Ready to welcome a new baby? A visit with your doctor should be one of the first tasks on your to-do list. But for women with diabetes, a pre-conception visit is especially important.
"Diabetes can affect a pregnant woman and growing baby if it is not well controlled. We sometimes see complications in pregnancies like these, including miscarriage, preterm delivery, birth defects, and high birth weight," explains Peter Dahl, MD, endocrinologist with Main Line HealthCare Endocrinology at Riddle Hospital. "However, these complications can be dramatically reduced when diabetes is well-controlled in anticipation of conception as well as throughout pregnancy," says Dr. Dahl.
When you and your partner decide it’s time to welcome a new addition, schedule a pre-conception appointment with your OB/GYN, and an appointment with your endocrinologist or a diabetes management specialist. You’ll want to make sure that your blood pressure and blood glucose levels are at a normal level.
"Controlling your blood glucose levels is very important in the weeks and months before pregnancy and throughout pregnancy, so working with a diabetes specialist starting prior to conception is essential," says Dr. Dahl.
During your appointment, it's important to talk to your endocrinologist about whether or not your medication is safe to continue taking during pregnancy. Some diabetes medications are not recommended for pregnant women.
Throughout your pregnancy, controlling blood sugar levels continues to be an important factor. But it’s also important to pay attention to other lifestyle factors, like diet and exercise. While diet is important for every pregnant woman, it’s especially important for women with diabetes. Aim to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week can help keep blood sugar under control, prevent high blood pressure, and ease uncomfortable symptoms like back pain, trouble sleeping, decreased energy, and mood swings. Because exercise affects blood sugar, be sure to check your levels before and after.
Once you’ve welcomed your new baby, it’s still important to be diligent about managing your diabetes. Continue the healthy lifestyle habits you practiced during pregnancy, and work with your OB/GYN and endocrinologist to address any concerns you may have about your health or elevated blood glucose levels.
Although planning a pregnancy when you have diabetes can seem daunting, a few precautionary steps can help make your pregnancy a healthier and more comfortable one.
Main Line Health's team of obstetricians offer complete, family-centered care for women with normal and high-risk pregnancies, which includes monitoring and testing during pregnancy. Visit our website to learn more about our OB/GYN services and find a physician in your area to help you navigate your pregnancy and diabetes safely.