Managing Your Diabetes During Pregnancy

If you have diabetes and you're pregnant, your pregnancy is considered high risk. That's because diabetes in pregnancy can cause problems for you and your unborn baby. But how severe the issues are depends on your diabetes. Problems are more likely if you have blood vessel (vascular) complications and don't have good control of your blood sugar. 

By keeping your blood sugar in check and staying healthy during your pregnancy, you’ll likely have a healthy baby, too.

Possible issues for baby

Babies born to mothers with diabetes are at greater risk for stillbirth. They also have a higher risk of birth defects. These may involve the brain, spine, and heart. Studies suggest that this risk goes up if your blood sugar is high when you first get pregnant and for several weeks afterward.

Plus, having poor blood sugar control later in the pregnancy can cause your baby to have high blood sugar, too. This can cause your baby to be larger than normal. Your baby may also be born with low blood sugar, breathing problems, or jaundice.

Pregnant women with diabetes are also more likely to get high blood pressure. This can be dangerous for both the mother and the baby. If your baby is too big, you may not be able to have a vaginal birth.

Preventing problems

Prenatal care is important for all pregnant women. But it's extra crucial if you have diabetes. You may need to see your pregnancy healthcare provider and your diabetes specialist throughout pregnancy.

Pregnancy can change your body in many ways. It also can change your diabetes. This is especially true if you don't have your blood sugar in your target range. For instance, your normal plan may need to be adjusted as your pregnancy goes along. You may need to take more insulin or test your blood sugar more often. Following the care plan your healthcare provider prescribes can help keep your blood sugar near goal. This can also lower many of the risks to your baby.

Because you’re high-risk, you may need special testing and monitoring. These tests can include counting your baby’s movements and ultrasounds to look at your baby's organs. They can also include non-stress tests to check your baby’s heart rate and Doppler flow studies. This is a type of ultrasound that uses sound waves to check blood flow.

Giving birth

You may be able to give birth vaginally or by cesarean section (C-section). This depends on your baby’s estimated weight, size and position, and how mature his or her lungs are. It also depends on your health.

Babies born to moms with diabetes tend to be large compared with babies of the same gestational age. Your healthcare provider may suggest inducing labor before your due date or doing a C- section. This can often help prevent problems in labor and birth due to having a very large baby.

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

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