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What you need to know about diabetes and pregnancy

What you need to know about diabetes and pregnancy

If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you can get pregnant and carry a healthy baby to term. If your blood sugar isn’t under control, however, it can negatively impact your pregnancy and your baby. It’s important to know how diabetes and pregnancy interact before you start trying to get pregnant. Taking a few precautions can help ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.

Why diabetes during pregnancy is a big deal

If you have diabetes, you already know that high blood sugar can damage organs, such as your kidneys. The same thing can happen to your developing baby—even before you know you’re pregnant. The first two months of pregnancy are when your baby starts growing organs such as the heart, brain and lungs. If you have high blood glucose levels during this time, your baby could develop birth defects.

High blood sugar can also affect your baby in the second and third trimesters. Poorly controlled diabetes can raise the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, health problems for your baby and stillbirth.

How to manage your diabetes before conception

While you can’t always predict when you get pregnant, you can take steps to lower your risk of complications. If you know you want to start trying for a baby, visit your Touro primary care provider or endocrinologist prior to stopping birth control. Your doctor can help you develop a prenatal health plan, which may include:

  • Assessing whether any medications you take are unsafe for pregnancy
  • Avoiding alcohol, tobacco and nonprescription drugs
  • Closely monitoring your blood sugar level
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting to a healthy weight
  • Taking folic acid and prenatal multivitamins daily

You may also need to see other specialists such as ophthalmologists, nutritionists or nephrologists to make sure any diabetes-related health problems are under control.

Staying healthy during pregnancy

Once you’re pregnant, you will need to monitor your glucose levels as closely as possible. The National Institutes of Health recommends most pregnant people with diabetes have the following daily blood glucose levels:

  • 90 or less before meals, at bedtime and overnight
  • 130 to 140 or less one hour after eating
  • 120 or less two hours after eating

Your doctor will tell you if your target levels should be slightly different.

You will also need to monitor your ketone levels during your pregnancy. If ketones build up in the blood or urine, it is a sign that your body is burning too much fat for energy. This can be harmful to your baby.

During your pregnancy, you will need more insulin than usual, and you will likely need to visit your care team more frequently than other pregnant women.

What about prediabetes?

If you have prediabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. While this type of diabetes usually goes away after birth, it can still harm your baby. Tell your Touro OB/GYN if you have prediabetes or other risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes so you can be screened for gestational diabetes early.

You’re not alone

Between 1% to 2% of pregnant women have diabetes, and almost a tenth of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. While the risks are real, modern medicine has progressed far beyond Steel Magnolias. Your Touro care team is here to help you before, during and after your pregnancy to ensure the health of you and your baby.

If you have diabetes and have plans to start a family, talk to a Touro provider about the best ways to manage your condition. Make an appointment today.