Diabetics need to control their blood sugar levels carefully during pregnancy to prevent certain birth defects and miscarriages, as well as complications for the mother. Fortunately, diabetics who work with their doctors to control blood sugar levels can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Types 1 or 2 Diabetes
Women who have types 1 or 2 diabetes should begin to prepare for pregnancy in advance by seeing a doctor and a dietitian. During pregnancy, a diabetic's blood sugar should be more carefully monitored. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that women check their blood sugar six to eight times a day.
About 4 percent of pregnant women will have gestational diabetes. At 28 weeks of pregnancy, all women receive a glucose screening. Your doctor will decide whether your blood sugar level is healthy, but many doctors feel a good level is under 140 mg of glucose per deciliter of blood plasma (mg/dL). If it is higher, you will do more testing to determine if you have gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes as a Warning Sign
Gestational diabetes should go away after a woman gives birth, but women who develop it are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. You can work with your doctor to continue a healthy lifestyle that may decrease your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Blood sugar levels need to be carefully controlled for pregnant women with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, a healthy blood sugar level is between 70 and 130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 two hours after starting a meal. It is important to discuss healthy blood sugar levels with your doctor, who will decide where your blood sugar levels should be and how you should control them.
Diabetes Control Methods
A combination of diet, exercise and medicine can go a long way toward control. You can visit the American Diabetes Association website to find out how diabetics are controlling their blood sugar (see Resources).