Diabetes is a condition in which the natural ability of the body to convert glucose into energy is disrupted, leading to increased sugar levels in the blood. However, this ailment can be managed and kept within limits through proper medication, and by following certain health tips and diet plans.
Women who have diabetes and are planning to become pregnant have special health worries. Pregnancy puts great demands on the body, and having diabetes certainly makes things complicated. Diabetes in pregnant women should be closely monitored and kept under check through medications.
Gestational Diabetes Calculator - Are you likely to develop gestational diabetes? Find Out
Diabetic women should consult doctors before getting pregnant
Women who are diabetic should check with their doctors before planning the pregnancy. Some medical tests are needed to be done to determine how well diabetes is controlled in the patient. These tests if done before pregnancy, helps in monitoring health issues and also prevents complications during pregnancy due to diabetes.
Also one does not realise if she is pregnant until four weeks. Presence of high glucose levels in the blood during this early stage of pregnancy may cause birth defects in the baby. Also chances of miscarriage highly increase in diabetic women. Therefore, consulting the doctor before planning pregnancy is a must.
Does diabetes affect the baby?
Higher blood sugar levels have an impact on babies. The most common problem among babies of diabetic mothers is 'macrosomia', or in other words, 'large body'.
This condition occurs as the babies while in the womb of their diabetic mothers receive large amounts of sugar through the placenta. The pancreas of the babies senses it and thus produces higher levels of insulin to use up the excess of sugar. This extra sugar is converted into fat making the baby large. This also results in a caesarean delivery instead of a normal one.
Also if one's sugar levels are consistently high, the baby may develop severely low levels of sugar in the blood right after delivery. This happens because the baby is used to producing higher levels of insulin throughout to combat the excess of sugar received from the mother. When delivered the baby gets cut off from the source of excess sugar while the insulin levels are high and thus the sugar levels drop drastically. This may lead to fatal consequences for the baby if not checked immediately.
Health tips for pregnant women with diabetes
Pregnant diabetic women should be extra cautious about their health to ensure the safety of herself and the baby. Below are enlisted some of the health tips that any diabetic woman during pregnancy should be aware of.
- Blood glucose levels : Sugar levels in the blood should be checked regularly and many times on a single day. A record should be maintained of all the readings and shown to the doctor for further modification in the treatment. One should also know everything from the doctor as to how to deal with Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia. The former is a condition when blood sugar levels increase and the latter means the blood sugar levels are low. None of the situations should be left untreated by pregnant women.
- Ketone levels: Urine or blood should be checked for ketones, presence of which signals at poorly managed diabetes.
- Smoking: Smoking not only results in birth defect or stillborn babies but it also aggravates diabetic condition in pregnant women. Thus learning from the doctor at length on how to quit smoking is absolutely necessary for diabetic pregnant women.
- Insulin: A diabetic mother-to-be may be in need of extra insulin to combat excess of sugar in the blood. Insulin is not harmful for the baby.
Lifestyle recommendation during pregnancy
A woman's body undergoes certain drastic changes during pregnancy. Hormonal imbalance and weight gain are some of the common and known changes. Diabetes only adds to the complications and thus a healthy lifestyle and some health tips need to be closely followed by all diabetic pregnant women.
- Diet plans: Check with a certified dietician to plan how much to eat and what to eat, and follow as directed.
- Physical exercise: During pregnancy not all exercises are safe and therefore check with the doctor and the trainer as to which ones are targeted at pregnant women only. Regular physical exercises also help in managing diabetes.
- Medications: A pregnant diabetic woman should be thorough with her medications - its types, how much to take, how to take and when to take them.
Diet plans for diabetic women during pregnancy
There are many changes that are required in the diet of diabetic pregnant women.
Meal size : The portion sizes and frequency of intake for each meal and snack should be discussed at length. Fibre intake is must, which should include fruits, whole grains and vegetables. One should definitely cut down on sweets.
Calories : A goal for weight gain needs to be set and thus accordingly the diet plan will accommodate the extra calories.