Diabetes and Pregnancy: Preparing for Conception

With type 1 and type 2 diabetes, it is recommended that preparing for pregnancy begin months prior to conception.

Only seven weeks after a woman’s last period, about the time she realizes she is pregnant, the baby’s organs have already developed. Since high blood sugar and harmful ketones can pass through the placenta, it is important for the mother’s glucose levels to already be well-controlled.

A Preconception Doctor Visit

If you are ready to start or add to your family, discuss the desire for pregnancy with your physician. When blood sugar is managed carefully before and during the pregnancy, the odds of delivering a healthy baby are nearly the same as for non-diabetics.

A preconception exam usually involves tests for high blood pressure, heart or kidney problems, nerve damage, and vision complications. Doctors will typically check A1C levels to monitor glucose control over the past few months. Having A1C readings of less than 7 percent is recommended; less than 6 percent is ideal.

Your physician will also help you set daily glucose goals. The American Diabetes Association suggests before-meal readings of 60-199 mg/dl, and readings of 100-149 mg/dl an hour after eating.

Meds Appropriate for Pregnancy?

Some diabetes medications and supplements are not recommended for use during pregnancy. This includes certain oral diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney medications. Switching to pregnancy-friendly alternatives well before getting pregnant is best for Mom and baby.

Fortunately, insulin does not cross the placental barrier, so it can be used during pregnancy. If you are on an oral prescription, your doctor may switch you to insulin. Since new and long-term insulin users need to have glucose levels stable before conceiving some women might need to increase their daily dose, number of injections, or possibly start using an insulin pump.

Preparing Your Body

While getting your blood sugar level ready for pregnancy, it is a good idea to get your body in shape as well. Discuss your exercise regimen, or lack of it, with your doctor. Regular physical activity is safe for pregnant women and helps control glucose.

If you are already exercising, your physician might recommend adjustments to your routine. If you are not getting exercise, the doctor can suggest a safe way to get started. Good activities for pregnant women include swimming, stationary biking, walking, and low-impact aerobics.

Setting up a Team

While you are getting your blood sugar steadied and your body in shape, you can also assemble a health care team to see you through conception, pregnancy, and child birth. You may want some or all the following individuals ready and waiting to assist you and the baby:

  • A doctor trained to care for people with diabetes, including pregnant women (if you are not already seeing one).
  • An obstetrician who has expertise with diabetes and high-risk pregnancies.
  • A registered dietitian to help you control your blood sugar before and after conception, and post pregnancy.
  • A neonatologist or pediatrician knowledgeable about baby issues related to a mother’s diabetes.

If You Need to Wait

If your doctor recommends waiting until your glucose is more stable before conceiving, it is wise for you and your partner to settle on a birth control method. The options are the same as for women without diabetes: the pill, implants, IUD (intrauterine device), diaphragm, condoms, and spermicides. Your health history, personal, and partner preferences are the deciding factors.

Sources: American Diabetes Association, The Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Steve Slater

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

It is estimated that 80,000 children and adolescents each year are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Juvenile diabetes is diagnosed when the body...

As the summer months come to an end, we throw aside our swimsuits and bring out our favorite team jerseys! In America, fall means football, and...

The medical community relies heavily on the goodwill of its citizens, as giving blood and organ donations help save thousands of lives every year...

Evidence is mounting that consuming black cumin helps to manage type 2 diabetes. The spice lowered blood glucose...

It's not uncommon to spend several years living with type 2 diabetes and not even know you have the condition. Despite regular check-ups with your...

More Articles

Type 2 diabetes has become so common in Western culture and media that this often lifelong, serious condition doesn't really raise an eyebrow...

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

Lantus is a once a day insulin injection that is taken at the same time every day. It replaces anywhere from the average three to five insulin...

Improving your A1C reading requires you to maintain consistently healthy blood...

Just because you have diabetes doesn't mean you can't help your community by being a blood donor. When persons with diabetes maintain good control...

Most of us do not regularly keep the fruit that scientists call Fortunella margarita in our refrigerator. That these small, yellow-orange...

A diagnosis of diabetes usually comes with a list of recommended lifestyle changes. To make these diet and exercise...

Having diabetes affects your body’s ability to handle hot, humid weather, and steamy temperatures can degrade diabetes supplies. But all of this...

Fashion and function come together in clothing developed by AnnaPS, making life a bit more comfortable and convenient for insulin users. The...

Not only is dry skin uncomfortable, but scratched or cracked skin is also susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections – common medical...

One way to ensure our body gets a variety of nutrients is eating nutrient-dense foods, and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on our planet is...

Financial aid and scholarship money are available for people with diabetes, but acquiring it requires an investment of time and patience. Whether...

Any sweetener you use to replace table sugar is a sugar substitute. One type of sugar substitute is artificial sweetener. Three other types...

Smoking is a proven health hazard for everyone, but it is an especially dangerous habit for those with diabetes. Research shows that smokers with...

While life on the road can be tough on musicians, it’s especially challenging for those battling diabetes. Some musicians have to check their...