If you have diabetes, you need not fear that the disease will rob you of your parental hopes and dreams should you become pregnant. Getting and keeping your diabetes in check before, during, and after the birth of your baby will help ensure a healthy baby and healthier you.
Some Startling Statistics
According to the March of Dimes organization, nearly 9 out of every 100 U.S. women suffer from diabetes. That’s nearly 10 percent of all American women! Approximately 3 of those 9 women, or one-third, do not even realize they have the disease. Proper and consistent management of the disease helps those suffering from it lead full, active, and healthy lives.
Pregnancy and Diabetes
Physicians consider any pregnancy of a diabetic or pre-diabetic woman as high risk. Having a high-risk pregnancy does not necessarily indicate that you’ll have problems. Instead, it means that your doctor will pay special attention to your health and may work collaboratively with other healthcare providers to help you have a healthy pregnancy. Your OB/GYN physician can provide you with a special treatment plan designed to help you effectively manage your diabetes during pregnancy.
Where to Start
OB/GYN doctors and primary care physicians realize that pregnant women with diabetes can help maintain a healthy lifestyle by keeping their blood glucose level within the target range. A diabetes management plan provides a good starting point for keeping diabetic moms-to-be healthy, even before pregnancy. The plan should include a balanced diet, exercise regimen, and regular insulin checks. Doctors also recommend that pregnant women maintain a daily record of insulin checks to ensure their blood glucose level – commonly called blood sugar – stays within the target range.
Poorly controlled blood glucose levels in a pregnant woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes could lead to problems for both the mother and the baby. These women must make getting the proper healthcare, both prenatal and before pregnancy, a priority. With properly managed diabetes, you can reduce your chances of a difficult pregnancy and increase the likelihood of delivering healthy baby.
Before Becoming Pregnant
Your physician can help you experience a healthy and satisfying life by showing you how to maintain your health before becoming pregnant. Read this handy checklist to help you prepare for your pregnancy:
- Get your diabetes under control 3 to 6 months before you trying to become pregnant.
- Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid once a day. Your doctor may increase your daily dose of folic acid to help reduce the risk of birth defects. Women need folic acid every day, whether planning to get pregnant or not, for the daily production healthy new cells.
- If already pregnant, see your OB/GYN immediately so you can begin proper prenatal care.
- Tell your doctor about any medications you take. He will determine the safety of these medications during pregnancy and advise you to either continue or stop taking them. During pregnancy, insulin offers the safest way to manage diabetes.
- Ask your doctor what types of daily physical activity he recommends to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.
- Make an appointment with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator, who can design a healthy meal plan for you.
Baby’s Arrival: What to Expect
Once you give birth, you will still need to follow the necessary steps to keep your diabetes in check.
For many new moms, breastfeeding offers the healthiest option for both you and baby. You and your baby gain many benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect your baby from bacterial and viral infections and is the easiest for baby’s body to digest.
Screening tests are also important. Within 48 hours of your baby’s birth, the hospital care team will take a sample of blood from your child’s heel and the baby’s blood is tested for diseases. In the event that hospital staff uncovers a treatable disease, the attending physicians will recommend and provide treatment. The baby’s physician will also screen your baby for hearing loss by 1 month of age. Ask your child’s pediatrician about these critical screenings and an immunization schedule so you can easily keep up to date on necessary vaccinations.
Smart and Healthy
Carefully follow the diabetes management plan designed by your physician and keep all prenatal appointments to give you and your baby the best opportunity for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, free from problems.