One in three Americans with type 2 diabetes doesn't even know it -- symptoms can develop so gradually that they go unrecognized. Any woman planning to get pregnant should talk to her primary care physician about being tested.
Good prenatal care is important for all pregnant women, but for women with diabetes, preconception care is also crucial. Excellent blood sugar control, before and during pregnancy, is the key to a healthy pregnancy, says Dr. Bernasko. Because the greatest risk to the baby can occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant, women should have their diabetes in control at least three months before they conceive.
When you're a type 1 diabetic, a healthy pregnancy requires a team approach. According to the American Diabetes Association, it's a good idea to go to a high-risk obstetrician who has handled pregnant diabetics, a registered dietician, and a diabetes educator, who will work with you to create a life plan to help you manage your disease.
Because a diabetic's blood sugar issues change as the pregnancy evolves, she must keep records of her diet, exercise, and insulin regimen, as well as maintain a schedule of medical appointments. Blood sugar must also be monitored.
Women with type 2 diabetes will also need extra care, particularly if they're controlling their blood sugar with medication. The safety of such medicines during pregnancy has not been established, so insulin injections are sometimes a must. Needless to say, going from taking a pill to giving yourself injections is an adjustment that requires a doctor's supervision.
Most women with gestational diabetes, and some with type 2, can keep their blood sugar levels in check through diet and exercise alone. For many, the diet is the toughest part. It can be very challenging for someone to stay on a low-carb diet. But it's critical to do so when another life is at stake. The beautiful, healthy baby that you will have is totally worth it.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.