A Healthy Pregnancy for Women with Diabetes

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or does not respond adequately to insulin. Insulin helps glucose pass from the blood into the cells where it is broken down to produce energy for activities of the cells. Excessive blood sugar levels from diabetes can lead to health problems such as heart and kidney disease.

How does Diabetes Affect Pregnancy?

Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, high blood pressure and increased amniotic fluid levels (hydramnios). Hydramnios can lead to early labour and overgrowth of the baby due to excessive glucose consumption, which may require a caesarean section delivery. Women with diabetes who become pregnant receive special care to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Some women without a history of diabetes may develop it during pregnancy, a condition called gestational diabetes. Newborn babies of diabetic mothers may need a little extra care as they can have low blood glucose, jaundice or breathing issues.

Should you see a Doctor if you are Diabetic and Planning a Pregnancy?

Informing your doctor about a planned pregnancy is important. Your doctor will ensure that your diabetes is well controlled. This is important as birth defects due to uncontrolled diabetes may occur within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, before you realise you are pregnant.

How is Diabetes Controlled during Pregnancy?

To manage diabetes during pregnancy, your doctor will recommend a controlled diet, exercise and medications. You will need frequent medical visits to check your sugar level and perform other tests. Be sure you have proper meals at fixed times to avoid hypoglycaemic episodes, where blood glucose levels drop dangerously low. This is more common during pregnancy. Besides controlling your weight and boosting your energy, exercise can help keep your sugar levels under control. Too much exercise however, can lead to hypoglycaemia.

Are Diabetic Medications Safe during Pregnancy?

Insulin and oral medications to control diabetes are considered safe during pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend a change in dosage or the type of medication you use.

What Precautions are Taken During Delivery?

Your doctor may recommend inducing labour earlier than your due date to be on the safe side. Insulin levels are carefully monitored during labour and can be administered if needed.

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