I fielded a question on my Facebook page the other day in regards to pregnancy and type 1 diabetes. First off, If you are reading this article, I want to personally congratulate you as well as your significant other! As a stay at home dad of 4, being a parent is an amazing experience, something I wouldn’t trade for the world! Its a exceptional time, even if you are up several times a night, listening to priceless cries, changing a dirty diaper or just watching your little one sleep peacefully out of pure enjoyment.
With all the medical advancements today, being a parent should be something that everyone gets to experience and just because your diabetic, that shouldn’t deter you from starting your own family. I’m sure you have plenty of pregnancy questions, so lets take a closer look at what you might experience as a type 1 and becoming pregnant!
Blood Sugar Levels:
We all know that having tight control of our blood sugars is vital in order to reduce risks of complications, but this is even more essential during the second and third trimesters to prevent fetal macrosomia (excessive growth of the baby) as well as a premature or complicated delivery. Throughout pregnancy, expectant moms with type 1 can see major changes in their insulin requirements, typically decreased needs in the first trimester followed by steadily increasing needs in the second and third trimesters. Through frequent reviews of self-monitoring data, our team will work with you to make the necessary adjustments and keep you on track. Our lifestyle specialists will also coach you on nutrition, physical activity and weight issues, and prepare you for “the big day
Pregnancy And Exercise:
Exercise is important to your overall health and that doesn’t change once you are pregnant. Include physical activity in your daily routine, but before you do, get your doctor or health care provider’s OK to exercise, then choose activities you enjoy. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly. Check your blood sugar level before and after any activity, especially if you take insulin. You might need to eat a snack or adjust your insulin pump’s basal rate before exercising to help prevent low blood sugar.
Type 1, Pregnancy And Food Choices:
Good food choices is vital for women who are pregnant with diabetes include those with fiber and whole grains, which not only pack more nutrients but may help control blood sugar levels and cravings for longer.
Some quality foods include leafy greens, low-fat fortified breads like ezekiel, beans, and fresh fruits like citrus (be careful here though). Even when carb choices are healthy, carb binging can cause rapid rises and falls in blood sugar levels, which can spell trouble for a developing baby. Medline Plus suggests pregnant women with diabetes eat a steady level of carbohydrates throughout the day rather than eating a large amount of carbs at one sitting and few at the next. In addition, they recommend limiting concentrated sweets, such as pastries and sugary drinks (a good idea anyway, even if your not pregnant).
Type 1 Challenges & Pregnancy:
A study done in Australia confirmed that women with type 1 diabetes who work with a diabetes specialist before conceiving have much more successful pregnancies.
“The most important thing for type 1 diabetics is that if they consider pregnancy, they should make sure blood glucose control is under optimal conditions,” advised obstetrician and gynecologist Raul Artal, MD, a professor and chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at St. Louis University in Missouri.
It is important to work with both an ob/gyn, one who is experienced in caring for women with type 1 diabetes, and an endocrinologist to make sure that you’re achieving your blood sugar goals.
Insulin generally doesn’t pose a risk to your baby, but high blood sugar does. “The number one concern is congenital malformations,” Artal explained. Neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) and congenital malformations of the heart are both possible when blood sugar is high. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) poses a different kind of threat by limiting the mother’s amount of glucose stores, which transfers to the developing infant and puts the child at risk for various long-term conditions, such as cognitive deficits, developmental abnormalities, and hypertension.
Your health care team will help you determine the best time and safest way to deliver your baby. Sometimes labor is allowed to begin naturally. In other cases, labor may need to be induced early to reduce the risk of complications.
During labor, your health care team will closely monitor your blood sugar level and adjust your insulin dosage accordingly. If your baby is too large, an induction isn’t successful or you develop complications, you might need a C-section.
After delivery, your attention will turn to your baby — but it’s still important to take care of yourself and continue with your diabetes action plan. Continue to check your blood sugar levels often, especially if you’re breast-feeding. Keeping yourself healthy is the best thing you can do for your baby.
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