Pregnancy is a challenging time for any woman. Between the hormone fluctuations, swollen feet, and sore back, just making it through your daily routine can be rough. If you are pregnant and have diabetes, however, things can get even more complicated.
It is entirely possible to manage your diabetes while pregnant, but there are a few special precautions you should take for your own safety and for your baby’s wellbeing. Keep reading to learn about six simple tips for a healthy pregnancy with diabetes.
The Top 6 Tips for Managing Diabetes While Pregnant
If you have diabetes, keeping your blood sugar levels stable is of the utmost importance. Your diet and lifestyle play an important role in diabetes management and, if possible, you should get things under control before you even think about getting pregnant. Whether you planned to get pregnant or not, however, there are some simple tips you should follow to ensure a healthy pregnancy if you are diabetic – here are the top six:
- Understand the risks. During the first 8 weeks of pregnancy is when your baby’s heart, brain, kidneys, and lungs start to form and high blood sugar during this period can affect your baby’s development and increase the risk for birth defects. High blood sugar may also increase your risk of miscarriage and the risk that your baby might be born too early.
- Get your bad habits under control. If you are a smoker, you should quit. If you are obese, lose some weight. If your diet is unhealthy, fix it. Making improvements to your diet and lifestyle will not only benefit your health but the health of your baby as well. The sooner you get your health under control, the better it will be for you and your baby.
- Control your blood sugar. As a diabetic, you should already be taking steps to keep your blood glucose levels stable, but this becomes increasingly more important if you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about the best method for managing your blood sugar and then stick to his advice. You’ll also need to test your blood sugar regularly, so you will know when it is getting too low or too high. While pregnant, you should be testing your blood sugar at least once an hour.
- Pay attention to your diet. The food you eat is the biggest factor that affects your blood sugar levels, so be very mindful of your diet. Focus your meals on low-glycemic foods like lean proteins, whole grains, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats. Try to limit your intake of refined sugars and processed carbs because these foods are the most likely to cause a spike in blood sugar. If you have trouble keeping food down during pregnancy, keep some whole-grain crackers handy to settle your stomach when you have morning sickness.
- Develop a support network. Being pregnant is difficult enough, but the added challenge of diabetes on top of it can be overwhelming at times. Talk to your partner about what they can do to help you manage your diabetes while you are pregnant and don’t be afraid to rely on them when you need help. You may also find it beneficial to join an online support group or find one in your community. Not only is it helpful to have this kind of support, but it will benefit you to connect with people who are in the same situation as you.
- Consider going off your oral diabetes medications. For many diabetics, oral medications are essential for managing blood sugar. Unfortunately, diabetes medications like metformin have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that they are dangerous, but neither is there enough evidence to show that they are safe – it is better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your doctor about going off your diabetes drugs and what you’ll need to do to manage your diabetes in another way.
As a diabetic, getting pregnant comes with certain risks, but diabetes is by no means impossible to manage while you are pregnant. If you are not currently diabetic, don’t assume that you are out of the woods – gestational diabetes is a condition that affects about 4% of pregnant women. For your own safety and for the health of your baby, talk to your doctor about diabetes if you are pregnant so, if you have it, you can get it under control.