Anticipation should be something wonderful. But what if a disease puts a damper on pleasant thoughts? Pregnancy with diabetes is not easy, but it is possible.
If you receive a diabetes diagnosis at a young age, you think of many lifestyle changes you’ll have to adopt. You’re not necessarily thinking of a future pregnancy with diabetes. But just as you need to eat the right foods and have the right medications, you also need to have a plan in place for pregnancy.
Pregnancy with Diabetes – is that possible?
To answer that question: Yes, having diabetes does not mean you cannot bear children! There are, however, a few things you need to consider that go hand-in-hand with family planning and preparation, pregnancy and birth.
Healthy women wanting children usually think about things like their financial situation, living conditions, job or career. But when diseases like diabetes are in the picture, these criteria become secondary to medical considerations.
Two basic scenarios can be assumed for a planned pregnancy with diabetes: 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, you might have to plan your pregnancy differently than healthy women.
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, 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 you might need during this time. They’ll also carry out the standard examinations.
For example, it’s recommended that type 2 diabetics who have previously been treated with oral anti-diabetics such as metformin switch to insulin during this period. With insulin, it’s easier to regulate the long-term blood sugar values than with tablets. Well-controlled blood sugar levels contribute to lower pregnancy risks for mother and child.
Pregnancy with diabetes type 1
If you have diabetes type 1, you already know you’ll need insulin during pregnancy. Also be aware your insulin dosage will constantly increase, so you’ll need to monitor blood sugar levels more closely.
During this time, you will need to visit your diabetes specialist more often to make sure your levels are in good shape. Don’t underestimate the risk of significant damage to your child due to careless testing habits, or poor blood sugar levels.
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, blood sugar must be checked much more often. Talk about these potential situations with a doctor, since blood sugar fluctuations can be dangerous for the mother and unborn 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 diabetes prior to family planning in order to rule out existing diabetes. Further tests should be carried out by the 28th week at the latest. High-risk groups usually get tested by the 14th week.
If diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy, everything that has already been described here about lifestyle applies too: a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine. You’ll also need to make sure a doctor frequently monitors your health to make sure everything’s functioning properly.
Additional issues for diabetics
An unplanned pregnancy, whether you’re single or married, can be a surprise and an additional challenge. 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.
Healthy pregnancy tips for diabetics
Here are a few 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.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
- Exercise regularly.
- Visit your doctor frequently to monitor the health of your baby.
- Have a strong support system.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night if possible.
Pregnancy with diabetes – you can do it!
If you have 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- consult your doctor with any questions!
With all of the variables and unique needs of those with diabetes, detailed advice from specialists is crucial – for the protection of both mother and child.