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It is Possible to Manage Diabetes During a Pregnancy

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Diabetes during a pregnancy increases the risk of preeclampsia, high blood pressure and urinary tract infections.
  • Heightened blood glucose levels could mean that the fetus grows to a larger-than-normal size, meaning that giving birth could be difficult, with the chances of a miscarriage or a still birth also increased.
  • Pregnant diabetics should increase their consumption of vegetables, eat plenty of protein-rich food while reducing their carbohydrate intake. They should also avoid overly sweet fruits and always be sure to attend their doctor’s appointments.

 

  • Who is at risk of diabetes during pregnancy?
  • The effects for the mother
  • The effects for the unborn child
  • Regulating blood glucose levels to reduce the risks posed by diabetes during a pregnancy

Diabetes is a condition with which most of us are probably quite familiar. It is a disorder resulting from heightened blood glucose levels, meaning that the body cannot use it quickly enough and when glucose levels remain high for an extended period of time, it could lead to abnormalities affecting the function of various vital organs. The condition can affect anyone but when it affects a mother during pregnancy, it becomes particularly worrying. Some women may already be diabetic when they become pregnant while others may only develop the condition during their pregnancy. Regardless of how the condition came about, diabetes can pose a risk on the health and safety of both, mother and child.

Who is at risk of diabetes during pregnancy?

There are a multitude of reasons why a woman can develop diabetes during her pregnancy. Such factors include a person’s genetics, meaning women with a family history of the disorder; age, due to women over the age of 30 being at greater risk as a result of changes their bodies are undergoing; past pregnancies, including those women who have given birth to children weighing more than 4kg, those who have given birth to disabled children, or those who have previously suffered an idiopathic still birth; as well as obesity and high blood pressure. Whatever the cause, the potential effects of a diabetic pregnancy can be categorized into the following two main aspects:

The effects for the mother

Mothers with heightened glucose levels are placed at greater risk of the following conditions: preeclampsia; high blood pressure during pregnancy; and a deterioration in vascular, vision, kidney and nerve function. Moreover, the chances of contracting a urinary tract infection are also significantly increased by diabetes.

The effect for the unborn child

Heightened blood glucose levels result in crucial changes to the development of the unborn child, with increased growth being one such change that can lead to difficulties when giving birth, as well as an increased risk of a miscarriage or a stillbirth. If the child does survive the birth, they may experience breathing difficulties, while other potential issues that may arise include low blood glucose levels, jaundice and mineral deficiencies.

Regulating blood glucose levels to reduce the risks posed by diabetes during a pregnancy

It is crucial for pregnant women to be extremely vigilant of their blood glucose levels during the pregnancy, ensuring that they remain within the normal range at all times. When mothers-to-be place their pregnancy under the care of medical professionals, the doctors will carry out glucose levels testing and, when the pregnancy reaches 24-28 weeks, they will screen for diabetes. The doctors may then request appointments more frequently than normal to ensure they can monitor the health of both, mother and baby, while also undertaking regular blood tests to analyze blood glucose levels in order to inform any subsequent treatment. Pregnant women must be extremely scrupulous when choosing what to eat and be sure to partake in regular exercise because, if a woman is still at risk of diabetes despite adhering to the aforementioned regimen, doctors will need to consider insulin injections as another way to regulate blood glucose levels. Pregnant women should increase their consumption of vegetables, eat plenty of protein rich food while reducing their carbohydrate intake. They should also avoid or give up eating sweet fruits and be sure to exercise regularly to support a biological balance.

As you can see, being pregnant and diabetic requires extreme caution as the disorder can easily cause harm to both mother and child, including increasing the risk of other dangerous conditions, such as preeclampsia. However, with proper treatment and care, the risks and dangers posed by the condition can be significantly reduced. By adhering to this advice, it is quite possible that the health of both mother and child can be assured without any great difficulty.


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Assoc. Prof. Boonsri Chanrachakul, M.D. Summary: Obstetrics And Gynaecology Maternal And Fetal Medicine