Diabetes And Pregnancy

What do I need to know about diabetes and pregnancy?

Plan your pregnancy so healthcare providers can help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Decrease your risk of health problems by controlling your blood sugar levels before and during pregnancy.

How can I manage my diabetes during pregnancy?

  • Check your blood sugar level: You may need to test your blood sugar level at least 3 times each day. Ask your healthcare providers when and how often you should check during the day. He will tell you what your blood sugar levels should be at different times throughout the day. He may want your blood sugar levels to be 60 mg/dL to 99 mg/dL before meals, at bedtime, and during the night. He may want them to be 100 mg/dL to 129 mg/dL after meals. Your healthcare provider can show you how to use a blood glucose meter to check your levels.



  • Take your medicine: Take your diabetes medicine or insulin as directed by your healthcare provider. If you have type 2 diabetes and you take diabetes pills, you may need to stop taking them and start using insulin. Insulin is safe to use during pregnancy. Certain medicines are not safe to use during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you are currently taking.

  • Prevent hypoglycemia: Your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is higher during pregnancy because you may not feel the symptoms. This risk is highest during the first trimester. Eat regular meals and snacks to avoid hypoglycemia. Always keep glucose tablets with you in case your blood sugar level gets low. If you do not have glucose tablets, drink milk, juice, or regular soda. Tell your family about the symptoms of hypoglycemia so they can help you if you cannot help yourself. Ask your healthcare provider how to manage hypoglycemia.

  • Prevent diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): This is a serious condition that can happen when your blood sugar level gets too high. Pregnancy increases your risk of DKA. The symptoms of DKA include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you test the levels of ketones in your urine when your blood sugar level is high. He may also ask you to check your ketones regularly if you are sick.

  • Do not drink alcohol: Alcohol is dangerous for your unborn baby. Alcohol can also increase your blood sugar levels and make your diabetes more difficult to manage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help to quit drinking alcohol.

What should I know about nutrition and pregnancy?

The amount of calories you need depends on your weight before you got pregnant. Your healthcare provider or dietitian will tell you how many calories you need each day. You may need more calories while you are pregnant. You may need fewer calories if you are overweight. Your risk of problems such as high blood pressure and premature labor are higher if you are overweight.

How much exercise should I get?

Exercise can help you keep your blood sugar level steady. Exercise can also help you lose weight if you are overweight. Ask your healthcare provider how much exercise you should get each day. Ask what types of physical activity you can do safely while you are pregnant.

How will healthcare providers manage my diabetes during labor and delivery?

Healthcare providers will check your blood sugar levels while you are in labor. They will give you insulin or glucose throughout your labor to keep your blood sugar at the right level.

What do I need to do after delivery?

  • Go to follow-up appointments: Healthcare providers will continue to help you manage your diabetes. Talk with your healthcare provider about birth control. It is important to prepare for the next pregnancy if you plan to have another child.

  • Take your medicine as directed: If you have type 2 diabetes, you may be able to take your diabetes medicine again. There are certain diabetes medicines that you may not be able to take if you breastfeed. If you have type 1 diabetes, the amount of insulin you need will decrease after you have your baby. Ask your healthcare provider when and how often to test your blood sugar level. You may need to check at least 3 times each day.

  • Ask about other medicines: Some medicines are not safe to take while you are breastfeeding. Tell your healthcare provider if you plan to breastfeed. Ask him if you can take medicines you were taking for other medical conditions before pregnancy.

  • Prevent hypoglycemia: Your risk of hypoglycemia is higher if you breastfeed. Your dietitian will help you create a meal plan that works for you. Eat a snack before you breastfeed. Eat regular meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar level steady.

What can I do to have a healthy baby?

  • Get prenatal care: Keep all appointments with your healthcare providers. They will help you manage your diabetes during pregnancy. You may need to see your healthcare provider every 1 to 2 weeks during the first and second trimesters of your pregnancy. As the end of your pregnancy gets closer, you may need to see your healthcare provider each week. Your healthcare provider may do a test called A1c at least every 3 months while you are pregnant. This blood test shows the average amount of sugar in your blood over the past 2 to 3 months.

  • Stop smoking: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking is harmful to your baby. Do not smoke around your baby, and do not let others smoke around him. Smoking can also worsen the problems that happen with diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider for information about quitting if you need help to stop smoking.

  • Take folic acid supplements: Start taking folic acid before you get pregnant and continue until you are at least 12 weeks pregnant. Folic acid decreases the risk that your baby will have birth defects. Ask your healthcare provider how much folic acid you should take.

What are the risks of diabetes and pregnancy?

You have an increased risk of high blood pressure, premature (early) labor, and miscarriage. A miscarriage is the loss of a fetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy. High blood sugar levels can increase your risk of having a large baby, a baby with birth defects, and stillbirth. Stillbirth is the loss of a fetus (unborn baby) after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have symptoms of hypoglycemia. You may be shaky or dizzy. You may sweat or have a headache.

  • Your blood sugar level is over 200 mg/dL and you have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and confusion.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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