There’s a lot to think about before having a baby, from picking out the right name, to how to decorate the nursery. For those with medical challenges, like pregnancy with diabetes, there’s even more to consider– like monitoring your blood glucose levels or limiting your sugar intake.
But these six easy tips can help mother and child stay healthy!
Many people who receive a type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus diagnosis from a young age have to make many lifestyle adjustments to stay healthy, from eating the right foods to keeping insulin levels balance. So when it comes to pregnancy with diabetes, there are additional considerations. But with the right plan in place, you’ll be in great shape! But before we get into those healthy pregnancy tips, let’s look into the different considerations for those with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. While all need to monitor their blood glucose level and blood pressure, there are slight differences in the needs of these pregnant women.
Pregnancy with type 1 diabetes
If you have type 1 diabetes, you already know you’ll need insulin during pregnancy. Also, be aware your insulin dosage will constantly increase, even if you start off with a low dosage. So you’ll need to monitor blood sugar levels through blood glucose more closely.
During this time, you will need to visit your diabetes specialist more often to make sure your blood glucose levels are in good shape. There are several challenges to an expectant mother with type 1 diabetes. Hormone fluctuations confuse blood sugar levels. Side effects like vomiting or stress can cause blood sugar to shoot up into the hyper range, or plummet into the hypo range.
Since extreme hypoglycemia can also cause unconsciousness, you should check your blood sugar much more often than usual. Talk about these potential situations with a doctor. Blood sugar fluctuations can be dangerous for the mother and unborn child.
Pregnancy with type 2 diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s a little easier to prepare for pregnancy than with type 1 diabetes. With many cases of type 2 diabetes, a change in diet and lifestyle is sufficient to get pregnant without major complications.
In addition to avoiding alcohol and nicotine, which is basically good for any pregnant woman, you can also improve fertility by losing extra weight if needed. Eating well and getting good exercise have great benefits for your health and that of your child.
As a type 2 diabetic, you should visit your diabetes specialist and gynecologist during the planning phase. They’ll give you advice about any special treatments and ways to improve your blood glucose level you might need during this time. They’ll also carry out the standard examinations, like checking your blood pressure.
For example, it’s recommended that type 2 diabetics who have previously been treated with oral antidiabetics such as metformin switch to insulin during this period. With insulin, it’s easier to regulate long-term blood glucose values than with tablets. Well-controlled blood sugar levels contribute to lower pregnancy risks for mother and child.
Pregnancy and birth with gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy and is one of the most common side effects of pregnancy. While it’s inconvenient, it usually disappears after pregnancy.
Many factors that could contribute to gestational diabetes range from a family history of diabetes to obesity. Today, it’s recommended that women be tested for gestational diabetes prior to family planning. That way, they can rule out existing diabetes. Further tests should be carried out by the 28th week at the latest. High-risk groups usually get tested for gestational diabetes by the 14th week in order to minimize birth defects or other pregnancy-related complications like preeclampsia.
Whether you receive your diabetes diagnosis before or during your pregnancy, the following tips will help support a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.
Healthy pregnancy: 6 tips for diabetics
Here are a few easy lifestyle tips to get you started with a healthy pregnancy. While they apply to diabetics, pretty much everyone, pregnant or not, could benefit from them, too.
- Eat healthy foods.- It’s so important to keep your glucose levels balanced, and whole foods are a great way to do so. Don’t eat too many foods with high sugar content, even natural sugars like fruit. Also, be sure to get plenty of protein and healthy fats.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine.- This tip applies to all pregnant women. In addition to these substances being harmful and possibly causing birth defects, many alcoholic beverages can also cause insulin levels to spike.
- Exercise regularly.- Exercise releases endorphins, which help make you happy. It boosts your metabolism and helps you sleep better. What’s not to love there? Also, it boosts your energy so you’re better able to keep up with your child.
- Visit your doctor frequently to monitor the health of your baby. In addition to general well-being checkups, it’s so important to make sure your insulin levels remain balanced and healthy. You may need to visit your obstetrician-gynecologists more frequently following a diabetes diagnosis. This is also a great way to monitor your progress and the health of your baby.
- Have a strong support system. Whether it’s family or friends and neighbors, you’ll appreciate the extra support, especially after your baby arrives. Talking with people who have had healthy pregnancies with diabetes is especially helpful. They really understand what you’re going through better than anyone!
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night if possible.- This advice is so hard! Especially as your pregnancy progresses and it’s hard to be comfortable when you’re sleeping. But quality sleep will help boost your mood and increase your energy.
How can I avoid diabetes during pregnancy?
While the six tips for a healthy pregnancy may help you avoid gestational diabetes, for many people, diabetes has a strong genetic component. Increased exercise, eating a balanced diet, and generally taking care of yourself can help keep your blood glucose balanced, but it’s not a guarantee that you can avoid diabetes altogether.
If you are overweight, try to monitor your pregnancy weight gain and stay active. This lifestyle change will also prepare you for a smoother recovery after your baby arrives.
Talk with your OB-GYN about specific concerns you might have if you feel like you might show some of the signs for gestational diabetes, or if you need specific tips to regulate your blood glucose. You may be able to make some lifestyle changes to minimize some of the risk factors, like high blood pressure, even in the first trimester. The American Diabetes Association resources will have some useful information as well.
What are some symptoms of having diabetes during pregnancy?
When it comes to gestational diabetes, detection during early pregnancy can be especially helpful. Especially if you’re still in the first trimester, healthy lifestyle changes are key. Though you probably won’t take the glucose tolerance test until about 28 weeks, you can measure your glucose levels earlier if you would like.
Many of the symptoms here are similar to the symptoms of other forms of diabetes. These include blurred vision and increased thirst. Other symptoms of gestational diabetes include those that are common to most pregnant women, like fatigue, nausea, and increased urination. Bottom line: when in doubt, talk to your doctor about any potential concern or complication.
You might also want to talk with friends or family members who have had gestational diabetes or diabetes mellitus. It’s always encouraging to hear from people who have experienced healthy pregnancy and birth, even with a gestational diabetes diagnosis!
Family planning and diabetes
It doesn’t matter whether you have a planned pregnancy with diabetes or unplanned pregnancy. Perhaps the mother-to-be already has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or she develops gestational diabetes during pregnancy. If you have diabetes and want to get pregnant (or already are pregnant), you might have to plan your pregnancy differently than healthy women.
Especially in the case of mothers with an unplanned pregnancy: Don’t be afraid to accept help from family or friends if everything is just too much for you. Diabetes alone can already be an enormous psychological burden for many people. Adding an unexpected pregnancy to the mix means you might need extra help and support.
Don’t try to do it alone: ask friends and family for help if you need it! Give them a call, catch up over lunch, or even message them on FamilyApp if you need their input. Make sure you reach out to your support system in any way you can.
Pregnancy with diabetes – you can do it!
If you have type 1, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or gestational diabetes and would like to have children of your own, early information is key! Just reading this article is a great start. Keep in mind that it is by no means complete. So ask your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
With all of the variables and unique needs of those with lifelong diabetes and gestational diabetes, detailed advice from specialists is crucial – for the protection of both mother and child.