Conception With Diabetes
In the past, doctors use to advise women who had diabetes not to get pregnant - it was simply too dangerous. Fortunately, this is absolutely no longer the case. Many diabetic women now have normal pregnancies and healthy babies, providing they coordinate well with their medical specialists and take care to manage their condition. If you are diabetic and hoping to get pregnant, you should take steps to promote a health pregnancy, even before conception takes place.
Risks Of Uncontrolled Diabetes
Although having diabetes is certainly no longer a reason to put off getting pregnant, it's important to emphasize that poorly controlled blood sugar (glucose) levels before and during pregnancy can cause serious health complications for both mother and baby. Here are some of the risks involved:
- A higher chance of miscarriage or premature birth.
- A higher chance of birth defects in the baby (this is caused by poorly controlled levels of glucose and keytones - both of which are common in untreated diabetes sufferers. During the first few weeks of pregnancy, the baby's organs are forming. If during this period the mother's glucose levels are either too high or too low, the baby's organs can be damaged. That's why it's important that a mother's glucose levels are well-managed before she even gets pregnant).
- The possibility of having a very large baby (overfed on glucose passing through the placenta), which makes labor and delivery tough on both mother and baby.
- A risk of hypoglycemia and/or jaundice in the baby after birth, and a risk of eye sight problems in the mother.
These are just some of the reasons why diabetic women need to consult their health care providers before getting pregnant. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends that diabetic women coordinate with their doctors to have their blood glucose levels well under control for between three and six months before conception.
Pre-conception consultations with medical specialists are now increasingly recommended for all women, not just women with diabetes. But if you're diabetic and you want to have a baby, this stage of the getting pregnant process is especially important. As a diabetic, you should be in regular contact with an endocrinologist or diabetes specialist who monitors your condition and tells you what type of medication to take, and how often, etc. You now need to get in touch with this doctor and discuss your plans for pregnancy. If you haven't been seeing a medical professional about your diabetes, then this is a great opportunity to get back in contact.
Additional Medical Advice
Your diabetes specialist will be able to give you the advice you need about controlling your diabetes through medication, diet and exercise, but he will also refer you to a high risk obstetrician, who is experienced in monitoring diabetic pregnancies. You may also be told to see a dietician, especially if you are overweight.
You'll be told to eat healthily, if you aren't already (lots of fruit and vegetables) and do aerobic exercise for around 30 minutes a day (if it's safe for you to do so). If you need to lose weight before getting pregnant or if you haven't exercised in a while, you'll probably be told to build up your exercise routine slowly.
Even before you and your doctors think you're ready to conceive, you can begin tracking your menstrual cycle to determine at which stage of the month you are ovulating and most likely to get pregnant. Then, when the time comes, you can begin having unprotected sex. Doctors say that having sex three times a week makes it most likely that your partner's sperm will fertilize an egg during ovulation.