Living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is already quite a daunting task. There are several restrictions placed on you in terms of the kind of life you lead. But fear not- wanting to have a baby even with diabetes is perfectly healthy as long as your pregnancy is properly planned, and your blood sugars stay in control. Here’s a little guide on how exactly you can prepare to create a healthy and happy environment for your little one!
Let’s get into how diabetes could affect your baby’s growth inside your womb first. Even though these are just the possible risks that could happen, it’s important to be aware of how high blood glucose levels could hamper your little one’s development.
- Having high blood sugar levels could affect the baby’s weight, the baby’s respiration and there is a chance of premature birth.
- All the crucial organs are formed in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy- the liver, heart, kidneys and the brain. High blood sugar levels could seriously hamper the growth of these organs during this crucial time. There are chances of defects in the heart and spine as well.
- In serious cases, there are chances of a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
How should you go about preparing for a pregnancy with diabetes?
First things first, it’s important to visit your doctor at least 3 months before conception. If you and your partner are having talks about getting pregnant, make sure you keep your doctor in the loop. Your doctor might suggest pre-conception counselling or counsel you themselves. There are certain tests that they might want you to do:
- Get a urine and blood test for kidney and liver functioning.
- Get a thyroid test done to rule it out in case of type 1 diabetes.
- Get your blood pressure taken.
- Get an eye exam done to rule out glaucoma, cataracts, etc.
- Get an A1-C test done to see how controlled your diabetes is.
- Get a test done to check your cholesterol levels.
Your doctor might also refer you to certain specialists like dieticians, nutritionists, obstetrician or a diabetes educator so that you can get a holistic view of what the coming 9 months will look like for you.
Focusing on your blood sugar levels will become very crucial during this period. Not just during pregnancy, but before conception as well. You want to create a normal, well regulated environment for your little one to live in! Pregnancy diabetes can be controlled with effort and the right advice. As we discussed earlier, all the vital organs of your baby are formed during the first 8 weeks – and high blood sugar levels during this time could pose a serious risk for healthy growth. Like any woman who becomes pregnant, your hormones behave differently during pregnancy than at other times. You will have to be aware of the impact of these possible changes to your insulin levels. Your doctor will also give you a target blood sugar range that you should do your best to stick you. As long as it’s in a normal range, or as close to normal as possible there should be no cause for concern.
What medications are safe to treat diabetes during pregnancy?
If you are already on certain medication to treat your diabetes, you might want to review them with your doctor. For example some oral tablets for diabetes can be harmful to consume during pregnancy. Sometimes hypertension is common with diabetes, if you do suffer from hypertension then the medications for the same will need to be reviewed by your doctor. Diabetes during pregnancy can be made better with the help of medications, as long as you have made sure they are safe to consume! Your doctor will help you out there.
What kind of lifestyle changes should you make?
Here we’ll discuss the 3 main areas of lifestyle changes to make when you have diabetes during pregnancy. Diet, exercise and habits.
If you have a habit of drinking or smoking you will have to stop before conception. Smoking or drinking while pregnancy can lead to a plethora of problems, ranging from problems for the baby’s breathing or even miscarriages and stillbirths.
Getting regular, gentle exercise during pregnancy works wonders for mothers even without diabetes. With diabetes, you will have to be more careful and make sure you speak to a doctor or a mid-wife and get your exercise routine approved by them and make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise for diabetes involves doing yoga; it has proven to be immensely beneficial for your baby’s health and your health. Swimming, walking, stationary cycling are all great options for exercise and serve as good stress boosters.
Being diabetic, you are no stranger to being on a certain type of diet. You might already be aware of your trigger foods and the foods you absolutely must avoid. Your nutritionist will help you create a unique pregnancy diabetes diet that works for you that you should stick to in order to have a smooth pregnancy. Lots of water, fruits, vegetables and whole grains will boost your health. Prenatal vitamins are extremely important too. Get a prescription from your doctor about which vitamins you will need. Even though it can be very hard to control your cravings, having good, wholesome and nutritious food will make all the difference in the world.
Manage your stress effectively
You might be aware of how negatively stress impacts the hormones in your body. It causes cortisol to rise up, which spikes your adrenaline and causes hypertension. While your physical well-being and health is extremely important, remember to not gloss over your mental health. Having a good support system, making sure you have enough time to meet your friends, do some work to keep you busy will help you stay happy. Also, never underestimate the importance of a good self-care routine. Take some time out, brew some green tea, have a nice long shower and enjoy your favourite TV show or a book. It makes for a great de-stressor.