Diabetes during pregnancy can affect both mother and unborn child. In order to ensure a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby, it is essential to carefully manage diabetes during pregnancy. “Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who are contemplating pregnancy need to plan ahead,” says Sheri Yates, MSN, nurse practitioner, manager and board certified in advanced diabetes management at the Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center. “High blood sugar at the time of conception increases the risk of birth defects.”
Women who do not have diabetes may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects approximately 18 percent of all pregnancies and resolves itself once the pregnancy ends. Developing diabetes during pregnancy increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and is two to four times more prevalent among African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and Asian/Pacific Islander women than among Caucasian women.
Work with your diabetes team to establish a set of healthy lifestyle habits to reduce risk of complications. Yates recommends taking the following tips to increase chances for a healthy pregnancy:
- Keep A1C lev range.
- Discuss pre-conception care with your doctor during every visit if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Be evaluated for complications of diabetes and obtain treatment prior to pregnancy.
- Ensure that the medications you are on now are not contraindicated in pregnancy.
- Continue birth control until you are ready to try to get pregnant.
- Keep as consistent a schedule as possible with meals and snacks to help glycemic control for women with type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes.
- Become frustrated with glucose control, as it is different when pregnant and can be more difficult to manage as pregnancy advances.
- But out too many carbohydrates to get good blood glucose values. “You do need carbohydrates for fuel and energy and fetal growth and development,” says Yates. “Make sure you see an educator to review calories need for pregnancy.”
- Try to manage it all on your own, especially if you have other children. “Diabetes and pregnancy is hard work, so use all the support systems you can,” says Yates.
- Try to be perfect. Try to keep the glucose in target ranges without too many episodes of extreme hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia.
- Forget it is all worth it at the end for a healthy happy mother and baby.
The Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center can help manage gestational diabetes and assist in a healthy pregnancy and baby through its award-winning, state-affiliated Sweet Success program, offering gestational diabetes counseling by certified diabetes educators.