8 Tips To Prepare For Pregnancy If You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes, keeping your blood glucose as close to normal as possible before and during your pregnancy is important to stay healthy and have a healthy baby.

Getting check-ups before and during pregnancy, following your diabetes meal plan, being physically active as your health care team advises, and taking diabetes medicines if you need to will help you manage your diabetes.

Stopping smoking and taking vitamins as your doctor advises also can help you and your baby stay healthy.

 

1. Work With Your Health Care Team

Prepare For Pregnancy If You Have Diabetes

Regular visits with members of a health care team who are experts in diabetes and pregnancy will ensure that you and your baby get the best care. Your health care team may include:

  • A medical doctor who specializes in diabetes care, such as an endocrinologist or a diabetologist.
  • An obstetrician with experience treating women with diabetes.
  • A diabetes educator who can help you manage your diabetes.
  • A nurse practitioner who provides prenatal care during your pregnancy.
  • A registered dietitian to help with meal planning.
  • Specialists who diagnose and treat diabetes-related problems, such as vision problems, kidney disease, and heart disease.
  • A social worker or psychologist to help you cope with stress, worry, and the extra demands of pregnancy.

You are the most important member of the team. Your health care team can give you expert advice, but you are the one who must manage your diabetes every day.

 

2. Get A Checkup

Get A Checkup

Have a complete checkup before you get pregnant or as soon as you know you are pregnant. Your doctor should check for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Eye disease
  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease

Pregnancy can make some diabetes health problems worse. To help prevent this, your health care team may recommend adjusting your treatment before you get pregnant.

 

3. Don’t Smoke

Don’t Smoke

Smoking can increase your chance of having a stillborn baby or a baby born too early. Smoking is especially harmful for people with diabetes. Smoking can increase diabetes-related health problems such as eye disease, heart disease, and kidney disease.

If you smoke or use other tobacco products, stop. Ask for help so you don’t have to do it alone.

 

4. Consult A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Consult A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

If you don’t already see a dietitian, you should start seeing one before you get pregnant. Your dietitian can help you learn what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat to reach or stay at a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

Together, you and your dietitian will create a meal plan to fit your needs, schedule, food preferences, medical conditions, medicines, and physical activity routine.

During pregnancy, some women need to make changes in their meal plans, such as adding extra calories, protein, and other nutrients. You will need to see your dietitian every few months during pregnancy as your dietary needs change.

 

5. Be Physically Active

Be Physically Active

Physical activity can help you reach your target blood glucose numbers. Being physically active can also help keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range, relieve stress, strengthen your heart and bones, improve muscle strength, and keep your joints flexible.

Before getting pregnant, make physical activity a regular part of your life. Aim for 30 minutes of activity 5 days of the week.

Talk with your health care team about what activities are best for you during your pregnancy. Read tips on how to eat better and be more active while you are pregnant and after your baby is born.

 

6. Avoid Alcohol

Avoid Alcohol

You should avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while you’re trying to get pregnant and throughout pregnancy. When you drink, the alcohol also affects your baby. Alcohol can lead to serious, lifelong health problems for your baby.

 

7. Adjust Your Medicines

Adjust Your Medicines

Some medicines are not safe during pregnancy and you should stop taking them before you get pregnant. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, such as those for high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Your doctor can tell you which medicines to stop taking and may prescribe a different medicine that is safe to use during pregnancy.

Doctors most often prescribe insulin for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes during pregnancy. If you’re already taking insulin, you might need to change the kind, the amount, or how and when you take it.

You may need less insulin during your first trimester but probably will need more as you go through pregnancy.

Your insulin needs may double or even triple as you get closer to your due date. Your health care team will work with you to create an insulin routine to meet your changing needs.

 

8. Take Vitamin And Mineral Supplements

Take Vitamin And Mineral Supplements

Folic acid is an important vitamin for you to take before and during pregnancy to protect your baby’s health. You’ll need to start taking folic acid at least 1 month before you get pregnant.

You should take a multivitamin or supplement that contains at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. Once you become pregnant, you should take 600 mcg daily.

Ask your doctor if you should take other vitamins or minerals, such as iron or calcium supplements, or a multivitamin.

 

References:

[1] ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins. ACOG Practice Bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 60, March 2005. Pregestational diabetes mellitus. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2005;105(3):675–685. Reaffirmed 2014: www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Practice-Bulletins-List.

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress. A report of the Surgeon General. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/. Published 2014. Accessed July 7, 2016.

[3] Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2016. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(1)(suppl):S94–S98.

[4] Correa A, Gilboa SM, Botto LD, et al. Lack of periconceptional vitamins or supplements that contain folic acid and diabetes mellitus-associated birth defects. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2012;206(3):218.e1–e13.

NOTE:
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

We would also like to thank:
Boyd E. Metzger, MD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

 

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