Pregnancy and Diabetes: What You Should Know

World Diabetes Day is on 14 November and is a global awareness campaign to encourage people throughout the world to learn more about diabetes, monitor their blood glucose levels and where possible, prevent the disease.

If you are a diabetic and want to conceive, it is in the best health interest of both yourself and your baby to plan your pregnancy and manage your diabetes throughout your pregnancy.


Know The Difference Between Diabetes Types

Diabetes mellitus (GDM) Type 1 and 2 should not be confused with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), which develops during the pregnancy.

For women with diabetes Type 1 and 2, normal glucose control in the first seven weeks of pregnancy is important. During this period your baby’s organs are developing and abnormal glucose levels may affect development, causing miscarriage or birth defects. During this period you may not yet know you are expecting, so with planning, you can anticipate the pregnancy and ensure that you are in good health.

Potential Risks To Be Aware Of

Proper blood glucose control is also important throughout the pregnancy, as poor control poses a risk to both mother and baby. Risks for mom include problems with the eyes and kidneys, increased risk for infection of the bladder and vaginal area, preeclampsia, a difficult delivery and the need for a C-section.

For the baby, risks include: birth defects, premature birth, large baby (macrosomia), low blood glucose (at birth), jaundice, breathing problems, twitching hands or feet (low calcium and magnesium, which is caused by uncontrolled glucose).

Bear These Points In Mind

If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and you want to conceive:

  • Use contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Prior to conceiving, see your doctor and have a HbA1c test. A result of 6.5% or lower for a period of three consecutive months is recommended.
  • Your doctor will also conduct various tests to check your blood pressure, your feet, kidney function and the functioning of your thyroid (Type 1).
  • Speak to your doctor about any current medication you take and how this can affect your growing baby. Depending on whether you have Type 1 or Type 1 diabetes, your doctor may decide to change your medication/management programme for three months before conception and during the pregnancy.
  • Diabetes can also affect the eyes, so you may also be referred to an eye specialist for an examination. These tests may need to be repeated during your pregnancy.

After you conceive, you will need to be proactive and regularly monitor your blood glucose, both before and after meals. Proper management will ensure a healthy outcome for you and your baby.


Photo by Ignacio Campo on Unsplash.
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