Pregnancy period is the time when a woman has to go through several body changes and experiences. It is filled with wonder and amazement! Along with the excitement of welcoming the baby there are many complications to the whole phase. Pregnancy becomes a way tougher when the mother suffers from diabetes.
The changes in the food habits, cravings and hormones during pregnancy can lead to abnormal changes in the blood sugar level which may lead to ‘Gestational diabetes’. However, it is more difficult for the already diabetic mothers. A lot of care has to be taken for such mothers so that they are able to give birth to a healthy diabetes free baby.
Note: Gestational diabetes is the diabetic condition which develops in pregnant women. According to study, about 4% of pregnant women without pre-existing diabetes may develop this around 28 week mark. Although, the reason for this is not known, but it is believed that the changes in the hormones and food habits give rise to insulin deficiency in the body which leads to gestational diabetes. This may cause problems even after the child birth; therefore, such pregnant women are advised to follow special meals and exercises.
Untreated or poorly treated diabetic mothers may give birth to bigger babies with abnormal weight which is considered un-healthy for both mother and child. So if you are a to be mother with diabetes then the following information is very important to you and your baby.
Precautions for diabetic to be mothers:
Smoking is very injurious to health and especially when you are diabetic and pregnant. Smoking hikes up your blood sugar level. Therefore, you need to kick off this bad habit as soon as possible. Try doing something else or keep yourself busy with other stuffs so that you won’t have to smoke.
Keep your A1C (average blood glucose over the past two to three months) below 7%
Consult with your doctor and keep a check on your blood sugar level. Some doctors even say that the A1C level should be below 6.5 or 6. If you have pre-existing diabetes, then you and your doctor have to set a goal for your blood sugar level and do the needful such as new medications, exercising, diet plans and more to reach the goal. For type 2 diabetic mothers, oral medicines are prescribed and during the pregnancy phase, they may have to depend on insulin syringe for required insulin supply in the body.
Do all the necessary health and fertility check-ups before conceiving
Along with A1C test, diabetic women may also need to some more tests such as blood pressure test, thyroid functions test and cholesterol level checks. Even the father needs to go through genetic tests so that any issue arising can be treated beforehand. Other than these, diabetic women should also go through comprehensive eye check-ups since diabetes may lead to eye disease retinopathy if the diabetes rises to a serious level. There are chances of even more complications such as kidney problems, heart problems, hearing problems, nerve problems and more. Therefore, a thorough check up is needed to be done and treated properly with medications, so that the baby is healthy.
Lose weight if necessary
If you are diabetic and or obese it’s advised that you lose weight before conceiving. You can talk with your doctor about the amount of weight you need to lose to avoid complications during pregnancy and child birth. A combo of diabetes and obesity raises the chances of abnormality in the blood pressure during pregnancy .This rise or fall in blood pressure eventually leads to more complications for the mother and she may also have to go through the caesarean section for the child birth. Therefore, it’s better to lose weight accordingly before conceiving after consulting with the doctor.
Take folic acid daily to prevent birth defects
For diabetic woman who wish to conceive, it’s advised that they begin taking daily dosage of 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid, three months prior to conceiving. This folic acid will help in reducing the chances of birth defects like spina bifida. You can get your folic acid from your regular vitamin supplements or you may ask your doctor for a prescription for it. Some vitamin supplements lack the right amount of folic acid you need for your body, therefore, ask your doctor before taking any of those. Moreover, some drugs such as statins, ACE inhibitors etc. include over the top counter meds, like ibuprofen which can be harmful for the baby. So, it’s better to consult with your doctor before taking any kind of drug or supplement if you are planning to conceive in diabetic state.
Prepare a special diet plan
A huge change in your diet plans needs to be done if you are diabetic. Elimination and addition of some new food items in your diet will definitely aid you in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. For help and guidance, you must contact a registered dietician who will brief you about the food items you need to eat which will help you in reducing the blood sugar level and also have a healthy pregnancy!
Stop drinking alcohols
Reduce your alcohol intake if you plan to get pregnant. Alcohol may cause problems in the body during pregnancy. You may substitute alcohol with a non-alcoholic spritzer made from seltzer water and a splash of juice.
Stay away from unsafe food
Ask you dietician to prepare a list of food items that you need to stay away from when you are diabetic and pregnant. Food items such as raw meat, lunch meat, raw fish, smoked seafood, soft cheeses like brie and gorgonzola, fish with high mercury levels (like tuna) and unpasteurized milk are to be avoided in such conditions. Stick to the healthy food items such as fruits and vegetables.
Take help from an expert and plan a workout regime accordingly to lose weight. Burning the harmful fats in your body will make you healthy and feel fresh. If you are not so ‘exercise-friendly’ person, then try walking for 30 minutes daily at lunch time. Avoid extreme sports, kick-boxing and exercises that requires you to lie on your back (since it reduces the blood flow to the foetus). However, it’s safe for swimming and bike riding during pregnant condition. There are several parental yoga exercises that you may try. Avoid overdoing anything, take breaks, stay hydrated and stop immediately if you feel any kind of severe pain anywhere.
Try being with friends and family
Pregnancy isn’t an easy experience. Having you family and friends along with you for support, can help you in lots of ways. Your mother or aunt can give you advises on how to remain healthy during the pregnancy period. You may also link up with other diabetic pregnant women at diabetes forums or communities or dedicated websites for sharing your experience, to get more information and support.
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you cannot conceive a child. However, you need to follow some measures and rules. If you are planning to have a baby then it’s suggested that you consult with a doctor months before conceiving. A diabetic body may cause problems during pregnancy and child birth, therefore, to diminish any negative impact of the diabetes during such times, you may have to go through many treatments and follow special diet plans and workout regimes. Follow the guidelines of medical experts who will help you through the whole phase so that you can give birth to a healthy baby and have a family of your own like normal people.
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