Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition in which your blood sugar is too high. It affects 15 million American women, and it’s linked to health issues like nerve damage, heart disease, and pregnancy complications.
If you have diabetes and you’re planning to try for a baby, take steps now — before you get pregnant — to control your blood sugar and manage your diabetes. If you’re already pregnant, it’s never too late to start making healthy changes for yourself and your little one.
Board-certified OB/GYN A. Michael Coppa, MD, and our team specialize in high-risk pregnancy care. We understand that being pregnant and diabetic can be overwhelming, and we’re here to help. Here are three things you should know about diabetes and pregnancy.
Diabetes makes your pregnancy a higher risk
If you have diabetes, we consider your pregnancy to be high-risk, whether you had diabetes before you got pregnant or you developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
A high-risk pregnancy means you’re more likely to develop complications that put your health or your baby’s health at risk.
Pregnancy can elevate your blood sugar, which may increase your risk of diabetes complications like kidney disease, eye problems, and nerve damage. Having diabetes can also increase your risk of pregnancy complications, like preterm birth and preeclampsia.
Regardless of the type of diabetes you have, regular prenatal care and diabetes management are essential. Seeking proactive care is the best way to ensure both you and your baby are as healthy as possible.
High blood sugar affects your baby’s health and development
When you have diabetes, high blood sugar damages your body over time. When you’re pregnant, high blood sugar can also negatively affect your baby’s development.
Your baby’s organs start forming during the first eight weeks of pregnancy. High blood sugar can interfere with early development of their brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys. If you have uncontrolled high blood sugar in early pregnancy, your baby’s risk of birth defects could be higher.
As pregnancy progresses, diabetes can increase your baby’s risk of other complications. Women with diabetes are more likely to have babies who:
- Are born prematurely
- Weigh too much
- Have breathing problems after birth
- Have low blood sugar after birth
High blood sugar may also put you at risk of miscarriage or stillbirth during pregnancy. Fortunately, keeping your blood sugar in check before and during pregnancy can lower these risks.
Your diabetes management plan might need to change
Managing your blood sugar is the best way to control diabetes and avoid more serious complications, whether you’re pregnant or not. That’s why having a diabetes management plan is essential.
But hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy can affect your blood sugar levels, so your diabetes management needs might change once you’re pregnant.
You may need to adjust your diabetes treatment to keep your blood sugar under control. These adjustments might include your:
- Meal plan
- Exercise routine
- Diabetes medication
Dr. Coppa works with you and your diabetes care team to find a new management plan that fits your needs. We continue adjusting your care as your pregnancy progresses and as you navigate the postpartum period.
Whether you’re already expecting or you’re thinking about starting a family, we’re here to help. Call the office nearest you or request your first appointment online now. We have locations in Cranston, Providence, and Smithfield, Rhode Island.