A woman with diabetes can certainly have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. However, pregnant women need specialized care before and during the pregnancy in order to minimize potential risks to the mother and the baby.

Before becoming pregnant

Family planning for a woman with diabetes starts well before she tries to become pregnant. Preparation and expert help is important because uncontrolled diabetes is linked to a higher risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. Women with diabetes who are pregnant should be cared for in a specialized clinic.

Canadian diabetes experts have put together the following list of recommendations for all women with diabetes wanting to become pregnant:

  • blood sugar control: Poor blood sugar control has been linked to poorer health for the mother and child. Before becoming pregnant, experts recommend that a woman achieve blood sugar levels that are as close to normal as possible.
  • check the eyes: Diabetes is linked to certain eye complications, and pregnancy can increase the chance of this getting worse. Diabetes experts recommend all women to have proper eye examinations before, during, and after pregnancy.
  • check the kidneys: Having chronic kidney disease increases the risk of complications for the mother and child. Experts recommend checking the kidneys before and throughout the pregnancy.
  • changing medications: There are many medications used in people with diabetes that can cause potential harm to a child. These medications are normally changed to safer alternatives. Experts also recommend that women with type 2 diabetes switch from oral medication to insulin before or as soon as they become pregnant.
  • folic acid: Folic acid before pregnancy is recommended for all women. Canadian diabetes experts recommend that all women with diabetes take a multivitamin with 5 mg of folic acid for at least 3 months before trying to become pregnant and continuing for at least 3 months after becoming pregnant. After this, they should take a multivitamin with at least 0.4 mg to 1.0 mg of folic acid throughout the pregnancy until at least 6 weeks after the birth or as long as breast-feeding continues.

Keeping healthy during your pregnancy

Staying healthy during your pregnancy will take a bit of work. Here are some tips to having a great pregnancy:

  • control your blood sugar: A healthy pregnancy means very tight blood sugar control. Experts recommend the following blood sugar targets:
    • fasting blood sugar: less than 5.3 mmol/L
    • blood sugar 1 hour after you eat: less than 7.8 mmol/L
    • blood sugar 2 hours after you eat: less than 6.7 mmol/L
  • test often: The only way you will know if you blood sugar is under control is by testing your blood sugar many times throughout the day.
  • stick to the plan: You will work with your diabetes team and come up with a diet and insulin plan for ideal control.