'Congratulations! You're pregnant!' Almost all women long to hear these words and nothing should come in the way, even diabetes. So, if you are a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic, here are a few things you should keep in mind to have a healthy baby.
- Your blood sugar must be monitored regularly: The most important thing you can do to have a healthy baby is to keep your blood sugar as close to normal before and during your pregnancy. Testing is recommended a minimum of four times a day. Glucose passes through the mother's blood to the fetus and hence if your blood sugar fluctuates, so will your baby's. High blood sugar levels are especially harmful during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy when the baby's brain, heart, kidneys and lungs are formed.
- Your pregnancy is considered high risk: High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of a miscarriage as well as the risks of your baby being born with birth defects. Diabetes can also increase the risk of developing preeclampsia during the second half of your pregnancy. This could result in a C section or premature birth. Thus, maintain regular checkups and keep your doctor in the loop of all your activities.
- You should watch out for signs of ketosis: When you have low blood sugar, the body produces ketones that can be passed on from you to your baby. This production of ketones is a result of the body's burning of fat instead of glucose to provide energy and can develop a condition called ketosis. Symptoms you should watch out for are stomach aches, nausea, fatigue, muscle stiffness, frequent urination and fruity breath.
- You need Vitamins and Supplements: Most women require vitamin and mineral supplements at the time of pregnancy. Of these, folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D are the most important. These supplements help in the healthy growth of the baby.
- You should exercise regularly: Maintaining a regular physical activity routine is very important for diabetics who are expecting a baby. This will help you regularize your blood sugar, relieve stress and strengthen your heart. Avoid activities that increase your risk of falling and aim for at least thirty minutes of daily exercise such as walking, swimming or yoga.
- Check your medication: Some medication can be detrimental during pregnancy such as cholesterol and blood pressure medication. Consult your doctor to find a suitable alternative, if needed. You may also need to change the kind of insulin you take and its frequency and amount. As you get closer to the delivery date, your insulin requirement may even double or triple.
The key to preventing complications during pregnancy is controlling your diabetes. So take your insulin regularly, maintain regular checkups and eat healthy. You need to be seen by your obstetrician more frequently. Your pregnancy will be monitored closely by more frequent ultrasounds and NST. If your sugar level remains under control and pregnancy is advancing well, a natural onset of pains is aimed for and a normal delivery is expected.