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Pregnancy with diabetes

Pregnancy with diabetes

The health of the mother plays a major role during pregnancy for the development of the child. Therefore doctors recommend women planning for a pregnancy to get a complete check up done before conceiving. Pregnant women with diabetes as a condition before conceiving have special health concerns. With a major event to handle they even need to be careful of their blood sugar levels and be regular with their diabetes medications. Pregnancy for such women does call for a lot of caution to take. Having diabetes under control is very important for the health of the child.

However, delivering a baby is not a far-fetched dream for women with diabetes. There a few steps you need to take cautiously to lessen the risks to you and your baby.

How do you prepare?
It is important that a diabetic woman meets her care provider before getting pregnant. The care provider will help you understand whether your diabetes is under control or not. This will help you determine if you need to stop your birth control method or not. Normally doctors prescribe a blood test called the glycosylated hemoglobin test to evaluate how well your diabetes has been controlled over the past 8-12 weeks. Other tests that your doctor can prescribe are –

  • A urinalysis to screen for diabetic kidney complications
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride blood tests
  • Eye exam to screen for diseases common in diabetics such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy

Do not forget to have a pre-conception counseling session with your care provider. This will help you be prepared emotionally and stay healthy throughout pregnancy.

Importance of Blood Sugar Control
Keeping your blood sugar level under control is to maintain the blood glucose levels within the ideal range and balancing your meals exercise and medications. It is extremely important that you maintain your blood sugar level before you conceive as many women are unaware of their pregnant condition until 2-4 weeks after conceiving. High blood sugar level in the beginning of pregnancy is the major cause of birth defects. Also high blood sugar increases the chances of miscarriage and developing diabetes-related complications in you.

Diabetes Medication and Diet during Pregnancy –
Your doctor will work on the medications you take during pregnancy. In case you are administering insulin to control your diabetes, your care provider will instruct you on the new adjustment of the amount in which you need to take it. Normally your body will require more of insulin at this time, mostly during the last 3 months of pregnancy. Women who take oral medication for diabetes can be prescribed to switch to insulin. This is because safety of using certain oral medications may not be known. Also insulin provides better control.

Also taking a proper diet is crucial at this time. Your intake of food will play a major role on your blood sugar level. Your health care provider will ask you to follow a strict diet to maintain the required blood sugar levels. Ideally, your meal plan will also be adjusted to include more calories for your growing baby.

It is obvious that your diabetic condition will affect the child. The most common problem that babies of diabetic women face is “macrosomia,” which means “large body.” In simple terms the babies of diabetic women are considerably larger than others. This condition occurs as the baby gets too much sugar via the placenta as their mothers have high blood sugar levels. The pancreas in the baby sense the high sugar levels and it produces insulin accordingly to use up all the extra sugar. The extra sugar is converted to fat that makes the baby large. Sometimes the size of the baby is too large to be delivered through the vagina; in this case a caesarean has to be conducted. To avoid complications your doctor will constantly monitor the size of your baby and determine the safest way of delivery.

If you have high blood sugar level regularly during pregnancy and especially during the 24 hours of deliver, your child may have dangerously low blood sugars right after delivery. This happens because the insulin production in the baby is large as it is used to consume large amounts of sugar. The supply of sugar after delivery abruptly stops causing the blood sugar levels drop rapidly. To combat this, the doctor will check the blood sugar level of the baby and administer glucose intravenously. Also your child could have mineral imbalances such as calcium or magnesium. These can be treated with medication.