Diabetes Home > Pregnant Women With Diabetes
Pregnant women with diabetes should keep blood sugar in tight control before and during pregnancy. This can lessen the risk of having a baby with a birth defect to that of a woman who doesn't have diabetes.
Controlling blood sugar also reduces the risk that a woman will develop common problems of diabetes or that the problems will get worse during pregnancy. If a woman keeps her blood sugar under control, the baby is less likely to grow extra large during her pregnancy.
There are a number of things that you can do to lessen the impact of diabetes. Some suggestions for women with diabetes who are looking to become pregnant (preconception) and pregnant women with diabetes include:
- Plan the pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancies are more common among women with diabetes than among women who do not have diabetes. About 70 percent of women with diabetes don't plan their pregnancies, as compared to about 50 percent of women who don't have diabetes. It is very important for a woman with diabetes to get her body ready before she becomes pregnant.
- See the doctor. Her doctor needs to look at the effects that diabetes has had on her body already, talk with her about getting and keeping control of her blood sugar, change medications if needed, and plan for frequent followup. Her doctor will remind her about the usual steps to get ready for pregnancy, such as taking prenatal vitamins (with folic acid), stopping smoking, avoiding alcohol, eating right, exercising, and avoiding stress.
- Eat healthy foods from a meal plan made for her as a person with diabetes. If a woman is overweight, she might try to lose weight before getting pregnant as part of her plan to get her blood sugar under control. Talking with a dietitian can help her plan a good diet for a person with diabetes, especially if she plans to lose weight before she gets pregnant. A dietitian can also help her learn how to control her blood sugar while she is pregnant.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is another way to keep blood sugar under control. Exercise helps to balance food intake. A woman should begin a regular exercise plan before she gets pregnant and stick with it, both while she is pregnant and after the baby is born.
- Monitor blood sugar often. Because pregnancy causes the body's need for energy to change, blood sugar levels can change very quickly. Pregnant women with diabetes need to check their blood sugar more often, sometimes 6 to 8 times a day, which might be higher than when they are not pregnant. Checking blood sugar levels often can help a woman keep her blood sugar under control.
- Take medications on time. If insulin is ordered by a doctor, women should take it when it's needed. They should know how to adjust food intake, exercise, and insulin -- depending on the results of her blood sugar tests -- to keep the blood sugar in the range of tight control.
- Control and treat low blood sugar quickly. Keeping blood sugar under control may lead to low blood sugar at times. Those with diabetes should have a ready source of carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets or gel, on hand at all times. It's helpful to teach family members and close co-workers or friends how to help in case of a severe low blood sugar reaction.
- Follow up with the doctor regularly. Pregnant women with diabetes need to see the doctor more often than do pregnant women without diabetes. A woman can work with her doctor to prevent or catch problems early. Although there are no guarantees, women who get and keep blood sugar in control are more likely to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.