It is very important to take care of health if a person is suffering from a chronic disease such as diabetes, and it becomes more important to take care of health if that person is pregnant. Some women have diabetes before becoming pregnant. There is no reason that people having diabetes cannot deliver a healthy and successful baby. People with diabetes can give birth to a baby, but the only thing they need to do is consult a physician and take proper care of their health.
WHAT CAN A WOMAN DO TO BECOME PREGNANT IF SHE HAS DIABETES?
If a woman plans for pregnancy, the most important step she needs to take is consulting a doctor. Taking advice will help to bring out the best results for the mother as well as her baby. As you have diabetes, you can take advice from your doctor about what you need to do and what precautions you need to take before becoming pregnant to minimize risk.
A woman having diabetes possess a slightly higher risk than another woman for the baby:
- Having a congenital disability
- Premature birth
- Too much or too little weight
- May suffer from jaundice
- May have low blood sugar levels after birth.
There are higher chances of having a miscarriage or having high blood pressure during the pregnancy. However, these risks can be minimized by having a before-planning and obtaining the best possible ways to control the blood sugar at the time of conception and during the first few months of pregnancy.
HOW TO STAY HEALTHY DURING PREGNANCY?
During pregnancy, the hormones of a woman behave differently as compared to normal times. A woman needs to make some possible changes according to the hormones and metabolism so that diabetes can be managed accordingly. The insulin conditions may be changed throughout the pregnancy period and even after the delivery.
For example, during the early pregnancy period, the body may begin to utilize glucose more effectively than usual, which means you require less insulin. During this time, you may be at risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar).
There are chances that the usual symptoms of hypoglycaemia can vary. Some common signs of hypoglycaemia include shaking, sweating, headache, confusion, paleness, mood swings and changes in behaviour.
Later in the pregnancy, the placenta will have grown to provide the nutrition required by the body to develop. Unfortunately, it also begins to produce hormones that negatively impact the ability of insulin to do its work properly, which may lead to a state of insulin resistance from about the fifth or sixth month of the pregnancy. This resistance may lead to taking more insulin. Some women require taking twice their usual insulin dose during this time.
Final 4 to 6 weeks
During the final 4 to 6 weeks of the pregnancy, the requirement for insulin may be diverse again and may require less insulin at this time. After the baby’s birth, the insulin needs shall decline, compared to the earlier situation when you were pregnant, making it difficult to control blood sugar levels.
It is very important to make changes according to the health situations, monitor diabetes, and take advice from doctors regularly to ensure that the diabetes is under control. Testing the blood glucose every day helps to monitor the body’s situation and helps you and the doctor adjust the insulin dosage if necessary. There are no hard and fast rules about the insulin regimen. It depends on the recommendations of the doctor. He/she monitors the situation of women, gives
insulin if necessary, and changes the insulin routine if required.
WHAT CAUSES DIABETES DURING PREGNANCY?
Some women have pre-gestational diabetes, which means that women have diabetes before getting pregnant. Some women get diabetes only during their pregnancy, and that is called gestational diabetes. Pregnancy changes glucose in a woman’s body and can lead to gestational diabetes, and even it can make the diabetes situation worse.
The placenta is an organ that provides nutrients and oxygen to the baby during pregnancy. During late pregnancy, the hormones can block insulin. The blockage of insulin is called insulin resistance. Glucose may face problems in moving inside the cells of the body. The glucose stays inside the blood, and as a result, the blood sugar level rises.
WHO IS AT RISK FOR DIABETES DURING PREGNANCY?
The risk elements for diabetes during pregnancy relies on the type of diabetes:
- Generally, Type 1 diabetes occurs in children or young adults, but it can start at any age.
- Women who are overweight have Type 2 diabetes.
- Usually, overweight women have gestational diabetes. It also happens in women who earlier had
gestational diabetes. If a family member has Type 2 diabetes, then the women will likely suffer from this
disease. Women having twins or more may suffer from this disease.
HOW IS DIABETES DIAGNOSED DURING PREGNANCY?
Generally, all women, including non-diabetic pregnant women, are screened for gestational diabetes
between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. During this period, a glucose screening test is conducted. For
conducting this test, a glucose drink is given, and then the blood glucose level is tested after 2 hours.
In case the test shows a rise in the blood glucose level, then a test is conducted naming the 3-hour
glucose tolerance test. And if the second test does not show the normal result, then gestational diabetes
HOW IS DIABETES TREATED DURING PREGNANCY?
Usually, the treatment depends on the symptoms, age and general health. It also depends on the
question that how difficult the situation is.
The treatment is conducted, keeping the blood glucose level in the normal range. The treatment may
include the following:
- A meticulous diet that contains a fewer amount of foods and drinks.
- Proper exercise to keep the body fit
- Monitoring the blood glucose levels
- Insulin injections under the guidance of doctors
- Oral medicines for hypoglycaemia
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF DIABETES DURING PREGNANCY?
Women who have diabetes before getting pregnant are most likely to suffer from complications.
Possible complications include the following:
- Requirement of insulin injections more often
- Sometimes, the blood sugar level decreases and is not treated on time. It can be dangerous for life.
- If the blood glucose level rises, it can cause ketoacidosis, which is dangerous or healthy if left
There are chances that women who have gestational diabetes may have Type 2 diabetes in their future.
And there are chances that they may develop gestational diabetes during their further pregnancy.
Women having gestational diabetes should get tested a few months later the baby is born and every
three years after that.
The possible complications for the baby include the following:
- Stillbirth (foetal death) – Women who have diabetes have the chances of stillbirth. Due to poor
circulation or other conditions such as high blood pressure or small blood vessels, the baby may grow
slowly in the uterus. The risk of stillbirth increases in women when they have poor glucose control and
blood vessels changes.
- Macrosomia – This term refers to a baby that is much larger than normal. The baby gets all the
nutrients directly from the blood of the mother. If the mother’s blood contains too much sugar, then the
baby’s pancreas makes more insulin to utilize this glucose; this leads to forming fat, and ultimately, the
baby grows very large
- Congenital disabilities– The babies of diabetic mothers are more likely to have congenital disabilities.
Some congenital disabilities are so serious that it even causes stillbirth. Generally, congenital disabilities
happen during the first trimester of pregnancy. The babies of the diabetic mother might suffer from
major congenital disabilities in the heart and blood vessels, brain and spine, urinary system and kidneys,
and digestive system.
- Birth injury – Due to the large size of the baby and difficulty while the baby’s birth, a birth injury may
- Trouble breathing – Too much insulin or too much glucose in the baby’s system may keep the lungs
from growing fully. Due to this, the baby can face problems in breathing; this is more likely to happen in
babies born before 37 of pregnancy.
Antara Chowdhury is a Content Marketer and Strategist with 6 years of experience. She is Master degree holder in Journalism and wants to explore everything she can write on.