Are you diagnosed with type 1 or 2 diabetes, and you are planning to have a baby? If so, you might be worried about the risks and want to know how to move forward. Well, you have come to the right place as this article will help to put your mind at ease with some suggestions for you to help you start preparing. It is important for persons to make plans before starting a family, but even more so when they have diabetes. Read on to find out how to prepare for pregnancy if you have diabetes.
There are some simple steps that you can take to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy and baby. One of the first steps is to contact your doctor to set up an appointment for about three to six months before the time you are planning to conceive. On this visit, the doctor will do a number of things including:
- Testing your urine and blood for any kidney complications related to diabetes.
- Ordering an A1C test to determine if your diabetes condition is well-controlled for you to stop taking birth control.
- Checking for other health problems related to diabetes, such as heart, nerve, or organ damage.
- Testing to find out if you have thyroid disease, linked to Type 1 diabetes.
- Taking your blood pressure.
- Suggesting an eye examination to screen for cataracts, retinopathy, and glaucoma.
- Checking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Recommending consulting with specialists. If you are going to your regular family doctor, he or she might suggest that you get preconception counseling from an obstetrician who focuses on high-risk pregnancies, registered dietician, a diabetes educator, or some other specialist.
We will now take a closer look at preconception counseling.
This is one other important step to take when you are a diabetic who wants to get pregnant. The counseling is really an educational session that will help you to get emotionally and physically prepared as well as healthy for conception. At this appointment, you will have discussion on topics such as:
Lifestyle: Teratogens such as smoking or drinking alcohol during pregnancy can negatively affect both you and your baby prior to, during as well as after birth. If you are doing any of these things, you need to stop. When you smoke, substances such as nicotine, carbon monoxide, and various other toxins can cause many problems. This include depriving you and your baby of oxygen, increasing the risk of low birth weight or prematurity, elevating your baby’s heart rate, boosting the chances of stillbirth and miscarriage, in addition to making your baby prone to breathing or lung problems in the future. As for drinking alcohol, this can lead to birth defects which include mental retardation and some physical problems.
Weight: You need to be at your ideal weight before getting pregnant. Losing a few pounds can help to prevent further complications with diabetes if you are overweight. On the other hand, adding a few pounds to your underweight body can prevent you from delivering a baby with low birth weight.
Prenatal Vitamins: These vitamins contain folic acid, and they can help to fill any gaps in your nutrition. Ideally, you would start taking them a few months before getting pregnant. If you start to take a vitamin with folic acid at least a month before conceiving, you are less likely to have a baby with a neural tube condition such as spina bifida. This is a serious condition that prevents the spinal cord and brain from developing normally.
Blood Sugar: Your doctor is going to check to see whether or not your blood sugar level is under control. This is important because you might not know that you are pregnant after two to four weeks. If your blood sugar level is high in the first thirteen weeks, this can cause miscarriage, birth defects, and diabetes complications.
Medications: Your doctor will tell you how you can adjust medication dosages as you are going to need far more insulin throughout pregnancy, particularly in the last three months. If you are taking diabetes pills or certain high blood pressure treatments, your doctor might make the switch to insulin in order to avoid harming the baby. Aside from that, you should discuss every medication that you are taking with your doctor.
Healthy Meal Planning: You will have to make changes to your diet when preparing to have a baby. This will help to avoid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Your body will also need more calories in order to feed the growing baby. Your diabetes diet can include lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. A registered dietician can help you to customize diabetic meal plans to better suit your pre-pregnancy requirements.
Manage Stress: It is crucial to avoid stress when preparing for pregnancy. Excessive stress can affect your blood sugar levels and make it much harder for you to take proper care of yourself.
Exercise: Physical activity is one of the other important parts of a diabetes treatment plan. Your doctor will recommend exercises that you could do, during your preconception appointment. Activities such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming can be helpful.
Diabetes and pregnancy do not have to be a high-risk combination as long as you take the necessary steps to prepare. Managing your blood sugar and making healthier lifestyle choices, prior to getting pregnant, can certainly help to make a big difference.