Women who have diabetes before they get pregnant have different health concerns as compared to diabetics. In addition to pregnancy-related changes, your body will also be affected by your blood sugar levels and diabetes medications.
If you’re thinking of having a baby, certain steps can help reduce the risk and complications.
Preconception counseling can help you be prepared both physically and emotionally. Meet with your doctor to find out if your diabetes is well controlled and if you should stop your birth control measures. A blood test called the glycosylated hemoglobin test (HbA1c, or just A1c) can help you know how well you are doing.
Other medical tests can help prevent pregnancy and diabetes-related complications:
- Urinalysis to help check kidney problems
- Cholesterol and triglyceride tests
- Eye exam to detect glaucoma, cataracts, or retinopathy
- Blood work to make sure your kidney is working well
- A foot examination
Blood Sugar Control:
High blood sugar levels during early pregnancy can cause birth defects. It can also increase the risks of a miscarriage or diabetes-related complications.
Many women don’t know they are pregnant until the baby has grown in about 2 to 4 weeks. This is why it is important that you have good control of your blood sugar before trying to conceive.
The ideal range of blood sugar levels:
- before meals: 70 to 100 mg/dL
- 2 hours after eating: Less than 120 mg/dL
- before your bedtime snack: 100-140 mg/dL
Manage your meals, exercise, and diabetes medications, and keep a healthy balance.
How diabetes could affect your baby:
Babies born to women with diabetes are often much bigger in size and weight. This condition is called “macrosomia.”
When mothers have high blood sugar levels, the baby gets too much sugar through the placenta. The baby’s pancreas senses it and starts making more insulin to use it up. This extra sugar gets converted to fat later, making it a large baby.
Many hospitals keep an eye on babies of mothers with diabetes for several hours even after birth.
The baby’s insulin is based on the mother’s high sugar, and when it is suddenly taken away, the blood sugar of the baby drops quickly, making the body produce more glucose to balance it out.
In some babies, it can also affect calcium and magnesium levels, but this can be fixed with medication.
Some babies are too big to be delivered through the vagina and mothers need a cesarean delivery or c-section. Your doctor can help keep an eye on the size of the baby so that you can plan for the safest way to give birth.