Pregnant With Diabetes

Pregnant With Diabetes: Preventing Problems

Women who are pregnant with diabetes should keep their blood sugar in tight control, both before and during pregnancy. This can lessen the risk of having a baby with a birth defect to that of a woman who doesn't have diabetes.
Controlling blood sugar also reduces the risk that a woman will develop common problems of diabetes or that the problems will get worse during pregnancy. The baby is less likely to grow extra large during her pregnancy if a woman keeps her blood sugar in tight control.

Pregnant With Diabetes: Preconception and Pregnancy Suggestions

Women who are pregnant with diabetes can do several things to lessen the impact of their diabetes. Some suggestions for women with diabetes who are trying to become pregnant (preconception) and women who are pregnant with diabetes include:
  • Plan the pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancies are more common among women with diabetes than among women who do not have diabetes. About 70 percent of women with diabetes don't plan their pregnancies, as compared to about 50 percent of women who don't have diabetes. It is important for a woman with diabetes to get her body ready before she becomes pregnant.
  • See your doctor. Your doctor needs to look at the effects that diabetes has had on your body already, talk with you about getting and keeping control of your blood sugar, change medications if needed, and plan for frequent follow-up care. Your doctor will likely remind you about the usual steps to get ready for pregnancy, such as to take prenatal vitamins (with folic acid), stop smoking, avoid alcohol, eat right, exercise, and avoid stress.
  • Eat healthy foods from a diabetic meal plan. If you are overweight, try to lose weight before getting pregnant as part of the plan to get your blood sugar under control. Talk with a dietitian if you need help planning a diet for someone with diabetes, especially if you plan to lose weight before getting pregnant. A dietitian can also help you learn how to control your blood sugar while pregnant.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is another way to keep blood sugar under control. Exercise helps to balance food intake. You should begin a regular exercise plan before you get pregnant and stick with it -- both while pregnant and after the baby comes.
  • Monitor blood sugar often. Because pregnancy causes the body's need for energy to change, blood sugar levels can change quickly. Women who are pregnant with diabetes need to check their blood sugar more often, sometimes 6 to 8 times a day, which might be higher than when they are not pregnant. Checking blood sugar levels often can help you keep your blood sugar under control.
  • Take medications on time. If insulin is ordered by your doctor and you are pregnant with diabetes, you should take it when needed. Make sure you know how to adjust food intake, exercise, and insulin, depending on the results of your blood sugar tests, to keep your blood sugar under good control.
  • Control and treat low blood sugar quickly. Keeping your blood sugar under control can lead to a chance of low blood sugar at times. Women who are pregnant with diabetes should have a ready source of carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets or gel, on hand at all times. It's helpful to teach family members and close coworkers or friends how to help in case of a severe low blood sugar reaction.
  • See your doctor regularly. Women who are pregnant with diabetes need to see the doctor more often than do pregnant women without diabetes. A woman can work with her doctor to prevent or catch problems early. Although there are no guarantees, a woman who is pregnant with diabetes and who keeps her blood sugar under control is more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
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