referred to as proliferative retinopathy) and the heart. Symptoms of diabetes include blurred vision, dizziness, frequent urination, food cravings, among others.

Diabetic expecting moms gain an average of 5 - 8 pounds additional weight during pregnancy than an average non-diabetic pregnant woman.

Extremely high levels of glucose that is left uncontrolled can degenerate into what is called polyhydramnios – a condition of excessive amounts of amniotic fluid which can trigger premature labor by over-distending the uterus.

Moreover, due to large size of the baby there’s increased risk of protracted labor and complicated vaginal delivery. A lot of diabetic expecting moms often end up delivering their babies through Cesarean section. Hey, your doctor would advice this in extreme case of complication!

How can my baby's Health be affected in the event of Diabetes and Pregnancy?

Uncontrolled diabetes in pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects especially congenital malformations in your baby and your baby may have:

  • Excessive weight gain (or macrosomic baby) - This is because a gradient for sugar develops across the placenta and excessive sugar is passed to your baby. The sugar also attracts water and thus babies are not only over-weight at birth but are also vulnerable to undergo birth trauma due to difficult delivery. All birth trauma related complications like shoulder dystocia and clavicle fracture and many others are more common in babies born to diabetic moms.
  • Most importantly, babies born to a diabetic mom require extra neonatal care because they develop hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) more readily than a regular new-born baby due to high levels of circulating insulin in baby’s blood, taking from the treatment of maternal high blood sugar levels.

However, hundreds and thousands of diabetic moms give birth to normal babies, every year, by keeping their blood sugar levels under good control and reducing possible risks to normal.

How can you take care of your baby and your health with diabetes and pregnancy?

During pregnancy with prior diabetes, maintain your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. High blood sugar levels in pregnancy causes more harm to your baby and your health than in non-pregnant state. You must also keep in mind that during pregnancy, you’ll face a great deal of difficulty in maintaining your blood sugar levels compared to a non-pregnant state.

Start proper management of your diabetes before getting pregnant. You need more frequent antenatal visits than an average non-diabetic pregnant woman. For this purpose maintain a diary and record at least two blood sugar levels a day (one pre- meal or fasting and one 2 hours after meal). Although most physician recommend 4 blood sugar tests each day in a women with unstable blood sugar levels.

Continue all your medications as suggested by your healthcare provider and any increment or deviation from normal blood sugar levels must be reported to your physician. In addition, follow a proper healthcare and diet plan as advised by your healthcare provider and dietitian. You can follow this link to read about diabetes diet in pregnancy.

What are ideal blood sugar levels for a woman with Diabetes and Pregnancy?

The ideal blood sugar levels, according to American Diabetic Association in pregnancy are:

Fasting blood sugar levels = between 80 to 110 mg/dL

2 hours after meal = below 155 mg/dL

How to manage Diabetes and Pregnancy for a smooth Childbirth?

Continue all your medications for blood sugar control. Due to risk of complications associated with oral diabetic drugs, a lot of women take insulin injections to achieve more calculated blood sugar control.

Keep up with all your antenatal check-ups and responsibly undertake all the necessary tests and periodic ultrasound examinations that your doctor may routinely recommend to assess you and monitor your baby’s growth and well-being. Your doctor may as well recommend you take a blood test – hemoglobin AIC to check your sugar control history even before delivery. He or she will determine the best course of action for you if a high level of glycosylated hemoglobin is recorded.

Besides, maintain a diet chart with the help of your physician and allocate some time for regular physical activity or exercise throughout your pregnancy.

Moreover, avoid any infection like urinary tract infection or vaginal infections as blood sugar spikes up in the face of any active disease due to possible impact of stress hormones on blood sugar levels.

Vast majority of women with diabetes has given birth to healthy babies under close supervision of their respective healthcare providers and following the lifestyle and diet that alleviate the risks of diabetes during pregnancy.

Final word..on Diabetes and Pregnancy

The key to an uneventful delivery of a healthy baby is proper management of diabetes and pregnancy throughout nine month period with a combination of proper medicare, right nutrition and lifestyle.

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