Planning ahead: Diabetes and pregnancy no longer a death sentence

December 13, 2011 12:00 AM by

In the recent past, it was highly advised that women with diabetes avoid getting pregnant because of the health complications it would pose to them and their babies. Now, medical providers have developed steps that ladies can take so they can enjoy a safe and healthy gestation, but that doesn't mean all of the risks have been eliminated.

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and are planning to conceive, you may not want to start trying until you've managed to stabilize your blood glucose levels for at least three to six months. Also, speak with your healthcare team so you and your family will know what to do when your blood glucose levels are too high or too low. Soaring levels during the first trimester of pregnancy dramatically increase the likelihood of your child developing birth defects. Large amounts of glucose and ketones (a chemical produced when insulin levels are low and glucose can't be converted into energy) can create a poisonous concoction that will pass from your blood to the baby via the placenta. During those first few weeks of growth, the embryo is rapidly expanding essential neurological functions that are highly
susceptible to complications.

In addition to establishing a safe level of glucose, you'll need to adamantly maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, exercise and an adequate amount of rest. Don't wait until you're pregnant to start making these changes – begin right away. While you're expecting, stay in regular contact with a team of physicians who can help keep you and the baby healthy by noticing any alarming changes right away. This team should include your obstetrician, eye doctor and general practitioner.  

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