Can women with diabetes get pregnant? Diabetes can affect a person without warning and sometimes may even occur without any family history. For a woman of child bearing age, this is stressful as the desire to become a mother and the thought of bringing harm to the child. Although the risks associated with pregnancy in a diabetic woman can’t be ignored, the number of misconceptions is huge and adds to the stress. However, the situation is not as bad as it is made out. Diabetic woman can get pregnant and deliver healthy babies. You just need to take certain precautions to become a mother.
Can Women with Diabetes Get Pregnant?
The short answer is “Yes”. Since diabetes is a chronic condition, a person is required to take care of their health. Monitoring the sugar levels and keeping them in check is essential. This becomes all the more necessary and important during pregnancy, when your body is undergoing a lot of changes.
You should interact more often with your doctor and other healthcare professionals during your pregnancy and try to manage your diabetes as best as you can. This way you can have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.
How Will Diabetes Affect My Pregnancy?
The most commonly seen complications of diabetes are those that affect the kidney, eyes and the nervous system. These are also known as diabetic-nephropathy, retinopathy and neuropathy respectively. After delivery the symptoms might disappear; however, treatment may be required. Ensure that you inform your doctor about any changes in your body as they can be symptoms of a condition. Common conditions seen among mothers are:
- urinary tract infection leading to fever.
- high blood pressure leading to fluid build up.
- swelling in limbs and face.
- protein excretion in urine.
- carpal tunnel syndrome leading to numbness & tingling in hands.
- build of ketone bodies.
- risk of premature delivery or requirement of c-section.
If undetected for long, there could be worsening of eye problems, nerve damage and severe kidney disorder. Medication may be provided, including suggestion for having complete bed rest, early admission to the hospital or early delivery.
Unchecked diabetes can also put the baby at risks such as:
- high blood sugar levels leading to fat accumulation in shoulders and trunk.
- low blood sugar level after birth.
- risk of getting obese or diabetic later in life.
How to Reduce the Complication Risks During Pregnancy
If the blood sugar levels are kept in check before and during pregnancy, most of the complications related to diabetes can be reduced. This can be done by following some easy steps during pregnancy and even before getting pregnant:
1. Make a Plan
Make a plan to have a complete health checkup before getting pregnant. The blood sugar levels and other effects of diabetes on your body need to be determined. You might need to have certain changes in your life before getting pregnant like losing weight if you are overweight. Do not leave conception to chance.
2. Have Regular Checkups
Pregnancy involves regular health checkups; however, a diabetic woman would need even more checkups than a non-diabetic. This is to ensure that any changes or effects of diabetes are caught early on and further complications to the woman or the unborn child are prevented.
3. Pay Close Attention to Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar changes are very rapid in diabetes, even more if you are on insulin. Pregnancy causes rapid changes in the body and it is very important to know how to handle the changes with insulin, food and exercise. Ensure that you carry glucose or candy in case of emergencies. Also let people around you know about your condition and what to do in case you have a low blood sugar level reaction.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
Diabetics need to follow a special diet plan to ensure that their blood sugar levels are kept in normal. The dietary requirements change even more during pregnancy. Get a special diet made from a dietitian and choose the right foods.
5. Do Some Exercise
Exercise is a must before and during pregnancy for a diabetic woman. Once you are pregnant, get the list of exercises which can be performed safely by you. Ensure that at least 30 minutes of exercise is performed every day like brisk walking or swimming.
6. Use Drugs under Directions
Many medicines are contra-indicated during pregnancy. It is very important to get all the medicines you take to be previously cleared by your doctor for consumption. Take medicines only as indicated and in the suggested dosages only.
7. Take Folic acid Supplement
Folic acid is recommended to women trying to get pregnant and also during pregnancy. The dose is 400 micrograms; however, the requirement increases to 5 milligrams if the woman is a diabetic. This is to ensure that the child is not born with any birth defect such as spina bifida. This can be confirmed by your doctor and should be taken till 12 weeks of pregnancy.
What Else Should I Know?
1. Diabetes Will Affect Your Delivery
In earlier days, it was common practice to deliver the baby by 37th or 38th week if the mother was diabetic. However, these days you can carry the baby to full term if your doctor has advised you to. A tentative date of delivery should be planned along with the doctor and you should be prepared for a c-section delivery as well.
It is always advisable to have the delivery in the hospital to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances. After delivery the baby will have to be monitored for sugar levels and it is best done in a hospital setting. You can have a normal delivery as well and the doctors will be able to provide glucose or insulin as required depending on your blood sugar levels.
2. Take Care of the Health for Both You and Your Baby
Your body will undergo changes after delivery which will affect the insulin levels. The insulin level may fall drastically in the initial days and later get stabilized. The entire process of stabilizing your diabetes and the insulin doses can take up to weeks. You should ensure that you are closely following the changes in your body and consulting your doctor at all levels.
Your baby may have low blood sugar levels after birth and would need to be administered glucose. Jaundice might also be seen after birth and close monitoring would be required.
3. You Can Breastfeed Your Baby
Breast feeding can be done normally if you are on insulin as it is not passed through breast milk; however, oral hypoglycemic tablets can be transferred via milk, hence, it would be advisable to take insulin. The requirements of insulin decrease in such conditions, hence, you need to monitor sugar levels as developing hypoglycemia could be a risk.