Pregnant & Diabetic - What You Need to Know
The thought of being pregnant and awaiting the arrival of a new born in your family is of course exciting, but it can be challenging if you are a diabetic. Joy and excitement is all around the air but the challenges associated with it cannot be ignored. Pregnancy may make the blood sugar control difficult, and if you already have diabetes related complications, it can worsen further. High blood sugar levels may impede growth and development of the fetus, and can even have grave complications. However, with intense control on blood sugar levels under medical supervision, you can have a successful pregnancy.
Planning for a pregnancy when you have diabetes
If you are diabetic you need to be extra careful when it comes to pregnancy and its outcome. Medical supervision is required even when you are planning to conceive. You need to consult specialized doctors regularly throughout the pregnancy term and take care of few simple things that will help you cross your term easily.
First and foremost, it is very important that you keep your blood glucose level close to normal, before and during pregnancy. Special care is required during the first 8 weeks as it is the crucial period when the heart, brain, kidney and lungs start developing. But many women don’t realize that they are pregnant until 6 weeks. So, diabetic care during pregnancy might require few changes from the normal care as the body undergoes various changes during pregnancy. Therefore, discuss with your healthcare provider about your diet plan, medications, and physical activity that you need to follow during pregnancy.
Risks involved in diabetic pregnancy
Pregnancy in itself needs good care to avoid complications and added to it when it is accompanied by diabetes the risk of developing complications increases.
Diabetes increases the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. You may also have increased chances of developing hydramnios which is a condition that causes excess amount of fluid accumulation around the fetus in the later month of pregnancy. This may results in pre-term delivery. Preeclampsia is also common in diabetic pregnant women. Preeclampsia is an umbrella word used collectively for pregnancy complications, which causes high blood pressure and excretion of protein in urine in the mother. It might cause seizures, kidney & liver problem in mother. This increases the need for early delivery.
Diabetes increases the risk of birth defects in heart, brain, skeletal system, urinary and reproductive system. If blood-glucose level is not controlled properly then the fetus might receive more glucose, as a result the baby grows too big, called macrosomia, making vaginal delivery difficult. The baby may also suffer from respiratory distress syndrome which causes breathing difficulty in baby after birth. It is a treatable condition.
There are chances that the baby may develop jaundice, which fades away after few weeks. It is characterized by yellowing of the eye-white and skin develops in babies. It is not a serious disease but careful monitoring is required.
If you are diabetic and planning for pregnancy it is advised that you consult your healthcare provider for proper management of diabetes. Discuss how safe will it be for you and your baby, if you conceive at that point of time. Early consultation will help in maintaining blood-glucose level close to normal and to avoid pregnancy complications associated with diabetes. As a diabetic, it is important for you to maintain you blood-glucose level, check your medications and insulin needs, have healthy diet, and completely avoid smoking and alcohol. Further, if planning for pregnancy, these aspects require even more care. Your doctor might also prescribe folic acid to avoid spinal cord problems in the new-born.
Planning for a diabetic care during pregnancy is really simple yet it requires lots of attention.
It is essential that you check your blood glucose level very often. Sit with your healthcare provider and discuss your goal for daily blood glucose level and A1C test (average blood-glucose level for a period of time). Very importantly learn how and when to check your own blood-glucose level and know what to do if you find your blood-glucose level to be high or low.
Your insulin needs might change during pregnancy. You might be asked to take insulin shots more often and if you are on diabetic medication you will be asked to take insulin shots instead.
Knowing about ketone levels is also important. Ketones are by-products that are produced when your body burns out fat, instead of carbohydrates, for energy. Learn how and when to check blood and urine for ketones and also know what should be done if you find ketone bodies in blood or urine.
Diet and exercise are important components of diabetes management, even during pregnancy. Talk with your dietician and schedule your healthy meal plan, which is nutritious and as well controls your blood glucose level. If vitamin and mineral supplements are provided then follow it properly. It is very important that you are physically active during your pregnancy, therefore discuss with your healthcare provider the type of physical activity that help your pregnancy as well controls your blood-glucose level. Also know the duration of physical activity required per day.
If you are on some medications know whether you can continue them, if yes, know when and how to take to take them and essentially know the dosage amount. Always be prepared for any emergency, take extra care when you are sick, carry your diabetic kit if you are going away from home, educate your family and friends how to react in case of emergency.
Quit smoking and no consuming of alcohol during pregnancy- an important advice which all pregnant women should follow whether diabetic or non-diabetic.
Make sure that you perform these listed tests to avoid complications later in life for you and your baby due to diabetic pregnancy.
- Eye disease
- Kidney function
- Nervous system disease
- Heart and blood-vessel disease
- Blood-glucose level
It is very important that you monitor your blood-glucose level continuously even after delivery and remember to make a note of it, so that your physician might alter your insulin dose depending on the recorded levels. Many a times breast-feeding makes your blood-glucose level low; to avoid this you need to eat or drink caffeine free drinks during nursing, so that you need not stop feeding your baby for the fear of lowering your blood-glucose levels. Also consult your dietician and make a list of food that will help you while feeding. After delivery you might require low insulin for several days as your blood-glucose level has dropped due to breast-feeding. Avoid taking any diabetic pills during breast feeding. As there is risk of low-glucose level it is recommended that you check your blood glucose level more often to maintain it close to normal.
Healthy Mother, Healthy Baby
After delivery it is pretty obvious that all the attention is shifted to the newborn, but never forget that you need to be healthy for your baby to stay strong and fit. Taking control of diabetes during pregnancy is very essential to avoid complication for yourself and your baby.