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Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes and Pregnancy

Pregnancy and Diabetes

A woman pregnant with Type 1 or Type II diabetes may have problems controlling her blood sugar.

Birth Defects

The baby’s organs develop during the first two weeks of pregnancy. This is often before the mother even knows she is pregnant. Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause severe congenital disabilities in the baby’s development, including the spine, brain, and heart.

Find out how pre-existing diabetic conditions can increase your risk of congenital disabilities.

An Extra Large Baby

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels in babies. The baby becomes “overfed” and gets larger. An extra-large baby can cause discomfort for the mother during pregnancy and may also lead to complications during birth. To deliver the baby, the mother may need to have a C-Section. Nerve damage can occur in the baby’s birth due to pressure placed on the shoulder during delivery.

C- Section (Cesarean Section)

A C-section allows the mother to deliver the baby by operating through her stomach. If a woman has diabetes, she is more likely to need a C-section. The recovery time for a C-section mother is longer than for a normal birth.

Preeclampsia (High Blood Pressure)

Preeclampsia is a condition in which a pregnant woman experiences high blood pressure, high protein levels in her urine, swelling in the fingers and toes, and sometimes doesn’t seem to go away. This is a serious condition that should be monitored closely by the doctor. Both the mother and unborn baby can be affected by high blood pressure. This could lead to premature birth, strokes or seizures in the baby. High blood pressure is more common in women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes than for those without it.

Preterm (Early) Birth

Too early birth can cause problems for the baby such as vision problems, breathing problems, bleeding into the brain and heart problems. Type 1 and type 2 diabetic women are more likely than those without diabetes to give birth early.

A Personal Story

Learn about the experiences of a woman who is pregnant and has diabetes.>

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

Diabetes patients who are on insulin or take other diabetes medication can have blood sugar levels that are too low. If not treated promptly, low blood sugar can lead to serious complications and even death. Women who monitor their blood sugar levels and seek treatment promptly for low blood sugar are able to avoid serious complications.

A woman who does not manage her diabetes well during pregnancy can have her baby develop low blood sugar very quickly after she gives birth. After delivery, the baby’s blood sugar needs to be closely monitored.


A miscarriage refers to a pregnancy ending before 20 weeks. Stillbirth is when the baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks. There are many reasons why miscarriages or stillbirths may occur. If diabetes is not controlled well, a woman who has had multiple miscarriages or stillbirths may be at greater risk.

7 Tips For Women With Diabetes

A woman suffering from diabetes can improve her chances of having healthy babies by controlling her blood sugar before and during pregnancy. The chances of a woman developing diabetes common issues or worsening during pregnancy are reduced if she controls her blood sugar.

Pregnancy steps women can take to prevent problems during and after pregnancy:

  1. Plan for Pregnancy
  2. Before getting pregnant, see your doctor. Your doctor will need to examine your current diabetes, discuss with you how you can control it, modify your medications, and plan for regular follow-up. As part of a plan to control your blood sugar, if you are overweight, your doctor may recommend that you lose weight.
  3. Get to See Your Doctor Early and Often
  4. A woman with diabetes should see her doctor more frequently during pregnancy than a woman without it. You and your doctor can collaborate to identify early problems or prevent them.
  5. Eat Healthy Foods
  6. A meal plan designed for someone with diabetes will help you eat healthy food. A dietitian can help create a healthy meal program. A dietitian can help you control your blood sugar during pregnancy.
  7. Delicious Recipes for Diabetic People and their Families >>external Icon
  8. Find a Dietitian.
  9. American Dietetic Association
  10. 1-800-877-1600
  11. www. www.eat right. Or click on an external icon (click “Find an Expert span>
  12. Exercise Regularly
  13. Another way to control blood sugar is to exercise. It balances your food intake. You can exercise before, during, or after pregnancy if you consult your doctor. At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity should be done five days per week. You could do this by walking fast, swimming or playing with your children.
  14. Get more information about pregnancy and physical activity.>
  15. Use Insulin and Pills as directed
  16. Take insulin or diabetes pills as prescribed by your doctor to maintain your blood sugar in check.
  17. Quickly Control Low Blood Sugar and Treat It
  18. Low blood sugar can sometimes be caused by poor blood sugar control. It is important to always have an easy source of sugar such as glucose tablets, hard candy, or gel if you take insulin or diabetes pills. It is also a good idea to share with family, friends and coworkers how to respond to severe low blood sugar reactions.
  19. Monitor Blood Sugar Often
  20. Blood sugar levels can fluctuate quickly during pregnancy because of the changes in energy requirements. Your doctor will direct you to test your blood sugar regularly. You need to know how to adjust your food intake, exercise, insulin and other factors, depending on the results of your blood sugar tests.
  21. How to manage diabetes.

More Information

Got diabetes? Are you thinking about having a baby. pdf icon[PDF- 1 MB]

Download, view, and print this brochure on diabetes and pregnancy.

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