Diabetes was once considered an unacceptable risk factor for pregnancy. Women with diabetes were, at one time, discouraged from trying to conceive. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. With the right attitude and the right health care team, a woman with diabetes can go on to have a successful pregnancy.
One of the biggest ways that diabetes can affect your pregnancy is the risk of birth defects. High ketones and blood glucose levels are believed to increase the changes of having birth defects. Because of this, it is important to have your blood glucose under control before becoming pregnant. The first six weeks of pregnancy are critical, as the baby’s organs are first forming. High blood glucose levels during this time greatly increases the odds of having birth defects. Because most women don’t know that they are pregnant until the baby has been growing for two to four weeks, if you are trying to conceive you should make every effort to have your blood glucose levels under control.
One of the biggest areas for concern when a diabetic woman is pregnant or wants to become pregnant is the area of nutrition. A diabetic woman will have specific nutritional needs, both before and after conception. Prior to conception, it will be important for the diabetic woman to begin to address her nutritional needs. She should implement and follow an appropriate meal plan, in consultation with her diabetic nutritionist or health care provider. She should work on the timing of meals and snacks. She should probably begin taking prenatal vitamins at this time.
After conception, these practices should continue. In addition, it may be necessary to modify the meal plan after conception to address the vomiting and nausea that often accompany morning sickness. Prenatal vitamins should continue, and they should include folic acid, calcium, and other vitamins.
The main nutritional objective for the diabetic woman both before and after conception is to keep tight control on your blood sugar levels. This means that you are going to be trying to keep your blood sugar in a normal or nearly normal range. This might require frequent testing of your blood sugar levels, combining different types or dosages of insulin based on your blood sugar levels, and changes in your routine and your diet. Your health care team can help you understand exactly how to implement a tight control practice.